Bp. Zurek Extends Invitation to Meet…

Fr. Pavone doesn’t bother to show.

This kind of petulance makes the bishop look smarter every day. This is your bishop we are talking about, Fr. Pavone. Show some respect.

Ed Peters remarks on this latest show of hostility to the bishop from Fr. Pavone.

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  • Andy

    Another sheepdog to enter the world? I pray not, but obedience is one of the vows taken – so I think now what we see is distemper on the part of Father Pavone. When and how will this end – not well I suspect.

    • drogah

      Nitpicky about this sort of thing, since it’s a bugaboo: promises, not vows. One’s for the salvation of the individual directly to God (vow) and one’s for the good of others in relationship to the bishop’s apostolic ministry (promise).

      Sorry: a bugaboo of mine 😉

      • Andy

        Thank you for the correction I have read that priests make vows of obedience, chastity… This is the first I have heard it is a promise. However, promise or vow I fear for the ending of this “confrontation”.

        • A Random Friar

          Not just that! From the Rite of Ordination:

          “Do you promise filial respect and obedience to me and my successors?”

          IOW, a priest is to honor and obey his bishop as a son would his own father.

  • Julia

    If it was indeed so it makes it seem that Fr. Pavone was defiant which doesn’t seem to be characteristic of him. I have given John Corapi and Fr. Tom Euteneur the benefit of the doubt but ended up being wrong on both accounts, I beg Heavens to be right at leadt this time…

    • william harcourt

      Well, I don’t know what you are talking about. Fr. Euteneur tried to settle his situation in private and manifested immediate and total obedience to his bishop. He was treated to a vicious lashing by the so-called Catholic blogosphere–to which he could never give an adequate response–and you say that he is equivalent to Pavone or Corapi? He did wrong but his response was to take responsibility for his failings, to remain faithful to his vows and to put his priesthood before his personal passion. Where, really, is the comparison?

      • Mike

        Wrong. wrong, wrong! In his public statement, Euteneuer minimized and decieved about what happened with the woman, with his finances, and circumstances surrounding the scandal. He was NOT forthcoming or humble about his abuse of the woman.

        • Phil Steinacker

          I’ve seen other accusations similar to yours, Mike, but they have so far always been without supporting evidence because their sources – and often those posting them like yourself – remain anonymous.

          Sorry. I won’t defend Eutenauer or any priest where the facts solidly establish guilt, but those pusing your particular slander need to man up with names and documentable facts or sit down and be quiet until such time as the powers that be settle the charges for us.

  • Peggy R

    Very disappointing. Things getting worse by the day, it seems.

    By the way, Mark, you’re sure getting an early start these days for a west coaster. Hope you’re getting some sleep. Cheers!

  • Chris

    A favorite priest once gave a sermon that has served me well over the years. He shared the acronym for EGO…Edging God Out. While a healthy ego is certainly necessary to keep us alive and moving forward, it so easily becomes something else! In times of conflict or dis-ease, I have learned to check myself and my ego. I think many of these priests in conflict with their bishops could benefit from doing the same!

    • irishsmile

      I would assume that you would characterize bishops in conflict or disobedience with Rome the same way. In spite of JPII & Bendict XVI’s motu proprios many dioceses still do not make the TLM “generously available”.

  • Lili

    Mark, I fear that perhaps Fr Pavone has started to believe his own press. He appears to believe he is above the counsel or correction of his Bishop. Too sad!
    At least in good faith, in manly fashion, he should have attended a meeting. He hasn’t moved out of the Amarillo diocese yet!

    In the meantime, the pro-life movement continues the hard work of protecting Life. An important vote took place this week in DC, the ” Protect Life Act” pass in Congress. Now Mr Obama threatens to veto it. We need to be writing Washington right now, not Amarillo. More info can be found here: http://www.nrlc.org

    Sadly, Fr Frank should be telling folks to get back to work and to stop badgering his Bishop, but he hasn’t. It seems that he is happy with the outcry. It’s also sad that he has not had a kind word to say for his hostesses out at the convent. I doubt the good sisters are pleased with the negative comments on there life of sacrifice.

