Confusing June 27, 2012

Deacon Greg reflects my confusion about the Fr. Frank Pavone situation:

Vatican: “Father Pavone is not now nor has ever been suspended”

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.

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  • I love the tag.

    • Linebyline

      Seconded. Okay, you could substitute any adjective before “politics” and it would be no less accurate (in my own case, anyway; can’t speak for Mark), but still…

  • TheAdman

    I couldn’t find this more clear.

    If the Vatican is siding with Father Pavone, then the Vatican is saying that none of the issues (financial, behavioral, etc.) had any sort of founding. Of course, we must respect the office that the Bishop holds, so there might be a little ambiguity with regards to the language. However, the Vatican is taking the prudent approach with this situation, which is good, and Father Pavone isn’t thumbing his nose at the bishop and is continuing a bettering of their relationship as priest and bishop, so good all around I must say.

    In the meantime, I’m celebrating! If there is one man who will END abortion, it’s Father Pavone!

    • Mark Shea

      What “course” pray is the Vatican taking? They seem to be saying what Ed Peters was saying a year ago: there’s no suspension. Okay. But so what? It’s obvious the bishop is still going to insist Fr. Pavone put his priesthood first and his activism second. So, what has changed?

      And no. One man will not end abortion. That’s a task for the Holy Spirit, not a super hero.

      • TheAdman

        Of course – there is no suspension and there never was. They are upholding that and that means that Father is cleared of any implication of being irresponsible, disobedient, etc.

        If Father Frank had not ever put his activism second and his priesthood first, he would never have returned to Amarillo and he would never have tried to resolve things with the bishop. That makes him a humble priest willing to work with his superiors to End Abortion but still work as a diocesan priest. The Bishop is allowing him to resume the truly amazing work he’s doing over at Priests for Life.

        Um, hello? Who does the Holy Spirit work through? Man. How are the saints so powerful and so saint-like? Through the Holy Spirit working through them. Obviously, every good in this world is done through the power of the Holy Spirit. But Father Pavone CAN and WILL end abortion with the Holy Spirit working through him.

        • Mark Adams


          I’m sorry but you are just plain wrong. The Congregation for the Clergy’s decree does nothing more than address a very narrow issue: whether or not Fr. Pavone is suspended as that term is used in canon law. He is not. That does not mean that he must be allowed outside the diocese. And it does not mean that Bishop Zurek’s concerns about Fr. Pavone and Priests for Life are without merit (they may well be, I have no idea, but the Vatican decree does not address that matter).

          • ToriLala

            Not to interrupt your conversation, but I don’t know if either of you are aware of this little piece of information:

            What is this a link to? Why, it’s Father Franks Celebrant Card! What does that mean? Why, that Bishop Zurek has given his priest the ok to go outside the diocese. And if this is so, than as the Congregation’s statement/decree says, Fr Pavone is a priest in good standing, never was suspended, and is able to work outside the diocese!

            Oh, and by the way, NO Bishop can tell his priest that he cannot go outside of the diocese without having suspending his priest, which as we see is not the case, so Father Frank is free to go outside the diocese to do his work. Father Frank was given permission by Cardinal O’Connor to be the Director of Priests for Life. And Bishop Zurek agreed to this – if he hadn’t, Father Pavone would not be Director of Priests for Life. Knowing that a Bishop is a father to a priest, he would clearly never go against his fatherly duties and/or the Vatican.

            The reason for Bishops Zureks statement was to show that he obeys the Holy Mother Church.

            Now as for the other implications, well, if there was any truth or backing to them, would they uphold Father Frank’s case and clear him from the suspicion of suspension? I would think that if there was any truth to these concerns, the Vatican would not have ruled this way or would not have put out a decree at this time without more research.

            • Mark Shea

              Um, the bishop still has the final say on whether Fr. Pavone leaves the diocese. Is anybody bothering to read what was posted?

              • ToriLala

                Well of course he does. But if Bishop Zurek wanted Father Pavone to stay in the diocese, why issue him this card? Why allow him to go to DC where he’s at the National Right to Life Convention?

