Deacon Greg reflects my confusion about the Fr. Frank Pavone situation:
That’s the statement being put out by Priests for Life:
We are happy to announce that the Vatican has upheld Father Frank Pavone’s appeal and has declared that Father Pavone is not now nor has ever been suspended. Father Pavone remains a priest in good standing all over the world.
We were confident all along that a just decision would be made by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy. While we fully agree that Bishop Zurek has rightful authority over the priests of his diocese, we also see the urgent need for Father Pavone to be allowed to conduct his priestly ministry outside the diocese of Amarillo for the good of the pro-life movement.
However, last week, Bishop Zurek had this to say:
In its decree of May 18, 2012, the Congregation for the Clergy has sustained Father Frank A. Pavone’s appeal of his suspension from ministry outside the Diocese of Amarillo and his appointment from me on October 4, 2011 as Chaplain of the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ in Channing, Texas. Father Pavone is to continue his ministry as chaplain until further notice. As a gesture of good will, I will grant permission to him in individual cases, based upon their merits, to participate in pro-life events with the provision that he and I must be in agreement beforehand as to his role and function.
All other matters are outside the purview of this statement.
Amarillo, Texas, June 20, 2012
+Most Rev. Patrick J. Zurek, STL, DD
Bishop of Amarillo
Seems to be a little bit confusing, and it’s unclear what the implications are. Stay tuned.
The reason I’m confused is that canonist Ed Peters was saying way back when this happened that Fr. Pavone was not suspended and that Bp. Zurek was using the term “suspended” idiosyncratically (which I suspect was Peters’ diplomatic way of saying the bishop is not fully boned up on precise canonical lingo). At any rate, the Bishop continues to use the word suspension in his recent statement (even though Fr. Pavone was never suspended in the first place) and Rome, just to make things more confusing, agrees that Fr. Pavone was not suspended and is a priest in good standing–which as near as I can tell nobody ever claimed, except for the bishop who didn’t seem to know what “suspended” meant according to canonist Ed Peters.
At any rate, Fr. Pavone and Priests for Life are declaring victory and vindication while the bishop seems to me to indicate that, well, nothing has really changed in terms of practical day to day life. The actual quarrel was about the bishop, not “suspending” him, but telling him to stay in Amarillo and do his priesthood since he is a priest first and an activist second. The statement of the bishop indicates that this is still what the bishop says and that Fr. Pavone’s activism is still to take a back seat to the his priesthood in the bishop’s mind. So… I don’t know what to make of it. But it appears everybody is happier and that it’s working toward some sort of resolution. So: good.