    I am not looking to see this end well.

  • Joel

    To simply meet with Bishop Zurek will not resolve this situation. Priests for Life Chief Canonist, Rev. David Deibel, has advised Fr. Pavone not to meet with Bishop Zurek without a mediator present.

    • Joel, do have a publicly verifiable source for that assertion? If so, could you point us to it? Thanks, edp.

      • Tim
      • dcs

        Dr. Peters et. al.,

        Fr. Deibel’s statement can be found here:

        • Thanks, I’ll read this carefully. edp.

        • Mark Shea

          How thoughtful to deign to explain this the day after he blows off his bishop. Sorry, but he’s being childish. It’s like watching a divorcing prima donna spouse only talking to her husband through a lawyer. How about a little humility?

          • DB

            Does the canonist or Fr. Pavone owe anyone an earlier statement, if any at all?

            I’m thankful for the information and clarification concerning Fr. Pavone’s rationale for requesting a mediator, so I won’t deign to call him childish.

            In fact, since Bishop Zurek and Fr. Pavone continue to go public with various statements, it is quite prudent for Fr. Pavone and Bishop Zurek to have a mediator present. This won’t undermine the Bishop’s authority, and it should protect all, including the interested public (it is what is now) from either side making further unwarranted statements. Since both sides have made such statements, it doesn’t matter who recommends a mediator; it’s quite wise under the circumstances.

            By the bye, Mr. Shea, you set forth a most interesting analogy, no doubt based upon expertise in the area and witnessing such a thing quite often,…or are you simply assuming things once again in order to “pontificate” your one-sided disgust?

            “How about a little humility?”

            • drogah

              The fact of the matter is that Fr. Pavone does not owe an explanation to us; he owes it instead to his diocesan bishop. This would never had made the mainstream Catholic press if Fr. Pavone had called his bishop and told him his canonist couldn’t be there, and that they needed to reschedule.

              But he didn’t tell his bishop that. He just plain didn’t show up.

              So Mark is correct in his comments, and in his suspicions. This is looking like it will not end well for Fr. Pavone.

              Please pray for me and my brother priests.

              • Apparently there was a formal letter to the Bishop asking for mediation, WHICH HAS NOT BEEN RESPONDED TO. Also, the Bishop resquested everything be private. Then unilaterally he breaks his own request and announces his request to meet with Fr.P. NOT HAVING FIRST RESPONDED TO REQUEST FOR MEDIATION. Sure looks like an authoritarian prelate trying to have it both ways.

  • Peggy R

    So, who is Fr. Deibel’s superior/bishop?

    This is pretty sad when two men of God cannot meet each other privately and discuss their differences. Fr. Pavone just keeps going further and further from obedience and respect in my mind. Talk about the attitude of a teen ager.

  • Smiler

    Hey – maybe Bishop and Father could unite first on this: take a vow of (public) silence on everything to do with this matter, effective immediately! No more public letters, announcements, interviews postings, nada, zip, nyet. Wake us when it’s over – when it’s all resolved, thank you very much. If both clerics – and their people and pals – say nothing more, then no more new analysis will be needed and all the comments will dry up too. That would be my prayer anyway.

    • dcs

      The difference is that the bishop has the authority to tell Fr. Pavone to be silent, while the latter has no such authority.

  • Ronald King

    I am happy that this is public because it reveals how much we lack love for those who appear to challenge our independent thought processes and actions. It is in this most basic human interpersonal conflict where the “culture of death” is conceived. The underlying hostility has its roots in instinctively perceiving that self is being subjected to authoritarian control without first being valued as a special gift of love. Instead the self is experienced as an object to be formed and manipulated by those who appear to be ignorant and unloving resulting in the development of an internal void which is filled with fear and rage and acted out against anyone and anything that appears to be unloving. Fr. Pavone and Bishop Zurek need to contemplate on the underlying issue of unresolved hostility which is the fuel that conceives and drives the culture of death. If they can be open and vulnerable enough to do this they will gain immense insight into the dynamics of abortion and how it relates to helplessness and hostility. They do not need mediation, they need psychotherapy.