                Why you gotta be so negative, guy? Father Frank is back in action and saving lives! Why aren’t you happy?? Do you hate babies or something? Goodness gracious, dude!

                • Mark Shea

                  I think it’s rather obvious that Bp. Zurek, despite the inflammatory accusations of some hero worshippers, never wanted to destroy Fr. Pavone’s prolife work. He wanted to make sure that he put his real vocation–his priesthood–first. So the restriction to Amarillo was always a temporary measure intended to make that happen. So it doesn’t surprise me at all that he is now loosening the restriction. What he is obviously *not* doing is saying “Okay. But to the way it was. I was out of line.”

                  I thought it was clear I am happy that they are working things out. What makes me unhappy is, well, idolatrous idiots who say things like “Do you hate babies or something?” because they illustrate exactly why the media campaign Fr. Pavone conducted against his bishop was poisonous the the minds of people like you.

                  • Golden88

                    If the Bishop did not want to destroy Father Frank’s work, then why would he air out his issues with Father in public in the manner that he did? He opened Father up to attack, and told people to stop donating to his ministry. Now the Congregation has ruled IN FATHER FRANK’S FAVOR – and as I commented further down, the Congregation is the only group with access to all of the knowledge, research, documentation, etc., and if they could reach a conclusion in favor of Father Frank, they must see that Father is solid.

                    Father proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he DOES put his priesthood first, and he proved that TO THE VATICAN.

                    The only idiot here is you, for fanning the flames against Father Frank and in inciting the blog-sphere with your confusion.

                    • Mark Shea

                      Your hatred of the bishop simply demonstrates my point.

                    • Victoria

                      @Golden88 I looked up Mark Shea’s name on google and come to find out the poor thing has a problem with causing division on the blogs especially anything having to do with Fr. Frank. The man clearly has an issue with Father. God help him! Really looks like the devil has some Catholic cohorts on his side and is using them to destroy the reputation of a priest and use the name of a good Bishop to back up their OCD abhorrent thoughts.

                      Here’s a copy of one of Mark’s comment (not an example of Catholic stewardship to want to follow)

                      “The bishop is obviously no stranger to the spin room. Following this deprecatory statement, there was a flurry of denigrating articles from the usual suspects. I’m thinking in particular of the Catholic Culture article (no author — I guess the article wrote itself) where Phil Lawler has been leading the charge on libeling Father Pavone’s good name. And of course the ever pesky gadfly Mark Shea felt it necessary to chime in without all the facts. How’s this for showing “respect” for a Catholic priest in good standing:
                      “This kind of petulance makes the bishop look smarter every day. This is your bishop we are talking about, Fr. Pavone. Show some respect.” – Mark Shea

                    • Mark Shea

                      Failure to grasp concept.

        • Mark Shea

          But Father Pavone CAN and WILL end abortion with the Holy Spirit working through him.

          Exhibit A in why the American cult of celebrity is so toxic and dangerous when it finds its way into the Church. There’s only one Messiah and the job is taken. Fr. Pavone would be horrified at this idolatry.

          • Golden88

            Mark Shea – Shame on you!

            After all you’ve done to Father Pavone, after all you’ve smeared about him, you should be calling and BEGGING him for an apology! This indeed IS a victory for Father Pavone. The Bishop has been put in check by the Vatican, and Father Pavone has been found to have been completely obedient and in the right and of good standing. The ministry that Father Pavone runs is an absolute good and essential in ending the atrocities of abortion. It is not idolatry to recognize greatness, and to recognize the Hand of God guiding a human being to do His Will.

            I pray for you, sir, and hope that your cynicism and apparent hatred of the good of this man will eventually dissolve and be replaced by the Love of God. Father Pavone will continue to have my support as he fights for Life!

            • Mark Shea

              I bear Fr. Pavone no ill will at all. I do think that he was out of line in his response to his bishop and I think the bishop is basically maintaining what he maintained all along: that Fr. Pavone is a priest first and and activist second. So it appears nothing has really changed. And I think that many people, including apparently you, think that pointing this out is somehow enmity to Fr. Pavone–which only demonstrate that his bishop was right to be concerned and I was right to concerned about the popular response to the bishop. I’m happy that Fr. Pavone labors in the prolife vineyard. I also think that putting human life ahead of the priesthood is a dangerous enthusiasm.

