30 December 2022

The Pavone Debacle

OMM draws the distinction that we should all keep in mind, that there is a difference between what is legal and what is moral and just. Francis had the legal power to laicise Fr Pavone, but not the moral authority.

From One Mad Mom

Well, it’s been a miserable few weeks in the Catholic prolife world, and weighing in while I’m angry, haven’t done the research, etc., like many, seemed like a poor choice. After dealing with almost two weeks of daily queries for my opinion from people on the internet, as well as family and friends, I decided the Feast of the Holy Innocents was a perfect day to finally put fingers to keyboard.

I am a huge Pastor Aeternus fan, so when the whole thing dropped about the laicization of “the prolifer formerly known as Fr. Pavone” (yes, that’s about how ridiculous this punishment is), I decided to wait to see the many expected interviews he’d do and he did not disappoint.

I’ve known him for years now, although I have not shared this persona with him. Ironically, one of my first encounters with him was at (surprise!) a prolife event on the heels of the weirdness that was going on with Fr. Corapi and the tragic story of Fr. Euteneuer. Me being me, I walked up to him and said, “It’s wonderful to see you, and if you could not let us down, I’d really appreciate it.” I doubt he remembers that, but he knew exactly what I was talking about and we talked about it. It was a mere few months later that the then-Fr. Pavone (I’m going to use that title whenever I can!) got a time out in Amarillo, and he dutifully obeyed. I remember thinking then that I was so happy he obeyed. Did Bishop Zurek have the canonical authority to do it? Yup. Was it somehow disobedient for the then-Fr. Pavone to appeal to a higher authority? Of course not. Appealing does not equal disobedience. It’s his canonical right, even if said bishop doesn’t like someone going over his head. Neither is it disobedient to seek a transfer and take it if it’s allowed. And here’s the big question: Is a legal and lawful act always right and just? NOPE!

In my opinion (and one I am, as a faithful Catholic, allowed to have), the moves to remove Fr. Pavone from prolife ministry and the priesthood have been a nightmare in reason and charity (mostly against the unborn) and bungled beyond belief. And, laicizing, yes, the Holy Father totally can do that, but that doesn’t make it right or just.

Every bishop in the United States and around the world should have been helping the then-Fr. Pavone in his ministry for those many years. I think even the most faithful of bishops recognize that they haven’t done, nor could they do, the work of Fr. Pavone and the Priests for Life organization. Most of the diocesan prolife ministries are sorely lacking due to manpower, money, and in some dioceses, bishops. Why? Most have been financially wrecked due to the abuse scandal. And, of course, some just throw out platitudes with no action when it comes to the unborn. Sad and pathetic, but facts. They could have had Fr. Pavone going to bat for all of them. The man works tirelessly. On many occasions, I’ve seen him finish a day-long event in one state, only to hop a red-eye to be at another one the next day, yet he never seemed to lose his energy. I get tired just watching him. He has saved more prolife organizations around the country from completely dying, and he’s funded projects for many others. The less than concrete and seemingly anonymous accusation about financial mismanagement is a joke. He’s a whiz at making money, and when we’re at the same events, he’s most often at the exact same cheap hotel I’m at – definitely not the Ritz. The guy doesn’t even flip for an awesome haircut. (Sorry, but it’s true).

Again, the formerly titled Fr. Pavone has saved more prolife organizations than I’ve seen anyone else do. Yes, he brings in tons of money and he’s definitely good at his job. Being able to bring in money like nobody else in the prolife world doesn’t mean that he’s redoing his palatial estate, unlike some of our cardinals. As I’ve said, he’s doing a lot of funding for groups around the country. I’ve worked with a few of them.