  • Bill Russell

    May I quote: Have most people forgotten (if they ever knew) that Fr. Pavone is a priest of Amarillo because he did not want to be a parish priest in NY and so was given permission to set up a religious order in Amarillo? Are they aware that five years ago there was a groundbreaking ceremony in Amarillo to build a seminary and recognized the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life as a Society of Apostolic Life? That nothing ever became of the seminary after it was discovered that Priests for Life (a secular corporation) rather than the religious order itself had title to the land and control of the millions of dollars raised? That Bishop Yanta wound up suppressing the religious order with permission of the Vatican, and that Fr. Pavone lost an appeal to the Vatican? That the millions of dollars raised for the seminary were spent elsewhere by Priests for Life? Can anyone look at the audited financial statements and say how much was spent on Fr. Pavone’s sake for an apartment, automobile and expense account (you can certainly see there was nearly $1M in travel expenses)? Although no longer executive director, P for L’s own financial statements list Anthony DeStefano as getting nearly $200,000 annually. Can anyone tell from the audited financial statements how much was spent to purchase books by DeStefano, who’s books seem to have been both sold and given away by PFL? Is that part of the $1.7M in printing and publications? After spending that much for p&p, do they have an inventory left over or was out sent out, solicited or unsolicited?

    Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/father-pavones-bishop-responds#ixzz1arD4xk13

  • Vincentius

    You cannot compare Frs. Corapi and Euteneur’s dalliance (if true) with Fr. Pavone’s work in saving unborn babies from the Herods of our days. Priests for Life has already explained the reaon for the no show. Why the need to meet with the bishop who has no intention of showing charity to the victims being slaughtered in the womb. Money, accounting? It has been placed in the table, nobody is hiding anything. Canon Law, with experts as Mr. Peters, only muddle the truth. What is Truth? Here we go again. There are those it seems in the Amarillo diocese who are envious of the good work that Fr. Pavone is doing and no way, no how will they let him succeed. Harsh words these! But abortion is one of the sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance. Anybody who endeavors to prevent this good work may be committing one or more of the nine ways of being an accessory to sin.

    Obedience? There is holy obedience which is not the case here. An unfair command or order from a superior may be disobeyed. See what St. Thomas Aquinas has to say.

    • jkm

      The need to meet with the bishop is because the bishop ordered it (though he had only to request it, should Fr Pavone have been acting rightly under obedience). Those who encourage Fr Pavone in his disobedience to the authority of Christ’s Church, and in his overweening pride and arrogance in insisting that he and he alone can save babies, are guilty of schism and idolatry. Lucifer, too, decided it was better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.

      And speaking of priests whose pride makes them prey to being blinded by the smoke of Satan, “dalliance” is a pretty odd euphemism for sexually exploiting a disturbed person under the guise of performing an exorcism.

    • Friend

      Just a note that I personally know the woman who was abused – *not* “dallied with” – by Euteneuer. There’s no “if” about that situation, nor the further harm it has caused her.

      • Phil Steinacker

        And that is exactly the kind of viperous character assassination which I see constantly posted on this matter.

        Hey, “Friend!” Whats YOUR name?

        Since you opened the door, “friend”, we have a right to know who you are, why you say what you say, and the identity of your source for this information so their legitimacy and credibility can be scrutinized to evaluate the veracity of your slanderous comments.

        And slanderous they will remain until those demands are satisfied. BTW, if you are Catholic I recommend a trip to a confessional to obtain remittance of the sin of detraction.

        • Friend

          To elaborate: Euteneuer sexually abused, and caused enduring psychological harm to, and exacerbated the existing demonic possession of, a woman who had come to him for exorcism. Those things are objective fact and the reason why Arlington diocese sent Euteneuer packing back to Florida, where he has completely vanished from public view. The woman, my friend, has chosen to remain anonymous and I will not say anything that could even remotely jeopardize that. She has been spat upon quite enough already, even without her identity being known.