  • Jack

    This whole incident makes an excellent case in my view for restricting the time a Priest stays outside his own diocese on ‘special projects’, one Priest through good work can unintentionlly build up a cult of personality who tell him that he is the new Moses, Father starts to believe what the cult tells him and ends up thinking that he IS Moses and can do no wrong. Hence when the Bishop exercises his rights he is called a bully boy, personally I think that Father Pavone (probebly a good guy) should have resigned from the leadership of Priests for Life a LONG time ago and emphised that the movement is more importent than he is and gone back to being your average Padre in the Diocese.

    Ok I’ve said my piece, time to duck and cover 🙂

    • ToriLala

      You do know that a Bishop cannot restrict a priest from doing pro life work, right? And that Father Pavone was given special permission to run Priests for Life outside of the diocese by the Bishop he was under at the time?

      As someone stated above, the Vatican is upholding Fr Pavone’s appeal – which means all along he’s been a good boy. And what is this cult nonsense? Father Frank is one of the only true brave priests to stand up for Life in such a public and aggressive way. No other priests, bishops, etc, are as fierce as he is in defending the unborn, the sick, the elderly, and the ones who cannot defend themselves.

      How many times have you heard a homily on pro life issues and activism from your pastor? The Catholic Church, God bless us and keep us, is too afraid to stand up. But not Father. So he has a following – GREAT! They’re people who are sick of the priests and bishops who are too timid or complacent to actively stand up for life!!!

      • Ted Seeber

        “And what is this cult nonsense? Father Frank is one of the only true brave priests to stand up for Life in such a public and aggressive way. No other priests, bishops, etc, are as fierce as he is in defending the unborn, the sick, the elderly, and the ones who cannot defend themselves.”

        That’s the most unintentionally ironic statement I’ve read all day. Right up there with that nun from the LWCR saying that she doesn’t hate men in one sentence and then blasting the patriarchy with the next sentence.

        Anyway, I hope it was unintentional. I know plenty of priests willing to stick up for the right to life and say so that are NOT members of Priests For Life or related to Fr. Pavone in any way.

        • ToriLala

          Ok, I’m going to have to go with it being unintentional, because I’m not seeing the irony of that statement.

          You can love someone/something and still be annoyed at some of the things they do. For example – You love your family. They are everything to you, you love hanging out with them, they help you to grow, etc. But man, can’t a person get any privacy? Why do they have to be so loud?

          See what I mean? All I meant was that too often in the Catholic Church, the clergy is silent on these matters. Father Frank is one of the few, if not the only priest, to have taken the pro life work out into the world in the caliber that he has. Too often the Church in the USA is silent, or passive, or whatever it is that they are. Father Frank is leading the way in the pro life movement, and you have to be blind not to see that.

          • Ted Seeber

            The irony is that you started claiming that the charges of Fr. Frank beginning to have a cult of personality follow him were nonsense- then you spent the rest of the paragraph gushing about how Fr. Frank is the best thing since sliced bread- EXACTLY what a brainwashed cult member would be expected to do.

            I know of HUNDREDS of priests who have taken the pro-life work out into the world, and in ways much more concrete than what Priests For Life have done. For instance, in my area of the country, Fr. Taaffe saw way back in the 1970s that one of the big problems with the pro-life movement was the lack of support for pregnant teenage girls. He’s gone now, but his Fr. Taaffe homes provide an alternative to abortion for 40-50 girls a year in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

            And he is by no means alone. Locally to me, Pregnancy Resource Clinics outnumber Planned Parenthood Clinics by a 3:1 ratio. Every Mother’s day, every parish in the Archdiocese sells flowers to support them.

            The Knights of Columbus has been funding ultrasound machines to be placed in clinics all around the country.

            Your claim that the church in the United States has been passive on this issue just shows your ignorance about how much is actually being done, in the real world.

            The Pro-life movement is a LOT larger than Priests For Life, and while I appreciate Fr. Frank’s contribution, it is NOT the only thing the Church is doing by a long shot.

