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Diocese of Amarillo backing off claims against Pavone? September 16, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, foolishness, General Catholic, North Deanery, priests, sadness, scandals.

When Bishop Zurek sent his letter to all the other bishops of the US, he accused Fr. Pavone of the below:

“… deep concerns regarding his stewardship of the finances of… PFL…”

“These financial questions and concerns have persisted with no clear and adequate answers…”

“I have reasons to be alarmed at the potential financial scandal…”

“… incorrigible defiance to my legitimate authority…”

“…rebuff my every attempt at calling for financial transparency…”

“Father Pavone has gradually lost his need to show appropriate obedience to his Bishop…”

“… his fame has caused him to see priestly obedience as an inconvenience to his unique status…”

“… the supreme importance that he has attributed to his PFL ministry and the reductionist attitude toward the diocesan priesthood has inflated his ego with a sense of self-importance and self-determination…”

Late yesterday, the Diocese of Amarillo (not Bishop Zurek, who timed a 2+ week vacation with the date of the recall of Fr. Pavone and the release of this explosively inflammatory letter, had another press release that claimed that there were no allegations of financial impropriety and that Fr. Pavone remains in good standing:

Compare and contrast.  Bishop Zurek’s letter strongly implies that Fr. Pavone and Priests for Life were run amock and likely living high on donations pilfered from naive Catholics.  Now, those claims are being dropped, and in substitution there is only a claim that there are questions about the auditing process.

In Bishop Zurek’s original letter sent out on September 6 – sent out without notifying Fr. Pavone or Priest’s for Life, which Fr. Pavone only found out after the letter had been leaked (by whom – these inter-bishop communiques are intended to be extremely private – it had to be someone at USCCB, in Amarillo, or another bishopric) – not only did Zurek make the inflammatory claims noted above, but he recommended tohis brother bishops that they tell the people of their dioceses not to support Priests for Life.  Such a course of action, if taken, would have likely resulted in extreme damage to, if not the destruction of, Priests for Life. 

Making such a recommendation when there were merely questions over an auditing process, or a feeling that Fr. Pavone was perhaps not being sufficiently humble or obedient seems extremely imprudent, even unjust.  The data released thus far, and now apparently confirmed by the Amarillo Diocese, indicate the Fr. Pavone has complied with all, or virtually all, of the requests Bishop Zurek has made.  Perhaps there are a few details or some clarifications that need to be made, and perhaps Pavone has not sufficiently expressed obeisance to Bishop Zurek, but for this you destroy a very successful and effective ministry? 

Priest’s for Life is a private association of the faithful – as such, the bishops have the lowest degree of control over it.  That does not mean no control, but it means they don’t have a great deal, and are limited in oversight.  Perhaps there was some disagreement over how much oversight was appropriate, but the Diocese of Amarillo say this entire issue now hinges on an auditing process.  Such is surely important, but does it merit rhetoric like “deep concern of the stewardship of finances” and “incorrigible defiance to my authority?”  Fr. Pavone has stated he was blindsided by this letter that really trashed his character and his apostolate – he only found out due to it’s being leaked.  Did Bishop Zurek plan to ever tell PFL that he had sent this letter which could have obliterated his apostolate?  Is the Diocese of Amarillo, and, hence, Bishop Zurek, going to formally retract the claim of “potential financial scandal?”  What about the claims of “incorrigible defiance” and “rebuff my every attempt at calling for financial transperancy,” when it appears the data had been sent, repeatedly?

I almost wonder if this wasn’t some massive screw up at the Diocese of Amarillo – if the data being demanded was being sent all along, but someone was not communicating that to Bishop Zurek, making him think Fr. Pavone was non-compliant?  

Jill Stanek thinks Zurek blundered colossally.  The sudden turn-around in rhetoric makes it appear that, at the very least, the Diocese of Amarillo is substantially less sure of its claims than it was a 10 day sago when Bishop Zurek sent that letter to all the bishops of the United States.

What a mess. And satan laughed gleefully.


1. Magdalene - September 16, 2011

And after leveling these devasting, and perhaps calumniating, charges against the priest who has given of himself 24/7 to the pro-life cause, the bishop cuts and runs off to a long vacation out of the country??? Cowardly at least as he leaves others to pick up the pieces of what he has done.

