Yesterday I checked in with Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life on the occasion of an auspicious anniversary.

It was three months ago that Father Pavone’s bishop, Patrick Zurek, abruptly ordered him to halt his pro-life work and report back to the Diocese of Amarillo for an unspecified length of time.

Since September 13 Father Pavone has been assigned to the small and isolated Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ convent in Prayer Town, Texas, 50 miles outside of Amarillo. (Dirt road to convent pictured below.)

Bishop Zurek has given Father Pavone no other priestly work to do other than serve the 29 sisters with homilies and teaching (which he is doing with gusto – they are now planning a pro-life seminar, he tells me).

There has been no contact between the two since Bishop Zurek refused to agree to allow a mediator to be present at the private October 13 meeting he publicly announced in advance.

Father Pavone tells me both are now awaiting a decision from the Vatican, which he anticipates “soon,” on whether he can resume his pro-life work.

Father Pavone remains in good spirits. He told me he enjoys the company of pro-lifers who come by when traveling in the area. He videotaped an update from Prayer Town on December 8:


Points of value in the ongoing dispute, particularly in the aftermath of innuendo Bishop Zurek leveled against Father Pavone in a September 9 letter to all U.S. bishops:

  • Father Pavone is and has been uninterruptedly a priest in good standing in his diocese and in the Catholic Church.
  • Father Pavone has never been or is he now being accused of any wrongdoing, nor are any of those who work for him being accused.
  • Father Pavone has been and remains obedient to his bishop and doing what he has asked him to do. He continues his work in pro-life leadership overseeing the various ministries he heads from Amarillo.
  • Priests for Life and Father Pavone are using only appropriate means, approved by the Church, to address and resolve this situation. Appealing to the Vatican is not an act of rebellion, but rather a protocol provided by Church law itself to resolve disputes. What they are asking is simple: that priests like Father Pavone who want to devote their lives to defending the unborn be allowed to do so.
  • Priests for Life is and always has been an approved Association of the Faithful under the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, and enjoys the support of bishops and Cardinals around the world, including the 20 bishops and Cardinals who comprise its Advisory Board, which recently met to reaffirm the work of the ministry.
  • Father Pavone continues to enjoy the unanimous support of his Board of Directors and Pastoral Team.

Meanwhile, as I said, the work of Priests for Life continues on. Here are 2012 goals:

  • Bryan Kemper as PFL’s Youth Outreach director will be coordinating a youth rally in conjunction with the March for Life. This year, he will be expanding his presence in Catholic schools across the nation. The Pro-life Day of Silent Solidarity will be repeated, and monthly events will also be planned that mobilize youth worldwide in joint activities.
  • The Silent No More Awareness Campaign is gearing up for the largest gathering of women and men who speak out about their abortion experiences; they will be at the March for Life in DC and the Walk for Life in San Francisco. Pregnancy centers and Churches are also partnering with the campaign, that is, committing to do their part in spreading the powerful testimonies of pain and healing.
  • Priests for Life is activating its action center, and mobilizing the “Vote Pro-life Coalition” for the elections of 2012. Voter Registration Sundays have been designated and Churches will be urged to take part.
  • Alveda King will be expanding her African-American Outreach with events targeted to Black leaders who will be able to bring more people out to pro-life events such as rallies at abortion mills, educational events, and media opportunities.
  • Rachel’s Vineyard will expand its interdenominational outreach. There are close to 1,000 retreats a year now; most of them are in a Catholic setting, but Fr. Frank, Theresa, and Kevin Burke will expand the training and outreach to interdenominational pastors even more than it is now.


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