            • ToriLala

              Oh my gosh, stay on topic. The topic of this post, in case you forgot, is the decree from the Vatican on Father Frank’s status.

              No one is saying that there aren’t pro life ministries that are huge outside of Priests for Life. But you cannot deny Priests for Life’s influence and victories in the Pro Life movement.

              • Ted Seeber

                “No one is saying that there aren’t pro life ministries that are huge outside of Priests for Life. But you cannot deny Priests for Life’s influence and victories in the Pro Life movement.”

                To tell the truth, I worked in pro-life for about 20 years *before* ever hearing about Priests For Life, and had in fact only heard about them for two years before this scandal erupted, so YES, I do deny that they have some messiah-like influence in the pro-life movement and that Fr. Frank is the new Jesus Christ.

                That he has had some success in turning PRIESTS towards pro-life activism, I have no doubt. But his organization isn’t even for lay people, it is for Priests. And somehow, I have my doubts about priests who are faithful enough to be pro-life running around breaking their vow of celibacy and causing women to get abortions.

                Operation Rescue. The Susan B. Anthony List. Pregnancy Resource Clinics. Homes for Unwed Mothers. These are the organizations where the rubber meets the road and lives are actually being saved.

                • Jack

                  Ok I’ve put my head well and truley above the parapit.

                  My point was that these things CAN and do happen, look at Fr. Marciel, Fr Etunhear etc etc I was NOT accusing Fr Pavone of anything, I was merely stating that the potential exists in such situations and that like Mark said priests are Priests first and foremost. Therefore they should only do this stuff on a national level for a few years at a time.

  • ds

    I really like the way Zurek has handled this for the most part. The was a large kerfuffle over this for a short time, and then it trickled off to the point I didn’t hear anything for months. Zurek was putting the situation in a state which would not fan the infighting flames.

    • ToriLala

      Say what? If anyone handled this situation well it was Father Frank. He was obedient and went back to the diocese and did his duties there, as well as met with the Bishop as per his requests and stopped public ministry as the Bishop asked. The work he does as National Director of Priests for Life serves the common good of everyone in all dioceses and parishes and inspires the faithful in the United States.

      I’ll be doubling my donations to Father Pavone.

  • Juliet

    Fr Frank Pavone is free at last! free at last! im sorry, i just found that fitting for the moment.. Fr Frank has been respectful and patient with the Bishop this past year, i commend him for that because i could never endure that humiliation. Here is a man who dedicated his life to end abortion and now people, his own followers are questioning his motives? Im pretty sure once Fr Frank appealed to Rome he was free to leave Amarillo but out of respect and loyalty to his Bishop he obeyed. So the Bishop recalls Fr Frank on what grounds? Financial mismanagement? Where is the proof? He pretty much told everyone to withhold donations and made it a very public matter instead of handling it behind closed doors. We all hung on the Bishops word and nothing came. Was he suspended? VERY doubtful & Now a ministry, PFL, who has done Gods work in trying to end abortion has suffered greatly. We all can agree to disagree but the final say comes from the Vatican, not Fr Frank, not the Bishop. The Vatican says Fr Frank is a priest in good standing then it must be so. Will any of you question their authority?

    • Mark Shea

      Nobody ever said he wasn’t a priest in good standing. Why are people treating this story as though anything has changed?

      • Jude Web

        Actually Mark, when the Bishop first came out with his accusations he said Fr Frank was being suspended which in other words means Fr Frank is not a priest in good standing, then the bishop later went on to say that Fr Frank infact was not suspended. Maybe people are treating the story as though things have changed because the Bishop is frequently changing his mind. One minute hes saying he hasnt recieved PFLs financial audits and the next he says he did recieve them.If the person making accusations is zig zagging all over the place what choice do we have but to zig zag too?

        • Mark Shea

          In other words, his language was confusing. I thought I said that. I also thought I said that the bishop appeared to be loosening the leash, which is a change. What I don’t see is “Father Pavone vindicated! Bishop laid low in shame! Devil’s attempt to destroy prolife movement thwarted!” which is how some of the more illiterate readers here are interpreting the story. In fact, the bishop appears to be saying that Fr. Pavone’ first duty is to be a priest, but he will loosen the leash a bit now and let him do a few prolife things so long as they don’t impinge on his first duty, the priesthood. So. Confusing language. Check. Small practical change. Check. Same basic point from the bishop still being upheld. Check. It’s that last point I’m referring to when I say nothing much has changed.

