I believe that Fr Frank Pavone is a loyal son of the Catholic Church and that he knows and trusts that the Lord works through the Church. My main concern is that those who report on it going forward show love and respect for both Bishop Patrick J. Zurek of Amarillo and for Fr Frank Pavone. Too often a kind of "Catholic circular firing squad" grows up around such news. Unfortunately, this is increasing in the blogosphere.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (Catholic Online) - I have known Fr Frank Pavone for a very long time. He is one of my personal heroes because he is a champion of the great human rights movement of our age, the struggle to restore respect for the fundamental human right to life, at every age and stage. As the founder and National Director of Priests for Life he has changed history.
Over the years I have known Fr. Frank Pavone I have been moved by his love for the Lord and his love for the Church. So, I was disheartened to read in a Catholic News Service (CNS) Report entitled "Father Pavone suspended from ministry outside Amarillo Diocese" of the current turn of events regarding his leadership of Priests for Life.
I believe that Fr Frank Pavone is a loyal son of the Catholic Church and that he knows and trusts that the Lord works through the Church. I believe he will follow the direction of the Catholic Church as this matter unfolds. My main concern is that those who report on it going forward show love and respect for both Bishop Patrick J. Zurek of Amarillo and for Fr Frank Pavone.
Too often, over the years I have been involved in public ministry - as well as the practice of public interest law - I have seen a kind of "Catholic circular firing squad" grow up around such news. Unfortunately, this has been on the increase with the growth of the blogosphere.
So, in response to this news all that Catholic Online will do is present some important reminders from the Catholic Catechism concerning language. That will be followed by the official release from Priests for Life containing Fr. Frank's official statement.
The following admonitions from the Catechism of the Catholic Church should govern the coverage of this entire matter as it unfolds. We must follow the clear direction contained in the Catechism, found within "Life in Christ" and entitled "Offenses against Truth":
"Christ's disciples have "put on the new man, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. By "putting away falsehood," they are to "put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander."(#2475)
"Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty: - of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor; - of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them; - of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them."(#2477)
"Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity." (#2479)
Here is the official statement as received from Priests for Life
Official Statement of Fr Frank Pavone
"For the past several years, my Ordinary, the Most Reverend Patrick Zurek, Bishop of Amarillo, has given me permission to do the full-time pro-life work that I have done since 1993. In 2005, I made a public promise in a Church ceremony in Amarillo, presided over by a Vatican Cardinal, that this full-time pro-life work would be a lifetime commitment. That's a commitment I promise to fulfill without wavering.
"This past week, however, I received a letter from the Bishop insisting that I report to the Diocese this Tuesday, September 13 and, for the time being, remain only there.
"I am very perplexed by this demand. Despite that, because I am a priest of the diocese of Amarillo, I will be obedient and report there on the appointed date, putting the other commitments that are on my calendar on hold until I get more clarity as to what the bishop wants and for how long.
"Meanwhile, I continue to retain all my priestly faculties and continue to be a priest in "good standing" in the Church. The bishop does not dispute this fact. Rather, he has said that he thinks I am giving too much priority to my pro-life work, and that this makes me disobedient to him. He also has claimed that I haven't given him enough financial information.
"Now, although Bishop Zurek is my Ordinary, he is not the bishop of Priests for Life. Each of our staff priests has his own Ordinary, and the organization has an entire Board of Bishops. We keep them all informed of our activities, and of our financial audits.
"I want to say very clearly that Priests for Life is above reproach in its financial management and the stewardship of the monies it receives from dedicated pro-lifers, raised primarily through direct mail at the grassroots level. To this end, Priests for Life has consistently provided every financial document requested by Bishop Zurek, including annual financial audits, quarterly reports, management documents-even entire check registers!
"In fact, on June 20, 2011, Priests for Life received the results of its independent audit examination for the year ended December 31, 2010. The organization's auditors issued an unqualified audit opinion indicating that the financial statements "present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Priests for Life, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America". This marks the tenth consecutive year that the organization's auditors have provided a 'clean' audit opinion, when reporting on the respective year's financial statements.
"Priests for Life has been completely transparent with Bishop Zurek and any other bishops who have requested information regarding our management and finances. Indeed, we have 21 bishops and cardinals who sit on our Advisory Board, and they are kept fully informed about our finances.
"Therefore, in the interest of preserving my good reputation as well as protecting the valuable work done by the Priests for Life organization, I have begun a process of appeal to the Vatican. This process aims to correct any mistaken decisions of the bishop in my regard and to protect my commitment to full-time pro-life activity for my whole life.
"We are very confident that the Vatican will resolve this matter in a just and equitable fashion. Because of this confidence, we are not currently making any changes in any positions at Priests for Life, or in any of our projects and plans.
"I also want to point out that, according to the canon law of the Catholic Church, because I have begun this process of appeal to Rome, the Bishop's order that I return to Amarillo has been effectively suspended. Nevertheless, because of my great respect for this Bishop and my commitment to be fully obedient at all times, I am reporting to Amarillo this Tuesday, in hopes that I can sort this problem out with the Bishop in a mutually agreeable and amicable way.
"I would like to note that, unlike other organizations, which have sometimes been critical of the Church hierarchy or other institutions within the Church, Priests for Life has always remained 100% supportive of the Bishops, never criticizing any Church official, and always acting as a megaphone for the Bishops' pro-life statements.
"Moreover, we serve dioceses and their priests and laity without asking for any speakers' fees, and distribute millions of pieces of pro-life literature to dioceses completely free of charge. We do not seek parish collections, and we work to reinforce in each diocese the local pastoral plan which the bishop wants to implement for pro-life activities. We are committed to going forward with that same spirit, regardless of the recent action taken by Bishop Zurek.
"In the interest of full transparency, I would like to make it known that I do not receive any salary or financial remuneration from either the Diocese of Amarillo or from Priests for Life. Priests for Life, as a Private Association of the Christian Faithful, does provide for my residence and the expenses associated with the ministry, but these expenses are very small. Though, as a diocesan priest, I have never taken a vow of poverty, I have basically chosen to live in that fashion in solidarity with the pre-born children we are trying to protect-who are the poorest of the poor.
"I want to be clear that I do not harbor any ill will towards the Bishop of Amarillo, nor do I foster suspicions about his motives. I am merely confused by his actions. It is impossible for me to believe that there is no place in the Church for priests to exercise full-time ministry in the service of the unborn. We do it for the sick, the poor, the hungry, and the imprisoned. But where in the Church is the place where a priest can exercise the same kind of full-time ministry for the children in the womb? That is the question that is at the heart of my own calling.
"I am confident that we will be able to resolve this difficulty soon, without any harm to either my own reputation and without any slowdown of the valuable pro-life work we do at Priests for Life."
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