And why did he not privately recall Fr. Pavone? Why announce it to ALL the bishops and then have it go viral on the internet in such a way so as to detract and perhaps destroy the apostolate? Uncharitable is too kind a word for this action.

And what other bishop is going to want to incardinate Fr. Pavone? He would incur the wrath of most of the other bishops! Sending these charges out like B. Zurek did was to insure that no other bishop would accept Fr. Pavone.

And lets see…what else is happening in Texas? Oh, yes a ‘Catholic’ hospital chain is now going to dispense the abortifacient Plan B. Look what happened while we were looking the other way. Any bishops going to rise to the occasion? Is there one with the courage of an Olmstead in Texas? Not the bishop of Amarillo for sure.

2. Tim Hughes - September 16, 2011

As usual, this is obviously about politics and the good bishop has stuck his foot in it. Welcome back from vacation, Bishop Zurek.

3. tjp - September 16, 2011

That Bishop Zurek would take a vacation during the turmoil that he started, impugning the reputation and life work of a fellow priest, while discrediting one of the most visible pro-life organizations, fighting a battle that he has largely ignored, effectively dumping this national controversy into the lap of his staff, is disgraceful. And, it’s right out of the Obama playbook.

4. Joan - September 16, 2011

NOTHING LESS is acceptable than a full, written apology to Pavone from Zurek, with COPIES TO ALL THE BISHOPS affirming PFL is OK!!!

5. Mike G - September 16, 2011

The bishop isn’t backing off anything. He never accused Pavone of misusing his funds, he said Pavone refused to show him his books after being ordered to do so. The bishop also never said or implied that Pavone was not in good standing. The premise of your article is completely wrong. Pavone needs to check his arrogance and disobedience at the door and obey his bishop, who has asked nothing unreasonable of Pavone. Why not show the bishop the books if there is nothing to hide, instead of saying he will find another diocese?

6. Bill Russell - September 17, 2011

When Cardinal Egan assigned Father Pavone to a parish in Staten Island, New York, Fr.Pavone demurred, in violation of his ordination vows of obediene to his bishop, and stirred up a petition. Cardinal Egan relented and allowed Pavone to incardinate elsewhere. In retrospect, this was a mistake made by Cardinal Egan, albeit to prevent further scandal Fr. Pavone spent a brief time in Rome doing pro-Life work , but it would seem that personality differences there led to his return to the US where he attempted to form a religious society (with ambiguous commitment to a vow of poverty) which was rejected by the Vatican. Evidently, Father Pavone does not work well as a man under authority. There can only be one bishop of a diocese at a time, and only one Pope. There is only one Prima Donna in the Catholic Church – our Blessed Lady – and priest are no substitute.
September 16, 2011 8:17 PM

7. Byzcat - September 17, 2011

I suspect that this letter from the Bishop to his brother Bishops was penned by a subordinate with a dislike for Father Pavone and, perhaps, an opposition to the Prolife movement. If it was penned by the Bishop, then it reflects very badly on him. The apostasy continues.

8. Bill Russell - September 17, 2011

Mark Shea

Puedo means “I can” or “I am able” in Spanish. I’m not sure what a puedo intellectual is, but I am sure that Jasper ably represents the bizarre paranoia that infects the “Brave Folk Hero vs. Evil Modernist Bishop” conspiracy mindset that has served guys like him so well in tackling questions like the guilt or innocence of Maciel, Euteneuer and Corapi. Always, always, always assume that in questions involving factual, verifiable questions concerning your Favorite Folk Hero, the issue is not the facts, but a Vast Shadowy Conspiracy of Bishops to destroy the Catholic faith. For added measure, persuade yourself that some fat guy with a website is able to somehow persuade millions of American Catholics to ignore the Vast Conspiracy that you see with perfect clarity, despite the total lack of evidence. Never address the question of whether the bishop might have reason for his concerns. Always assume the worst and always assume a conspiratorial malicious bishop, no matter what.

9. bona - September 17, 2011

Bishop Zurek: An apology is most certainly due to Father Pavone and the pro-life movement. I, for one, also believe your resignaton should take place after your WELL-TIMED two-week vacation .