          • Smiler

            @Friend: obviously nobody on this message board is able to know what transpired with Father E. because we naturally don’t have access to relevant facts and information and it is really not the role of any of us to come to a conclusion or judgement about such matters anyway. You say that you are a friend of a woman who indicates she was wronged by him. Please understand that people of goodwill want nobody to be wronged – we are simply not in a position to know what happened, and unverifiable info from an anonymous person (yourself) can’t, by its very nature, add any clarity to the situation….. I think the best thing those of us on the outside (of Father E/Father P/ similar type situations) can do is to generically pray for an appropriate investigation by the appropriate parties leading to a fair and accurate assessment and conclusion. To do otherwise seems pointless, harmful to unity, and generally just seems to (unintentionally) play into the hands of the devil who loves to sow discord and discontent.

        • Smiler

          @Phil Steinacker: Sometimes it’s better to just leave these matters to the appropriate authorities to investigate, assess, and deal with. Father E. has helped enormously to advance the culture of life around the world and nothing he may have done otherwise will ever negate that. Fighting so closely (and effectively) against the culture of death and even doing exorcisms, he surely encountered exceptional challenges – beyond anything any of us is likely to ever experience – in the form of spiritual warfare (which can often manifest as
          sexual temptation). It thus seems entirely possible that, under such extreme spiritual warfare, he succumbed to temptations and acted gravely inappropriately. You smartly point out to @Friend, that we can’t take his anonymous word for what he is claiming – but we also can’t – from a message board! – go trying to verify or refute what he’s claiming either.

          I’m fairly confident Father E would agree with me on this, just based on familiarity with his writings and his focus defending life and (trying to) fend off spiritual warfare over the years. (No, I’m not a Friend of his.)

          So let’s all pray for a good resolution whatever that night entail.

  • Bill Russell

    Vincentius- You sound like you are channeling Martin Luther, for your argument is classic Protestantism. What will you say when the Pope backs the bishop over Pavone? Ecclesial obedience is something essential in the Church, not only for her bene esse (good order, discipline and the coherence of the whole, like in the Army), but also for her esse. The priest receives his ecclesial mission from his Bishop. As Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote, the priests of a diocese are to the Bishop as the strings are to a harp. Priests receive delegated jurisdiction from the Bishop to sanctify, govern and teach. Without the Bishop’s faculties, a priest cannot absolve validly except in danger of the penitent’s death and any marriage he attempts to solemnise will be invalid. Indeed, the only priests to receive ordinary faculties for marriages are parish priests (pastors as they are called in America), and another priest who wishes to solemnise a marriage must have delegation from the Pastor. That is how it has been in the Church for a very long time. A priest cut off from the Bishop is like a branch cut off from a tree. He does not lose the priestly character, but cannot exercise the Church’s ministry legitimately.

    • Vincentius

      “…when the pope backs the bishop”…? Do we wait and see? Will this go all the way to the Apostolic Roman Rota? The bishop is supposed to be sovereign in his See. He is to be obeyed, sure. But as we have seen and read (despite what you chronicled in your previous message sans citations, so these were but your ipse dixits), the recall of Fr. Pavone was immediate and final, no explanation needed. Or perhaps the little excuse given was “accounting” to which the PFL had already proffered. So are you saying that whatever utterance given by a bishop is not to be questioned, even if it appears to be unfair? How many of those in the clergy who suffered unjust punishments on the “whim” of his bishop? Think St. Pio of Pietrelcina. He obeyed and only said “may God’s will be done.” Those two years that that he was suspended, how many souls were deprived of graces channeled through him.

      “…when the pope backs the bishop”…? Really? Do you know how the machinery of the ecclesiastical tribunal grinds? It took many years (more than 10) before Fr. Curran was censured for his dissent against Humanae Vitae. A bishop is going to jail at the present time because he did not report a child-porn committed by one of his priests.

