Instead of instantly leaping to the exhausted Conspiracy Theory explanation

…every time somebody suggests there is hard evidence for questioning the actions of a Conservative Catholic Folk Hero, what if Conservative Catholic Folk Hero Worshippers asked themselves if they themselves are part of a conspiracy to shout down decent Catholics who seek the Church’s good?  That way, when troubling facts like these keep surfacing and vindicating the good bishops that “faithful conservative Catholics” vilify for doing their jobs, “faithful conservative Catholics” will have done due diligence rather than yet again bringing shame to themselves by attacking as “enemies of the Faith” and “murderers of the unborn” honest and good people who desire the good of the Church.  With a track record of backing winners like Maciel, Euteneuer and Corapi and viciously condemning those who tried to blow the whistle, you’d think that the people who are currently excoriating Bp. Zurek would have learned to take just a little stock before, yet again, reflexively declaring the whole thing to be the work of Enemies of the Faith.  Just like Bp. Mulvey, Bp. Zurek deserves gratitude and has largely gotten kicked in the teeth for his troubles by self-appointed Judges, Juries, and Executioners.  Shameful.

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  • Sean

    Mark–The article has all the explanation anyone needs: “Priests for Life spokesman Jerry Horn attributed the registration problems to clerical error…”

    Oh, wait, that’s probably not what they mean by “clerical,” is it? 😉

  • Recently I wrote about Corapi, Pavone and Bishop Zurek in not-so-glowing colours. (I thought the tone of Bp Zurek’s letter to the bishops absolutely frightful, and at the time I thought Zurek himself had made his letter public.) What surprised me most about the avalanche of mail was the support for….(wait for it)….Father Corapi.

    If, after everything that has been revealed, people are still huge Corapi fans, this just goes to show how dangerous the “Celebrity Priesthood” is for Joe and Mary Catholic. And it might not be so great for priests themselves. To set aside the horrors surrounding Father Corapi, it is Father Pavone, not “Priests for Life” itself, that is the focal point of the “Priests for Life” scandal. If there were a board of priests, not just Father Pavone, at the top, then the organization would look less like “PRIEST for Life,” if you see what I mean.

  • Jordan M.

    I am even wondering WHY Fr. Pavone is EVEN being compared to Fr. Corapi?

    HAS Fr Pavone been charged with anything? If there was any financial scandal or mismanagement then shouldn’t it be blasted all over the news PROOF of such accusations?

    It boggles my mind how there are those that continue to rah-rah behind the Bishop but does anyone actually have anything more substantial to say about this matter other than bashing the supporters and defenders of Fr. Pavone?

    Mr. Shae ~ would you care to step up and step into Fr. Pavone’s shoes and dive into the work that he does?

    • Mark Shea

      I am even wondering WHY Fr. Pavone is EVEN being compared to Fr. Corapi?

      Because both carried on a guerrilla war against their bishops when their bishops were rightly exercising their authority to govern.

      • Jordan M.

        First of all, Fr. Corapi COMPLETELY disregarded his bishop’s order to return to his home diocese whereas in CONTRAST. Fr. Frank IMMEDIATELY returned to the Amarillo diocese on the day he was told to return to and has remained there since then.

        Fr. Corapi struck out on his own and left the priesthood, whereas Fr. Frank has gone thru the proper channels by appealing thru the vatican.

        Note, by canon law, Fr. Frank DOES NOT even have to be in Amarillo but he still is. Which does show OBEDIENCE on the part of Fr. Frank.

        Therefore: Fr. Frank CANNOT be compared to Fr. Corapi as that is like comparing the sky and the sea.

        Also: I reiterate: Would you care to step up and step into Fr. Frank’s shoes and dive into the Pro-Life work that he does?

        • Mark Shea

          I have acknowledged all these points in the past. And I’m not saying Fr. Pavone’s behavior is exactly like Corapi’s. But the fact remains that he has carried on a guerrilla war against his bishop and his bishop has every right to demand that give an account of his finances and that he do his priestly work. Your demand that I somehow fill his shoes in the prolife movement is a non sequitur.

  • Jordan M.

    I am trying to see your perspective but I still cannot grasp what you mean by Fr. Frank carrying on a “guerrilla warfare” against Bishop Zurek.

    What substantial proof do you have to point out the guerrilla warfare tactics?

    • Mark Shea

      Search my blog for the past couple months.

      I actually know Fr. Pavone a bit and have, in the past, defended him. But I think he’s way out of line here.