  • Alla

    Now now everyone …
    Let’s settle down and keep our focus on what the Holy Spirit is doing here. Going back and forth debating on this is putting the limelight on what the evil one has wanted to do all along (DIVISION). We pray for the Bishop and for Fr. Frank . It’s clear that Holy Mother church is encouraging Fr. Frank to continue working to end abortion.

    Fr. Frank CONGRATS!

  • Charlotte

    The Vatican has not released Fr. Pavone from his obligation to obey his bishop. If the bishop wants him to stay in Amarillo, or assigns him to a parish, that’s still his prerogative. Nothing’s changed.

    • Mark Shea


    • ToriLala

      No one is saying that Fr Pavone is released from his obligation to his bishop – that would be wrong to imply, and Fr Pavone isn’t even asking for that. But the Bishop has gotta see the importance of Fr Pavone’s work! This man saves lives!!

      • Charlotte

        We’ll see. Of course Fr. Pavone’s pro-life work is important, but the most important thing any priest does is provide us with the sacraments. Fr. Pavone’s pro-life work, as I hope he would agree, is not more important than what’s done by scores of unheralded, anonymous parish priests everyday.

        • ToriLala

          No, of course not – if Father Pavone did not think that his ordinary priest duties were not as important as his prolife work, then why would he bother to return to Amarillo? You know he was ministering to the Sisters down there, and enjoyed it if you look at his past posts. But to restrict a priest with so much holding in the world as a pro life leader would be detrimental to the cause and cause further suffering to the unborn.

          • Charlotte

            If the Holy Spirit chooses to use Father in this capacity, then praise God. If not, then praise God. No one is indispensable.

            • ToriLala

              Of course. May the Holy Spirit guide us all.

              But I must disagree that no one is indispensable – we are all called to serve God in one way or another. And Father Frank has been called to the pro life work (which is obvious). In this way, he is indispensable to the plan that God has for all of us.

              • Charlotte

                Only God is indispensable. He can use whomever he chooses. We all have our own ideas about what God must have in mind, but the Spirit blows where He will.

    • Jude Web

      This is very true, but why wouldnt the Bishop want his priest to continue pro-life work? PFL does outstanding work in the movement..

      • Mark Shea

        The real question is, “Why would the bishop think his priestly vocation takes precedence over his activism?” Another good question is, “Why do so many fans of Fr. Pavone fail to see that is the question?”

  • Alla

    If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” (Mark 3:24)

    Where are your comments going folks? I’m a new convert to the Catholic church and to me this really seems like a ping pong game of who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s a shame to see these types of comments as some are losing focus on the great decision the Vatican made. The Bishop clearly stated Fr. Frank could continue his priestly duties out of Amarillo. @Torilala thanks for posting the link on Father’s celebrate card . I had called the nuncio a while back to ask why in the world would any church official tell a priest under his jurisdiction that he could only celebrate mass in the diocese he was assigned to. Glad you clarified this Tori.

    • Golden88

      I’m trying to figure out where the confusion is and why is everyone is so divisive. If Bishop Zurek, Father Pavone (Priests for Life), and the Congregation have issued these joint statements, why are we fighting? We should be celebrating the unity and victory that this decree has pronounced. Father Frank has once again been released on the evils of the world with the backing of his Bishop and the Vatican. All of the issues of yesteryear have been cleared, and we can all now focus on the true evil that is Abortion.

      • Ted Seeber

        The thing I’m worried about is stopping the focus on Abortion and starting the focus on Fr. Frank.

        • ToriLala

          The fact that Father Frank is at the National Right to Life Convention without a huge press release or huge bru-ha-ha indicates that the focus is still on Abortion and not on him.

          Your hatred is showing, dear.

          • Ted Seeber

            My FOCUS is showing. Note above where I listed organizations that have had WAY more influence on *actual women tempted into the sin of abortion* than Priests For Life ever will.