      Fr. Pavone obeyed, didn’t he? He submitted to his bishop, went on a retreat as ordered. He is incardinated in the Amarillo diocese and has priestly faculties there, and the bishop ordered that he has no faculties outside his diocese. A priest outside the jurisdiction of his incardination can always request permission from any bishop’s diocese he visits and it is usually granted. I am not a canon lawyer but I don’t think a bishop can prevent or bar his priests from exercising his faculties elsewhere. Take the case of the rescue of Baby Joseph where Fr. Pavone was involved. Are you aware of the particulars? It was a victory for the prolife and anti-euthanasia movement.

      Before you accuse me of positing protestant arguments, take first the log out of your eye. This is the classic neo-Catholic accusation from someone who is a blind follower of the present situation of the Church. Obey! Regardless of everything else, obey! After you take the log out of your eye, perhaps you will see who are the good bishops who truly shepherd their flock and do what Christ has commanded. Fr. Pavone’s case is nothing compared to what the bishops are doing in the priestly sex scandal, and their failure to admonish and prevent pro-aborts (politicians et al) from sacrilegious Communions.

  • My monthly donation to PFL is now doubled. And it will continue even if Fr. Pavone is “fired” from PFL.

    • Tota Tua

      THANK YOU David Wendell and I will say extra prayers for you!

  • Christopher Hunt

    This is a very Protestant-like response by Fr. Pavone. Sad, really. I fear that there are WAY to many staunchly “orthodox” Catholics that tend to be more “American” than “Catholic.” The Church is not a republic or a democracy. It is a simple fact. Apparently, many celebrity priests need to be put in line.

  • Peterman

    Mark, every other article you and I disagree and agree. On this one we totally agree. I don’t care what Pavone’s side of the story is, your Bishop calls, you answer. Period. This type of willful disobedience is outrageous. Obedience is such a huge part of the core values of the Church and was such a frequent cross in the lives of the Saints. Look at Ven Solonus Casey, he was ordered several times by his superiors to move to a new place, pack up and go. One time he was ordered to stop teaching a study class on the book “The City of God.”
    What did Ven Solonus do argue? Nope, he obeyed. Fr Pavone might start by reading a copy of The Lives of the Saints.

  • John Davis

    His excellency wasn’t petulant when he ordered the priest back to the diocese for a meeting and then left for 2 weeks on vacation, but the Priest is petulant when he requests a mediator for the meeting?

    • dcs

      Of course. The two are not equals here.

  • Peterman

    John Davis,

    Since when does a priest question his superior Bishop and ask to have a mediator present? In what world is this acceptable? Never in the entire history of the Catholic Church was this acceptable. The Church is a hierarchical structure, not a democracy. If the bishop orders him somewhere and then goes on vacation for a year, it’s his business. It’s the business of the priest or religious to obey. When hey don’t obey they’re acting very much like Luther.

    • John Davis


      Not true at all. You must remember that the Bishop chose to invoke a canonical penalty upon Fr. Pavone, that of suspension. Fr. Pavone, according his right under church law, appealed it. Now the Bishop requests a meeting and Fr. Pavone, acting upon the advice of his canon lawyer, requests a mediator. Had the Bishop not suspended the Priest, then I would agree with you, but once the Bishop chose to invoke canon law rather than a Pastoral approach, that changed the dynamic.

      And as an example, I’ve (first hand) heard a Bishop to tell people to do things that were gross violations of conscience. So when I told him no, I can not do that, was I acting like Martin Luther? What about a Bishop that asks his staff to cover up a child abuse case?

      The Priest, in this case, did exactly what was his right under canon law.

      Having said that, I don’t agree with Fr. Pavone’s refusal to meet with the Bishop, I don’t see any downside to the meeting, but I don’t believe he is being petulant.


    • Tota Tua

      Since the Bishop is publicly accusing the priest of not providing documentation that the organization provided, that the Bishop then admitted that he didn’t have time to look at the financials. The Bishop who conducted this publicly after asking Fr Pavone to keep it private. When someone doesn’t feel safe, one asks to have a witness. Fr Pavone has every reason to need a mediator given the info that has come to light this week.

