Tag Archives: bishop Zurek

Vatican clears Father Pavone’s name but leaves him with his accuser

UPDATE 6/29, 11:21a: My friend within six degrees of separation of this controversy reminded me last night that the Vatican would not have declared Father Pavone unsuspended and a priest in good standing had it not examined Priest for Life’s financial records for itself. After all, this was the foremost reason Bishop Zurek gave for his suspension. I agree that the Vatican would take absolutely no chance of having its withdrawal of suspension come back to embarrass it, especially in this day and age of priest scandals. So I have removed “(sort of)” from my headline. I think the Vatican indeed exonerated FP by its nod in his favor.

My friend said his first take was that the Vatican’s clearance opens the door for Father Pavone to pursue incarnation in a pro-life friendly diocese.

6/28, 12:01p: On Tuesday night came good news on Priests for Life’s website:

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.

From the onset we have been closely following the curious situation between Priest for Life’s Father Frank Pavone and his bishop, Patrick Zurek, of the Amarillo Diocese.

Last September Bishop Zurek abruptly ordered Father Pavone to report back to his diocese from New York, on the heels of a letter the bishop sent to his colleagues (subsequently leaked to the press) all but accusing FP of insubordination and mishandling of PFL funds, beginning with the apocalyptic sentence, “I have decided to suspend Father Frank A. Pavone from public ministry….”

Now the Vatican has overruled Bishop Zurek. Father Pavone was not suspended.

But as CatholicCulture.org (read that entire editorial – it’s good) points out:

[A]nyone familiar with canon law knew from the outset that “suspension” was the wrong term for the bishop’s action. As canonist Edward Peters explained last September, Bishop Zurek “should not have used the term ‘suspend’ in regard to Pavone, for ‘suspension’ is a canonical penalty for crime (c. 1333), and Pavone has not been accused of any crime.”

So the Vatican agrees.

But Father Pavone has not been reassigned to an unhostile bishop or perhaps to answer directly to Rome.

Thus, questions remain. Perhaps Bishop Zurek can’t “suspend” FP, but can he still curtail his activities, or worse, ban him from working with PFL? It appears so. Here was Bishop Zurek’s statement on the Vatican’s decision:

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.

Yes, that convoluted statement has to be read several times to understand. Bottom line: Father Pavone isn’t suspended but remains assigned as a chaplain to a tiny convent in the middle of the desert. And Bishop Zurek can call him back there for full time duty per his whim, when his sense of “good will” toward Father Pavone’s pro-life activities ceases and he is overcome by bad will.

And Bishop Zurek’s “good will” comes with a very short rope. Father Pavone must get his permission before doing any pro-life work. Bishop Zurek will decide whether each bit of pro-life work Father Pavone wants to do has “merit.”

The Amarillo Globe-News further quotes Bishop Zurek as stating the Vatican’s decision “makes it clear I am free to restore him to full religious ministry, if I wish. … But he must have my permission for anything in regard to work in pro-life, and in particular Priests for Life, because that is where the issue arose to begin with.”

So aside from maintaining the show of a pretty big ego. Bishop Zurek has purposefully left hanging his accusation that Father Pavone may have mismanaged PFL’s finances, which is inexcusable.

Father Pavone begins fourth month in exile

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.)

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New Stanek poll: Which would be the more persuasive pro-life Super Bowl ad, graphic or nongraphic?

Poll 2.pngI have a new poll question up:

Which type of pro-life Super Bowl television ad would be more persuasive, in your opinion?

There are 2 options listed: “Graphic” and “Nongraphic.”

Vote on the lower right side of the home page.

Here were the results of my previous poll about Father Pavone and Bishop Zurek, not what I expected, particularly of the Protestants and secularists. There was a large turnout…

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Bishop Zurek ignores plea to let Father Pavone speak at International Pro-Life Youth Conference

No one questions whether Bishop Patrick Zurek had the authority to place Father Frank Pavone on forced hiatus.

Good people do question whether the bishop’s decision was warranted.

That dispute aside, the bishop certainly must have realized that to abruptly and without warning bar Father Pavone from fulfilling his pro-life speaking obligations for an undefined period would create havoc among churches and pro-life groups planning and publicizing those events.

It seems to me a compassionate spiritual leader would attempt to mitigate the damage his decision caused to innocent bystanders.

One important event caught in the crossfire was the International Pro-Life Youth Conference, scheduled for this weekend, November 11-13, in Los Angeles.

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New Stanek poll: What are your thoughts on the situation between Bishop Zurek and Father Pavone?

Poll 2.pngI have a new poll question up:

Regarding the situation between Bishop Patrick Zurek and Father Frank Pavone, which also involves Priests for Life, complete the following sentence: “The evidence I have seen leads me to think…”

There are 10 options listed, three for Catholics, three for Protestants, three for secularists, and one for all.

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Bishop Zurek misleads?

Read backstory here.

This fiasco left off with Bishop Patrick Zurek (pictured right) publicly announcing on October 6 a private meeting he had invited Father Frank Pavone to attend on October 13.

When that meeting did not happen, Bishop Zurek appears to have misrepresented why it did not happen, quoting Amarillo Globe-News on October 14…

Embattled activist priest Frank Pavone did not respond to Bishop Patrick J. Zurek’s public invitation for a private meeting Thursday, the bishop said….

But by 5 p.m. Thursday – closing time at the diocese offices – Pavone had yet to appear.

“I would welcome a meeting with Father Pavone, face to face, a meeting as his bishop,” Zurek said. “I am still waiting for a favorable response to that.”

In fact, Father Pavone did respond, requesting – with good reason – that a mediator be present at that meeting, and Bishop Zurek never responded to Father Pavone’s request.

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Letter from Diocese of Amarillo exonerates Father Pavone

7:34p: Priests for Life has issued a statement entitled, “Diocese of Amarillo Issues Clarification Affirming Fr. Frank Pavone’s Good Standing and Character,” in conjunction with the letter below.

7:15p: A friend told me I’d soon eat the “I’ve got to move on” words in my previous post, because the Father Pavone issue is exploding.

But I didn’t know it would be so quickly.

The Diocese of Amarillo has released a letter attempting to exonerate Father Pavone of financial malfeasance and character flaws unbecoming a priest. Click to enlarge…

I’m thinking Monsignor Waldow is probably pretty ticked right about now at Bishop Zurek for conveniently timing the drop of his bombshell letter to the bishops with his vacation.

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Scuffle Escalates II: “Free Fr. Pavone!” and planes incoming

I’ve got to move on to other pro-life topics after this post but have several bullets of interest on the Pavone/Zurek scuffle…

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