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Pavone a no-show for meeting with bishop – UPDATED October 14, 2011

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

I’m finding it difficult to find a charitable explanation for this:

Father Frank Pavone failed to show up for an October 13 meeting with Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo.

Bishop Zurek announced on October 6 that he was inviting Father Pavone to meet with him on October 13, exactly one month after he recalled the pro-life leader to Amarillo. The bishop said that he had asked Father Pavone to spend some time in prayer and reflection on his priesthood, and would speak to him about his “spiritual progress” during that period.

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

…….“In this case, right now, a real concern for me is Father Pavone.”

Perhaps rightly so.  I don’t know why Pavone would not show up to the meeting. 

Could be that Bishop Zurek was perfectly correct in everything he said in his letter and in all actions taken thus far.  I would say, however, the Priests for Life is much more than just Fr. Frank Pavone.

UPDATE: Pavone says he did not show because Bishop Zurek insisted the meeting be one on one, with no canon lawyer present.  Knowing what I know of priests who have been shanghaied in the past, going to such a meeting with a bishop without benefit of counsel can lead to disastrous consequences for the priest.  This was really a no-win situation for Pavone.  If he shows without a canon lawyer, the bishop could maneuver him into a very difficult position, or even take steps to end his ministry.  But by not showing, Pavone now looks uncooperative in the eyes of public opinion.

As I said before, barring some intervention on his behalf by the higher authority of Rome (which almost never happens), Pavone is unlikely to ever have a public role again.



1. eternalu - October 14, 2011

Since no one knows anything about the background of what actually happened yesterday, these remarks seem premature, and rather judgmental, don’t you think?

tantamergo - October 14, 2011

I didn’t say anything other than that it’s hard to think of a charitable explanation for not showing for a meeting. This was a key meeting for me. I’ve been very skeptical of Bishop Zurek’s actions, and still feel his original letter was imprudent at the least, but I have also looked for signs that Fr. Pavone is willing to work with the Bishop. Perhaps I put too much stock in Bishop Zurek’s offer to meet, but Fr. Pavone was tweeting all yesterday afternoon and did not mention the meeting, did not mention he was sick, or had car trouble, or couldn’t get a ride……he basically ignored it yesterday in his several communications. Why would that be?

I can’t think of many explanations that would redound to Fr. Pavone’s credit in being a willing, obedient priest.

2. Simon - October 14, 2011

At first, I was encouraged by Fr. Pavone’s original response to Bp. Zuzek’s direction, and skeptical about the wisdom of his excellency’s move (e.g. http://simondodd.org/blog/?p=152). But nothing that has happened since then has reflected well on Pavone, whose compliance has seemed petulant and grudging. In particular, the issues raised by a letter dissected by Ed Peters at http://canonlawblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/some-non-canonical-reactions-to-fr.html sounded a very large alarm bell. One is obviously reluctant to draw such a conclusion, but looking at things from the outside, Pavone appears more interested in working as a pro-life activist than in ministering as a priest. I hope that is not the case, but that appears to be the drift of events, and it is deeply unwise for him to turn from grudging obedience to open defiance.

tantamergo - October 14, 2011

I’ve been more doubtful of Bishop Zurek than you have, perhaps, but have always held that Fr. Pavone has given signs of having problems with the spirit of obedience, if not the letter. Failing to meet is a big sign. It’s difficult for me to explain why he would not meet.

Your initial post was excellent, BTW.

3. MichaelL - October 14, 2011

FIRST, the advertisement for the “Bad Teacher” movie on this page was highly offensive. This is the reason I don’t allow ads on my blog.

I’m not as disturbed by Father Frank’s no-show as you are. I never expected anything good to come out of this meeting anyway.

As for possible explanations, I can think of a few. Of course it would be better to wait until there is a statement from Father Frank himself. But first remember that the main issue here is not about a skipped meeting or even “obedience”. I’m reminded of the famous quote from Cool Hand Luke, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

Keep in mind also that the Bishop said this would be a “private” meeting – but he publicly announced it. And also keep in mind that the Bishop himself was a “no-show” for a month. Anything said in a private meeting can be spun any which way by the Bishop, and if Father Frank would tried to give an alternate explanation of what happened he would again be labeled “disobedient” for contradicting his Ordinary — or even for just speaking out according to some people.

So one scenario is that he was advised by canon or civil lawyers not to meet with the Bishop unless he could have someone else in the room with him that could represent him. Or at the very least to be a witness to what is discussed.

Or it could be that Father wants to delay the meeting because he is waiting for a reply from some other Church authorities.

I don’t know. But this is the way that “witch hunts” are conducted. First a bogus accusation is made and then the allegations widen and the “lack of cooperation” by an innocent person attempting to defend himself is thrown in as “suspicious behavior”. Until anything a person says or does not say is touted as proof of their guilt.

You know, like throwing someone in the ocean with an anchor tied to them and if they sink then they are innocent (but dead) because we all know that a witch would use his powers to be able to float.

Anyway, if you want to see what I have been writing about this go to http://publicvigil.blogspot.com/ and type “Pavone” into the search box.

tantamergo - October 14, 2011

Ad? On my blog? I don’t have any ads! Neither does Catholic Culture. Not sure what you’re talking about.

MichaelL - October 14, 2011

See this statement by WordPress about their ad policy:

“We sometimes display advertisements on your blog to help pay the bills. To eliminate ads on your blog entirely, you can purchase the No-Ads Upgrade.”

4. MichaelL - October 14, 2011

Bingo! I just saw this after posting my previous comment:

“In response, Fr. Pavone’s canon lawyer has said that he advised Fr. Pavone not to attend the meeting without a mediator present.”


tantamergo - October 14, 2011

I’m done talking about this issue. It’s wearing me out. It’s like a soap opera. It never ends.

MichaelL - October 14, 2011

I respect your frustration with this issue. But just think how frustrated Father Frank must be. I’m sure this is just what Bishop Zurek would like. He wants us all to just forget about Father Frank and abandon him. If it wasn’t for the fact that Priests for Life is so highly visible the bishop would be able to force Father Frank out of pro-Life work (or out of the priesthood) and no one would know. Just look at what has happened recently to Father Michael Rodriguez.

Pray for Father Frank and Bishop Zurek.

Woody - October 14, 2011

Fr. Pavone needs to get his priorities in line. He is a priest first, not the administrator of an organization that happens to be a priest.

5. Mary - October 14, 2011

True enough, priests don’t want to be caught anywhere alone without a canon lawyer present.
What a crazy world.

When I lay out all of the Bishop’s statements, something doesn’t add up. He expressed concern for the finances. He is concerned about some phantom future accusation/event. He needs another priest in the diocese.
So, what does he do? He brings him home, leaves town (hasn’t even sat down with him). He places him in isolation, removing him from the public. He asks him to “spend his time in … prayer and reflection (amongst the snakes and nothing else – he can’t even go back to NY to gather his clothes or belongings). Then he publicly asks for a private meeting.

I just read that the bishop has not responded to requests for mediation, from http://amarillo.com/news/local-news/2011-10-14/priests-life-release-statement-explaining-no-show :

“Unfortunately, Bishop Zurek has not responded to or even acknowledged any of these requests.

Instead, he wrote to Fr. Frank, asked him to come to a one-on-one meeting with him, and asked him in writing not to speak to anyone about the meeting. Then, the next day, before Father Frank even had an opportunity to respond, the Bishop announced the meeting on the front page of the website of the Amarillo diocese.

I’m having a difficult time seeing that the bishop is being charitable. Perhaps he has “the right”, but is he being a good shepherd?

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