      • DB

        Spot on analysis, Tota Tua. In fact, a mediator would be good for both parties, and for the truth to prevail. If the truth is properly respected, a mediator can only help, and neither side should oppose such a mediator. Moreover, a mediator does not usurp the Bishop’s authority.


  • Sean North

    The hierarchy has created a legalistic relationship with their priests. Priests MUST listen to their canon lawyers or risk possible canonical ambush. No priest likes it; but that’s the world that’s been created for them.

    • irishsmile

      Thank you for saying that. Few Catholics understand that.

    • Peterman

      He can show up with a canon lawyer or a team of canon lawyers. If he’s not showing his books to the Bishop he’s likely never going to be allowed to run an organization or appear on a television show.

      Should he desire to be a non priest he would of course be free to say and do what he wishes but he’d have to start from scratch and they would probably threaten him with legal action if he tried to use anything anything associated with his former organization.

  • elleblue

    Canon lawyers! Are you kidding me? Fr. Pavone can’t make a simple decision to be obedient to his Bishop without advice from a canon lawyer? Maybe Fr. Pavone needs to grow up and recall his vows he made at ordination.

    With this kind of nonsense happening within the Church who needs to worry about external attacks?

  • Bill Russell

    Oh dear. Just put two and two together Pavone was dismissed from the Sulpicians. Then he tangled with the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, for refusing to obey him. By the Cardinal’s mercy he was allowed to go to another diocese (Amarillo) if they would have him. Now he is on the outs with that diocese. Also, his seminary project was condemned by his bishop and the Holy See. Is there a pattern here?

    Gody pity those, who like Corapi’s “fans”, placed their hero above his superiors.

  • Sean North

    I don’t wish to be contentious here. The fact is, however, that once a canonical process has begun and an appeal made to the Holy See (by either the bishop or Father Pavone), then nothing is off the record. Hence, the bishop’s request for a “private” meeting was itself canonically inappropriate. You may not like it, I may not like it; but those are the facts.

    If Father Pavone had showed up with his canon lawyer, the bishop would have regarded this as insolent and highly insulting. I do agree that there should have been some canonical explanation of why Father Pavone was not coming to a “private” meeting. I hope it was a genuine time mishap in communication and things hit the internet before effective communication could be exchanged.

    For the record, I speak as one who has been highly critical of Father Pavone’s tenure as head Priests for Life. I am not prone to be a supporter. He was far too political in his relationship with the National Right to Life Committee in the past. The NRLC would not connect the issue of contraception with abortion (that’s why it was a favorite with Republican Party Washington insiders).

    • John Davis

      Sean, I agree. It was the Bishop that chose the venue – he “suspended” Fr. Pavone, thus provoking a canonical process, rather than simply recalling him for a pastoral visit.

  • Peterman

    “Canonically inappropriate”? Give me a break.

    Good luck with that appeal to Rome. I’m sure Father Pavone will be back at Priests for life soon.

    • John Davis

      So you take delight in disparaging a priest who has dedicated his life to the church and the protection of the unborn. Smooth move.

      • Peterman

        Nice straw man argument Mike.

        Priests take a vow of obedience and all priests report and are subject to a Bishop including Pavone.

  • Eva

    Father Pavone is a spectacular priest. He should be a bishop, sooner rather than later, don’t you all think so?

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      No. We all certainly do not think so.

  • Bill Russell


    “It is becoming, therefore, that ye also should be obedient to your bishop, and contradict him in nothing; for it is a fearful thing to contradict any such person. For no one does [by such conduct] deceive him that is visible, but does [in reality] seek to mock Him that is invisible, who, however, cannot be mocked by any one. And every such act has respect not to man, but to God.” (St. Ignatius: Letter to the Magnesians; Ch 3)
    “Some indeed give one the title of bishop, but do all things without him. Now such persons seem to me to be not possessed of a good conscience, seeing they are not stedfastly gathered together according to the commandment.” (St. Ignatius: Letter to the Magnesians; Ch 4)