            It’s the Black Sheep Dog Schism all over again.

            • Mark Shea

              No. It’s not. Fr. Pavone has behaved nothing like Corapi. He is guilty of no grave sin and has not soiled his priesthood, rejected his bishop, or done anything like that. Some of his *fans* are behaving ridiculously and forming a cult of personality. But he has been obedient to his bishop (with a few understandably human rough patches). DON’T compare him to a scoundrel like Corapi.

  • FrMichael

    This entire thing has been confusing. I look forward to Dr. Peters’ take on the recent Roman decision. But certain commentators here are underestimating a bishop’s ability to hamper a free-lance priest. Take this comment for example:

    “You do know that a Bishop cannot restrict a priest from doing pro life work, right?”
    Well, I know that a bishop can assign one of his priests to be a pastor, which will require him to live near his church (Canon 533 n. 1). Also in that canon, vacation is defined as one month and “in order to be absent from the parish for more than a week, however, a pastor is bound to inform the local ordinary.” (c. 533 n. 3). As a pastor myself, I assure you that working 70 hour-plus weeks without end will put a damper on any extensive outside ministries. Being a parochial vicar/associate pastor doesn’t help much (well, the working hours are fewer!) because he has the obligation to reside in the parish as well (canon 550 n. 1).

    “And that Father Pavone was given special permission to run Priests for Life outside of the diocese by the Bishop he was under at the time?” Which means nothing. The current Ordinary has no obligation to follow any special permission given by a prior bishop. Refer Canon 381 n. 1: “A diocesan bishop in the diocese entrusted to him has all ordinary, proper, and immediate power which is required for the exercise of his pastoral functions except for cases which the law or a decree of the Supreme Pontiff reserves to the supreme authority or to another ecclesiastical authority.” Nothing in there about being bound by the decisions of a previous bishop, whose power over a diocese ceases with his death, resignation accepted by the Pope, transfer, or other removal (privation) by the Pope. (Canon 416) The only person in the Church who has the ability to assign Fr. Pavone over the objections of his Ordinary is Pope Benedict XVI.

    Now I hope that Fr. Pavone is able to return full time to PFL and that all the shadows of canonical irregulatiries and financial problems are dissipated. But let’s not pretend that the recent Roman decision gives Fr. Pavone the green light, in and of itself, to fully resume his former PFL duties. Bishop Zurek still holds the trump cards here. Let us pray that he uses them to serve the pro-life cause by unleashing Fr. Pavone once again.

    • Golden88

      Everyone, listen closely:

      The Vatican ruled in favor of Father Frank. Unless you want to bring the Cardinal that’s the head of the Congregation in on this debate, nothing will change that fact.

      What did the Congregation decree? That there was no foundation for the empty allegations and smearing that was slammed against Father Pavone, thereby ruining his reputation and hurting his ministry.

      Yay for you for quoting Canon Law. Yay for Dr. Peters for being so knowledgeable. But you cannot dispute what has come forth from the Vatican, and as none of us have viewed the documentation that the Vatican viewed, we cannot claim to know the ins and outs of their decision making. However, if the Vatican is siding with Father Frank, and it is, they must have reached a conclusion resulting from the extended study of all of the documentation given by Priests for Life, Father Frank, and Bishop Zurek. And if the decision that the Congregation made is good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

      • Mark Shea

        The more you talk, the more you demonstrate Bp. Zurek’s reasons for concern.

        • ToriLala

          The more you talk, the more you risk your brain slipping out of your mouth.

          Why do you find it so bad that we’re so HAPPY that the Vatican clearly ruled in favor of Father Frank? If a man such as Father Frank has this great talent and great ministry, and has been proven to be of good standing and all those nasty things that were said about him were proven to be not true, then why can’t we celebrate? Why can’t we be glad to have such a leader in our midst?

          Maybe someone is jealous that the spotlight is on Father Frank once again?

          • Ted Seeber

            What I find *downright scary and supportive of Bishop Zurak* is the fact that you seem to care more about Fr. Frank than you do about *local* avoidance of abortion in your own back yard, wherever that is.

