June 28, 2012
It’s time to accept what may simply be God’s will for Father Frank and the pro-life effort
On Tuesday Priests For Life announced that the Vatican has upheld Father Frank Pavone’s appeal on his “suspension” by Bishop Patrick Zurek last September. But what does this “vindication” really mean in terms of Father Frank’s return to his ministry at Priests For Life? Nothing.
Because the Vatican Congregation For The Clergy simply affirmed that Father Frank Pavone is a priest in good standing anywhere in the world and can administer the Sacraments. This finding was a foregone conclusion. As every Canon lawyer questioned on the case had opined, Bishop Zurek’s use of the term “suspension” was misapplied.
The Vatican’s pointed silence on Father Frank’s return to Priests For Life, however, was deafening. And on that question, Bishop Zurek clearly feels the Vatican has vindicated him, and we dare say the Bishop is right.
So as hard as it is to accept, and as unjust as it may seem, it may simply be that God has determined that it is time for Father Frank Pavone to move on from Priests For Life.
That said, Bishop Zurek’s original allegations of financial improprieties at Priests For Life, which were purported to be the basis for Father Frank’s recall to the Diocese Of Amarillo, TX, seem to have vanished in the wind. No evidence was ever offered, and Priests For Life quickly tendered 10 years of independent audits certifying Father Frank’s stewardship.
No mention of that original issue of financial malfeasance was made in Bishop Zurek’s latest statement on Father Frank which seemed to imply that the whole mess has simply been a matter of affirming the Bishop’s authority to assign his priests where he deems fit.
The Vatican’s finding, Bishop Zurek stated, “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.”
But what about the allegations? What about Father Frank’s reputation? What about the cloud that the unsubstantiated charges have left in the minds of potential donors to Priests For Life?
These questions seem likely to remain unjustly unaddressed, and Father Frank Pavone remains officially assigned as the Chaplain of the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, a small convent in Channing, TX. At Bishop Zurek’s discretion, Father Frank will be permitted to participate in certain pro-life events, and Father Frank was allowed to attend this week’s National Right To Life Convention in Washington, DC.
We are as unhappy about this turn of events as anyone. But obedience is the essence of the religious life, and Father Frank has conducted himself admirably in rendering obedience to his Bishop, discouraging protests, and trying to settle whatever problems may exist privately. He will surely continue to do so.
Now we in the pro-life community have accept these circumstances with the same degree of grace. Catholics especially have to reflect upon the fact that the question of Bishop Zurek’s recall of Father Frank likely reached Pope Benedict himself, and the Holy Father has chosen not to intervene.
We do not know all of the facts, and we cannot fathom the degree to which God’s hand has directed the course of events. It may simply be that it has been determined that even Father Frank cannot sustain the workload he has maintained since assuming the directorship of Priests For Life in 1993. How many years of 80+ hour weeks can anyone handle?
God may have deemed it time for Father Frank to decrease and for others to increase, to assume greater roles and shoulder more of the burden in the struggle to end abortion – not just within Priests For Life, but throughout the pro-life community.
We can best honor Father Frank by supporting Priests For Life financially and doing our best to intensify our individual efforts in working to end abortion in our nation.
Suddenly there is a tremendous amount slack that needs to be taken up simply to compensate for the efforts of one good man whom God has chosen to redirect.
Continue to pray for Father Frank, but then let’s get to it. Millions of lives hang in the balance.
Category: Father Frank Pavone