  • Actually, I was a front-line pro-life activist for two years, got chucked in a paddy wagon, got cautioned, got assaulted, got the T-shirt and wore it at a very hostile secular university. Oh, and that was in Canada. If you think pro-lifers are pariahs in the USA, try Canada. Writing begging letters to American Catholics and going on EWTN seem pretty good to me. So yeah.

    Incidentally, raising money is one of those things the laity can do although, yes, a guy in a Roman collar tends to have a better hold on the Catholic heart strings connected to the Catholic purse strings .

    What Fathers Corapi and Pavone have in common, besides being Catholic priests well-loved by Catholics who admirably care a lot about tradition and babies, is that they are the focus of scandals. Father Pavone is at the heart of a financial scandal. Father Corapi is at the heart of a clerical sexual misconduct scandal. And their personalities (and Roman collars) are on view to anyone who cares, Catholic or not, because they have become celebrity priests.

    Father Corapi, whether he initially meant to or not, created a cult around himself. Father Pavone may or may not have done the same thing, although it certainly seemed so when the pro-Pavone anti-Zurek rallies started. Catholics who look up to their priests, trust them and defend them deserve better than that. The collar wields a huge amount of emotional power, whether the wearer knows it or not. Throw in celebrity status, and look out.

    There may have been a time when it was okay to be a celebrity priest. As far as I know, nothing bad came from Bishop Fulton Sheen’s celebrity. But the stakes are too high nowadays: the fame should be spread around, or the focus taken from individual priests and placed on their orders or organizations. Who would take over Priests for Life if Father Pavone stepped down to be a parish priest? If nobody else could do it, then there is a problem. The Franciscan order did not die with St. Francis.

  • Jordan M.

    Like you, I myself know Fr. Frank Pavone for he was instrumental in getting me to a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat.

    I searched guerrilla warfare on your website but could not find anything pertaining to Fr Frank Pavone.

    If you can write an article about Fr. Frank’s guerrilla war tactic then you can cite a few examples instead of being vague about it.

    Again, Fr. Frank is currently in Amarillo, as attested by Mr. Mark Crutcher, even though he does not have to be BUT Fr. Frank IS there saying masses and doing other priestly duties.

    I fail to see where OBEDIENCE = Guerrilla War actions.

    Your blog also falls short of saying to Fr. Frank to just shut up and take whatever your bishop throws / hands you.

    Well, Mr. Shae, if I may quote:

    “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith; If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”

    So says St. Paul in his letter to the Romans (12: 6-8).

    I am neither belittling nor scoffing that regular priestly duties are menial, however, because of the gift that Fr. Pavone has (you yourself have stated you have met the man), he has been able to reach and touch the lives of not just men and women alike in the US but he happens to be a household name across the globe.

    Fr. Frank is not just a simple priest.

    Pro-Life leaders who highly respect him and who have worked for him, CAN and DO attest to that.

    Which is why I asked you earlier since you so agree with Bishop Zurek and his actions: Would you, yourself, step up and step into the shoes of Fr. Frank Pavone and do the exact same pro-life work that he does?

    You had already given your answer: you couldn’t.

  • Jackie Thorpe

    I find it utterly despicable the way that – from the very first moment this situation exploded on the public stage – absolutely every statement issued by Fr. Frank or PFL has been largely dismissed, twisted and discredited by the general public, whereas in contrast every word uttered by Bishop Zurek has been regarded as infallible and beyond question or reproach. Talk about a double standard.

  • Seth

    What guerrilla warfare? The only thing Fr. Pavone has done that can be definitively counted towards this claim, and barely I might add, is a couple passive-aggressive tweets. I’m not seeing it. If anyone is attempting guerrilla warfare, it’s Bishop Zurek! 1. He didn’t acknowledge receiving 40-some-odd financial documents over the past few years until a couple weeks ago, but calls Fr. Pavone back to Amarillo regarding “looming questions about the financials”. 2. Bishop Zurek asked that people no longer donate to Priests for Life, a non-profit that runs and survives solely on donations. 3. Leaves on a 2 week vacation right as Fr. Pavone is arriving into Amarillo as demanded of him. 4. Bishop Zurek says Fr. Pavone is suspended, his Vicar of Clergy says he’s not suspended and is still a priest in good standing, then Bishop Zurek again uses the word suspended and to this day he has not clarified what this means. 5. Invites Fr. Pavone to a face-to-face meeting and asks him not to speak with anyone about this meeting, then he goes off and posts a notice of the meeting invitation on his diocese website. 6. Claimed to the local media that Fr. Pavone was simply a ‘no-show’ to said meeting. 7. He is not even acknowledging receiving requests for meditation now, even though several Church officials have said they think mediation is necessary and would even volunteer for the role of mediator.