            Yeah, horray, Fr. Frank is back in charge of Priests For Life. But it’s not Lay People For Life, it’s not Right to Life, it’s not even the Personhood Movement or even an organization that is fully supporting Evangelium Vitae in issues other than abortion.

            • ToriLala

              …Huh? This article is about Father Frank and the ruling. I work in the pro life movement as a volunteer, not that that’s any of your business. But I didn’t come here to discuss my pro life work or the ‘avoidance of abortion in my own back yard,’ I came here to celebrate a victory.

              Priests for Life has many branches in the family of ministries that makes up Priests for Life – and most of them are lay ministries.

          • Mark Shea

            Why do I even bother? Never mind. Goodbye.

      • Andy

        The Vatican said that Father Pavone was not suspended – it did not speak to the other concerns that Bp. Zurek had, nor did it release him from his need to remain in the diocese of Amarillo. Bp. Zurek is allowing him to be involved outside of AMarillo. Reading what the Vatican said seems to indicate that Bp. Zurek misused a word.
        The faith that people put in earthly beings to change the world by themselves is perhaps one of the most disheartening outcomes of this affair. No one person can end abortion, no one person is indispensable in this “battle”. Let us not put our faith in people of earth and rather put put it in our LOrd.

      • ivan_the_mad

        I just got word from the hospital. Literacy is in the ICU. It’s not looking good.

  • Golden88

    Mark Shea –

    Why do you insist that I hate the Bishop? Have I said anything hateful against the bishop? Just because one loves the fact that the Congregation ruled in favor of Father Pavone does NOT mean that I hate the bishop! I have been praying for the bishop every day since this incident started. You seem to be the hateful one, starting fires and egging people on.

    • Mark Shea

      Why do you insist that I hate the Bishop?
      Because you accuse him of trying to destroy Fr. Pavone’s work.

  • Bill

    Mark in no way is slandering Fr Pavone. He is just defending the bishop who is the lawful authority figure for the diocese.

  • Bill

    I’m with Mark here. This deification of Fr Pavone as noble as his cause is, is just too much. I’m glad he’s not suspended but I hope he stays obedient.

  • Tim Jones

    “What did the Congregation decree? That there was no foundation for the empty allegations and smearing that was slammed against Father Pavone, thereby ruining his reputation and hurting his ministry.”

    Umm… no, the Vatican ruling did no such thing. It did not touch on those matters, at all.

    • Mark Shea

      These people don’t seem to realize how every word they say simply demonstrates why the bishop was right to be concerned.

    • Kim

      Well, if the Vatican has been debating on this appeal from Father Frank for a while, then they must have addressed those matters, even if their public statement didn’t address them. I think it would have been wrong for them to address those matters publicly anyways – that wouldn’t make the Bishop look good, and we all must realize that we MUST love and respect the office that the Bishop carries. I think that looking back at all of the media slander against the Bishop, Father Pavone, and the Church last fall, they decided it would be prudent to keep everything on the down low this time – the Church and it’s clergy does not need any more bad media.

      I’m still ridiculously happy that Father Pavone is back! 🙂

  • FrMichael

    I couldn’t find the actual decree from Rome at the website. I am curious about what is still left unsaid here: the canonical issues over Fr. Pavone’s proposed religious order & seminary, the non-canonical nature of PFL, and allegations of financial sloppiness at PFL. IIRC that was what this mess was about, at least by those reading the tea leaves when this controversy began. If these three things are still unresolved, I don’t see this situation clearing up anytime soon. If Rome didn’t speak about this in the decree, where are we? A bishop’s sloppiness (“suspended from working outside the diocese”) is thankfully clarified, but the real difficulties remain.

  • Mark,

    You wrote:

    These people don’t seem to realize how every word they say simply demonstrates why the bishop was right to be concerned.

    This is simply one more example of what I see increasingly in our society the older I become. We live in a decreasingly literate, and decreasingly reasoned society. [sarcasm] Isn’t our system of public education doing an absolutely superb job of teaching our offspring to reason rigorously?[/sarcasm]

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  • XavierT

    A Victory for the Pro Life Movement! Thank God that Father Pavone is back!! His work in instrumental in protecting the unborn, and preserving the fact that all life is sacred from the moment of conception to natural death! Anyone can see that his work is good and holy! He fought for Terri Shiavo! He fought for Baby Joseph (and won!!) Love this man, and will always support his ministries!!