And speaking of money, +Pierre’s missive (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/23466013-pavone-letter) notes that Priests for Life is not a Catholic organization. If the church hierarchy believes that, how in the world did Bishop Zurek ever think that he had any right to request that Priests for Life have yet another audit done by somebody Bishop Zurek chose? And how was it disobedient for the board to tell him no? Priests for Life had their books audited annually by an independent auditing company. Do you know that auditing agencies can be named in lawsuits and are? The “well, Fr. Pavone just picked someone who would agree with him to do the audit” argument is a little naïve. Would that each diocese in the country do this. How about each bishop? I mean, seriously, can there be more hypocrisy. Many of the dioceses around the country are looking like a business run by Sam Bankman-Fried and year after year Pavone brings in millions and the organization isn’t bankrupt.

You know what else he does? He buries victims of abortions. How many priests and bishops have done that? Honestly, it should be a requirement. I guarantee that the vast majority of priests and bishops have never had to hold a victim of abortion. THAT CHANGES YOU FOREVER. As a prolife mom with prolife children, I cannot tell you how much it pains me that this is still going on. One of my own children has found a discarded child, too. Abortion is no longer just a word to any of us after this experience. It’s not an abstract notion, it’s vividly real. Maybe if bishops and priests had this experience, they would finally make abortion the pre-eminent issue the majority of them have said it is. To those who want to “change the language” on that, you are, well, evil, or at least hugely misguided. The idea that the then-Fr. Pavone was disrespecting the baby he displayed is ridiculous. That’s probably THE most respect that child has gotten. I’ve tried to put myself in that child’s shoes. If my life was cut short in such a heinous way, would I have wanted the then-Fr. Frank to show what happened to me? You bet. Do you really think that child would have said “Just bury me quietly so nobody ever hears about me?” We are a Church founded in a VERY graphic example of a crime committed against Our Lord. We haven’t sterilized the Crucifix to a Cross. We memorialize the graphic because it is Truth.

So, do I agree with Frank Pavone (the name he’s dutifully adopted due to the decree) on every act he makes? No. Do I agree with anyone all the time? Heck no. That said, I have no doubt he’s doing what he thinks God wants him to do, which is to fight with every ounce of his being for the unborn. For those of you who are mumbling “You can’t do good by doing evil” under your breath, you really need to show us the evil, supposed disobedience, etc., etc., etc. We’ve definitely heard the accusations, yet only one person is showing his cards.

To his credit, the “the prolifer formerly known as Fr. Frank Pavone” has admitted and repented of   a few things. He loses his temper (and again, when you hold a victim of abortion, let me know how well you keep it together all the time). He can sometimes make moves he regrets. However, he’s following Pastor Aeternus to a “t”. He has said that the Holy Father is his final appeal, and if the decision isn’t overturned by him or the next pope, he will go on being Mr. Pavone.




What would have happened if the bishops had just stopped and considered what Fr. Pavone was telling them? He was doing many things the regular parish priest isn’t doing. First, he was saving babies from the abortion mills. Next, he was helping other priests educate their flock. He was changing hearts and minds. He was helping women heal from their abortions. He was burying victims of abortion – something the average priest will never do. He was making many, many converts to the Faith – some who I know and for which I am thankful. He was uniting the prolife world – Catholic and Protestant – which is why I was even getting outraged texts from my Protestant friends. He was helping destroy Roe vs. Wade.  Wasn’t there a need for a priest to do all these things?! Were those things just an extreme waste of time? Should the bishops have said “Wow, Fr. Frank, you are doing some wonderfully Catholic things that very few have achieved! I really need more guys like you and I’d be taking you away from a ministry that really needs to be done and you are doing it better than anyone else.”?  I think yes. “I don’t care. I’d like you here.” was a lawful command, but it certainly wasn’t charitable to the unborn, the women hurt by abortion, the many converts that may have never been made, and the future children who will live because he was dedicated to the unborn. So, if you are one of those Catholics cheering on this laicization, you should also keep this in mind and match your track record to his. Remember, we are talking about the killing of children and great harm done to their mothers. Seems like that’s completely been lost in the discussion for some.

To people of goodwill, please continue to pray for him and maybe add a few extra prayers since news just broke that his father has now passed away.

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