10. Cló Mhuire - September 18, 2011

It would be good to see a new director for PFL. There are so many good priests with true leadership qualities who do great pro-life work. Fr. Pavone’s behaviour only confirms the desperate need to be in control. we see a lot of that today, but why is the question? Instead of ‘me, myself, I’, this priest should be saying – “So be it, Lord. You can work through this in whatever way you will.”

11. lwestin - September 18, 2011

Keep in mind that the letter, regrettable as it seems to be, may have been ‘leaked’ by someone seeking to help Fr. Pavone.

It sounds like Bishop Zurek was overdue for his vacation.

tantamergo - September 19, 2011

That is a possibility. Although, I tend to discount that, I think Pavone has been genuinely shocked at this situation.

I’m amazed at the sides being taken – I think the Bishop’s language was virtually unheard of from a bishop, especially in writing to his peers, but he’s fully in his power to require Pavone to remain in the Diocese and only serve there. But the bashing of Pavone is interesting – he’s so mild mannered, I don’t know why some are so angry with him – I think it’s a hangover from Corapi. Alot of people suffered through that entire situation, and many did their best to not believe he could so disappoint them. Now, all priests in public roles are suspect. It’s an over-reaction.

12. Therese - September 19, 2011

I see your friend Steve Kellmeyer has gone to town against Fr. Pavone – calling him a “money grubbing worm.”

What do you have to say about that?

tantamergo - September 19, 2011

I have to disagree with Steve, here. I’m afraid that he’s got a blind spot when it comes to EWTN personalities due to some past history. As I said in my first post on the subject, I’ve been turned off by Priest’s For Life constant claims of “red ink” and dire need of new donations. But many charities are like that, especially in today’s climate. Having said that, all indications are that Fr. Pavone is nothing like Corapi in terms of high living – he reportedly lives in a closet, essentially, and is totally dedicated to pro-life work. Whether he has issues with obedience, I don’t know (it’s possible, but he claims to have met all the requests of his bishop faithfully), but I do feel that an disagreement over degrees of obedience seems a slim reason for a bishop to request the destruction of a successful apostolate, which is what Zurek’s request would have meant had it been followed up on.

The bishop used incredibly strong, over the top words. That language greatly weakens his case – it makes it appear that he was acting out of anger, and not reason. Perhaps there is a genuine concern there about the accounting practices of Priests for Life and whether Pavone is letting his apostolate go to his head, but I don’t think there is much justification for either the level of vitriol seen in the letter nor for the requested destruction of PFL. I think Bishop Zurek acted without prudence in sending it, and possibly even unjustly. The evidence does not indicate that Pavone has done anything so egregious as to deserve that kind of attack.

13. eternalu - September 20, 2011

The heart of the Fr. Pavone story is so obvious that we are all missing it. Politics. No, not Church Politics, National Politics. In 2008, Fr. Pavone was outspokenly anti-Obama. In 2010, Fr. Pavone paticipated in the protest against Obama speaking at Notre Dame University. The Presidential election is next year. Right now, Obama’s poll numbers keep sinking. Obama needs every vote he can get to get re-elected. So how does this look to Obama and his people? Fr. Pavone needs to be taken out. This is National Politics, Chicago-Style. Where does Bishop Zurek come in? According to Huffington Post columnist Father Alberto Cutie (Episcopalian), Sept. 19: “His bishop in Amarillo is certainly much more progressive than he is, so there could be some ideological clashes there…” Okay, do these “ideological clashes” translate into the Bishop’s Democratic associations? Those associations include a relationship with former Mayor of San Antonio, Ed Garza. Garza appointed Bishop Zurek to serve on his Committee on Integrity and Trust in Local Government for the city of San Antonio. Ed Garza, sharing the Democratic leanings of other Hispanics in Texas, endorsed Obama in 2008, saying: “Senator Obama’s unique ability to bring people together and bridge partisan divides make him the best candidate to bring change we can believe in.” I don’t want to suggest that Bishop Zurek himself is being a party to a ‘dirty tricks campaign’ against Fr. Frank Pavone, but the possibility exists that circumstances around the Bishop have been manipulated, with an agenda in mind.

Mary - September 20, 2011

This is an interesting take, eternalu, and maybe not far from the truth. There are many priests (bishops included) who are democrats…
He was obviously trying to destroy Fr Pavone’s reputation and that of Priests for Life (as is the bishop in Spokane trying to reduce the pro-life efforts and public visibility).

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