  • julian

    I actually feel better about PFL after reading the article.
    It actually gives me a bit more empathy for both sides, (thanks Amarillo Globe News, that was pretty well done).

    I can see how there would have been cause for review on the part of his Bishop and I can see where there could have been honest mistakes lost in the details of managing the logistics of $46M in fund raising. As the article pointed out,
    “It’s a cumbersome process, and it is a bit of a nightmare because the statutes aren’t uniform,” he said” I’d be surprised if mistakes didn’t occur. Then again, if folks are collectively shelling out $46M in contributions that’s a heck of a responsibility and one that ought to be handled with utmost diligence.

    I am still disappointed in how Fr. Pavone has responded to this in some of the particulars, but I also wonder if he was doing so out of a concern that PFL wasn’t going to be given a fair chance in accounting for its overall management. Not saying that excuses some of his actions, but Bishop Zurek’s initial and repeated use of the term “suspend” is confusing and alarming as Ed Peters has pointed out. While I think some of Fr. Pavone’s responses have been out of line and displayed poor ecclesiology and I also think a couple of his fund raising letters didn’t hit the mark, I don’t think I’d quite call Fr. Pavone’s action’s “Guerrilla Warfare.” I’m sure sometimes I display a poor grasp of my own vocation were you to watch me in action at my house with my family, but I hope I wouldn’t be called out as being engaged in warfare.

    I can tell you that when a legal problem or accusation gets thrown in your lap from an unexpected source in which you feel you’re being treated unfairly it sometimes takes awhile to cool down and resign yourself to the fact that the matter is in the Lord’s hands. With long protracted legal issues there are many proceedings in which you can be presented with the temptation to flare up at the injustice. However, at some point with that or really any other prolonged suffering you have to throw up your hands and say “I’m not owed anything and all of this belongs to the Lord anyway.” Perhaps Fr. Pavone initially thought this was something that would just go away quickly and he could blow it off and quickly get back to business. I don’t know. I’m just guessing. And if that were that case, would it have been totally on as far as a correct regards for his Bishop anyway? Probably not. I’d like to be able to show some sort of empathy for Fr. Pavone without excusing some of his actions. Likewise I wouldn’t really presume to know what’s going on with Bishop Zurek. I do know he’s a bishop so I’ll at the very least give him the benefit of the doubt.

    But if Fr. Pavone is in Amarillo serving in his priestly duties away from the PFL action, I’d like to think that’s a good sign that’s he’s working on getting this right. I’d be willing to bet that Bishop Zurek hopes to get this right as well. I hope this does end up well with the outcome that both Fr. Pavone, Bishop Zurek and all who have been following this grow in their love for the Church and are renewed in their dedication to stand for life. We’re certainly not beyond the possibility of that outcome.

  • Zane Warwick

    Throughout the course of this entire debate, people have consistently overlooked the fact that, according to Canon law, Bishops have a certain set of responsibilities to their priests. Contrary to the impression apparently held by some, the legitimate authority which Bishops have over the priests entrusted to their care does not mean that Bishops are free to do whatever they want, but rather that each Bishop must be guided by certain fundamental principles.

    For instance, the principle of truth dictates that “the bishop must have truth at the heart of his pastoral actions. Pastoral activity is only authentic when it is anchored in truth, and thus consequently inauthentic when it is not. A Bishop is not allowed to lie to his priests, lie about his priests, or ruin the good reputation of his priests. Restitution is required if this is done. Further if a priest provides his Bishop with information he requested, then the Bishop cannot claim he does not have it (Apostolorum Successores, 57).

  • Jordan M.

    Mr. Shea, kindly look into the post of JCD who happens to want to advertise your readers to go to another website / blogger which has absolutely NOTHING to do with this article.

  • Jeff

    The bottom line is this: it is Jesus Christ, not Father Pavone or his bishop, Who has all power. The best thing Fr. Pavone can do is try to be a saint, like all of us, including his bishop.
    A look at history and the saints shows how important obedience and humility are. Bp Zurek has a duty to ensure his priests are following the law. We should pray for them both rather than call names.
    Our Lord in His infinite wisdom has things in control. Believing that somehow Bp Zurek is destroying PFL by keeping Fr. Pavone nearby is ridiculous. That is the tone of the PFL emails I’ve been getting (and since unsubscribed to).