    • Ted Seeber

      Instrumental? NO. Instrumental is electing pro-life women leaders. Instrumental is providing alternative charity clinics so that women don’t have to depend on Planned Parenthood. Instrumental is feeding the poor so that they CAN afford that extra child.

      What Fr. Pavone has done is give a voice to the priests for pro-life and a lot of awareness work. That’s vital. That’s important. But it is NOT Instrumental.

  • Amy


    I hope that if Fr. Pavone ever reads threads like these he will be properly horrified by what some of his supporters say about him.

    • XavierT

      What is it that his supporters are saying that would make him horrified? Why can’t we be glad that such a great leader is freed from suspicions and was never suspended? Cripes.

      • Ted Seeber

        It isn’t that. It is the wording like Fr. Pavone is the coming of the new Messiah who will magically make Roe V. Wade disappear and all the local initiatives unnecessary. He’s not and nothing he does will help that.

    • Jmac

      Hahaha! Oh, you just can’t make stuff like this up.
      Mark Shea: “It’s dangerous to attach too much blind admiration at one person, especially when that leads to a Cult of Personality that is deaf to any rational critiques of this week’s folk hero. (ref. Corapi, Maciel, etc.)”

      This thread: “YOU CAN’T SAY THAT!!! When he arrives in glory with his chariots of fire, ungoodthinkers like you will be burned! BURNED! He is the ONLY man who can stop abortion, and disagreeing with anything he does makes you [person most out-of-line with current WASP values]”

      • Mark Shea

        Also, don’t forget that my *real* motivation is jealousy over… um, his… popularity. Yeah. That’s the ticket. Popularity. Of all the people in the world who are popular, I’ve decided to focus my jealous rage on Fr. Pavone because… um, there’s nothing more important to me than that *I* be the… um, King of Prolife Catholics. Yeah. That’s what’s really happening here.

        I’ve gotten that one a couple of times now. I was also informed that the real reason I criticized Corapi for defying his bishop was my jealousy of Corapi’s popularity and the number of convert scalps he’d racked up. It’s like people think we live on an elementary school playground and I’m pissed because I got picked last for dodgeball. Who thinks this way? Weird.

        • Jmac

          There’s a political attack ad in there somewhere.
          *Shows kids getting picked for dodgeball. One kid sits off to the side looking sad and eating paste*
          NARRATOR: “Mark Shea. The little fat kid that couldn’t. But he turned his sadness and general mediocrity to action, and began launching a cyber-attack at the very roots of our faith. Is this the man you want to listen to? This stupid, jealous fat kid? Did we mention he’s also a gay leftist?”

          • Mark Shea

            The irony is that I *like* Fr. Pavone. I think Fr. Pavone does fine work. I just think his bishop had a perfect right to tell him to put his priesthood first. I have no particular quarrel with Fr. Pavone. My real argument is with the crazies in comboxes who think his bishop is a devil bent on destroying the prolife movement who can’t get it through their thick heads that the bishop was and is right to insist that his priesthood come first. More of the well-nigh infallible knack for making the wrong call that Conservative Folk Hero worshippers keep demonstrating as the divide the world into Heros and Conspirators.

            • Jmac

              Troof. I know some people who work/worked with PFL and thought they were pretty good eggs. But man, there’s a particular strain of the Catholic branch of the Republican party who will turn into bad parodies of fundamentalists whenever one of their icons is questioned at all.

              I’m usually inclined to think statements like my last one are hyperbole, but hoo boy, this comment thread set me straight on that regard.

              • Mark Shea

                That’s because you are a jealous loser who burns with envy because you haven’t save as many babies. Because the prolife movement is all about racking up “most babies saved” on our score cards.

                Seriously. Who *thinks* that way?

                • Jmac

                  I’m so close too! Once I get 5 more babies, I can level up to 1st-rank pro-life adept! And then Pavone and his goons start grinding up baby saves and out-level me. I HATE THEM.