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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pavone's Third Appeal


Tell me this man doesn't have a tin ear.

It's September 17, the bishop chastised him on September 9, and in the intervening eight days, he's sent out TWO, count 'em, TWO appeals for money even though he knows full well that his own bishop has serious concerns about his fiscal accountability!

This is unconscionable.

In the first e-mail, he and his staff lied to his donors.
Then, when he realized his donors knew what was going on and were angry at the bishop, he used his donors' anger to double down and appeal for more cash.

I'm sorry, but at this point, I firmly believe Fr. Pavone is a money-grubbing worm.
He's got ZERO business doing this until a little more clarity is brought to the situation.
The man should at least show a little respect for his bishop - no matter what else - and hold off on begging for funds for a few weeks. He's barely waited a few days.

Now, to be clear, I don't have a problem with lay people going after bishops on doctrinal issues. Everyone should go after bishops when they get doctrine wrong - lay people, priests, brother bishops, whoever. A person is only bound to follow a bishop insofar as he does not violate doctrine. Once he does, the duty to obey him is gone.

And on prudential issues, lay people can certainly make clear their disagreement with the bishop. They can even do it in a public way, if they want. That's the beautiful thing about being Catholic - there are some prudential issues on which good Catholics can disagree.

But when it comes to a priest disagreeing with his bishop, the priest has a duty to maintain his vow of obedience. He can still disagree, but he cannot do so publicly, even if the bishop is prudentially in the wrong. The priest has a duty not to undermine his bishop's authority, since the priest's authority flows from that of the bishop.

It doesn't matter whether the priest is heading a private corporation, occupying a political office or doing something that is under direct diocesan control - the man took a sacred vow to obey the bishop and uphold his authority, and he's bound by that vow. Even if his corporation is not bound by the vow, the man is.

Fr. Pavone is now directly undermining his own bishop's authority.
He is no better than Fr. Michael Pfleger in Chicago, or any other disobedient priest.

September 17, 2011
Dear Steve,
I sent you this urgent email because I have some important issues that concern you, me, our work together at Priests for Life, and the entire pro-life movement here in the United States.
In light of all that’s happened in the past couple weeks – and again, I’ll discuss this with you in just a moment – it is vital that you maintain your unconditional support for Priests for Life and the fight to end legalized abortion-on-demand in America. Right now that means doing whatever is necessary to click here and send Priests for Life the largest gift you can possibly make today. Not an hour from now.  Not later this evening.  Not tomorrow.  But right now!
Forgive me for being so blunt, but there’s a reason for it.
Due to all the many and various means of getting information today, I have no idea what you may or may not have heard or read about me and my bishop, the Most Reverend Patrick Zurek.
In any case, over-zealous members of an abortion-friendly news media, as well as enemies directly involved with the abortion industry, have spent the past week or so spreading a lot of misinformation and totally false allegations against me and Priests for Life.
I suspect they did so in the hope that you, as well as everyone else who makes our work possible, might pull back on your support … or abandon us completely.  
In order to keep you from falling victim to their agenda, I decided the best course of action would be to go on the offensive and tell you everything that’s happened over the past two weeks so that you will have no misgivings whatsoever in continuing to support Priests for Life as faithfully and as generously as you have in the past.
You can also click here and watch a short YouTube message I recorded while here in Amarillo.
In any case, here’s the official position of the Amarillo diocese concerning me: 


1. I am not suspended and I never was.  You can call the Amarillo chancery if you feel like you need to.  The number is 806 – 383 – 2243.  You’ll probably be connected to Deacon Floyd Ashley, the diocese’s Executive Assistant.  He will confirm what I just told you.


2. I have not lost any of my priestly faculties.  Again, Deacon Ashley will confirm that.


3. And I know this will be of great interest to you, Monsignor Harold Waldow, the Vicar of Clergy for the Amarillo Diocese, has sent out a letter in which he states that I have not been “charged with any malfeasance” nor even been “accused of any wrong doing with the financial matters of Priests for Life.” 


4. While Bishop Zurek wants to clear up any and all misunderstandings, he made it clear that he does not want the work of Priests for Life to be harmed. 

5. For the time being, my ministry is restricted to the diocese of Amarillo and it will remain restricted until Bishop Zurek and I can sit down and reach a mutual understanding on my dual role as both a priest in his diocese and a priest dedicated to pro-life work on a full-time basis.

There you have it.  That’s it.  That’s everything.
So for now I am here in Amarillo anxiously awaiting Bishop Zurek’s return from a trip he’d scheduled some time ago so we can have our meeting and I can get on with the work of leading the People of Life to victory over abortion.  
And in the end, that’s all I’m concerned with.  
Because no matter what happens to me personally, the fight against abortion must continue without pause and without interruption.
But that fight is in real jeopardy now because of a misunderstanding between my bishop and me that someone leaked out to a news media filled with individuals who would like nothing better than to fracture the pro-life movement and bring Priests for Life down.
I’m writing to assure you that I am doing everything I can to keep that from happening.
Still, I’m not so naïve as to think that there won’t be some fallout from this situation.
In spite of the fact that I am a member in good standing on the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life; that 21 bishops and cardinals sit on the Priests for Life Episcopal Advisory Board; that dozens of outstanding and highly respected pro-life leaders endorse Priests for Life’s ministry, the fact remains that there are a great many pro-life individuals who will read the headlines and think that I have been suspended or that Priests for Life has been dissolved.
Again, neither situation is even remotely true.
But in today’s world, more often than not, perception is truth.  
And those heralds of the culture of death who seek to destroy Priests for Life and undermine the pro-life movement will use my current situation to mislead people into thinking that they are wasting their precious pro-life dollars by entrusting them to Priests for Life.  
I simply cannot afford for you to fall victim to their lies and campaign of misinformation.  So even though I am deeply grateful for the outpouring of support that I continue to receive from people all across the country, and even from around the world … the only support I’m interested in securing right now is yours! That’s because there are literally millions of men and women here in the United States who share our pro-life convictions to one degree or another.
Regrettably, however, only a small percentage of them have the same commitment and dedication as you do.  These are the people who will read the headlines and be fooled into thinking that they should hold off on giving any more financial support to Priests for Life until my situation is resolved.
But that’s precisely what the devil wants them to do.
After years of extremely hard work and a lot of personal sacrifice on your part, we’ve got the abortion industry on the ropes!  The polls show this.  The efforts in states all across the country show this.
Now is not the time to restrict our work.  It’s time to advance it!  Full speed ahead!
But we cannot possibly do that if you abandon Priests for Life in this its hour of greatest need.
So please click here right now and make as large a contribution to Priests for Life as you possibly can. 
Please do this before you delete my email and go on to your next one.
In asking you to trust me in this way, I want to make it very clear to you that Priests for Life is above reproach in its financial management and the stewardship of the monies it has received from you and other dedicated pro-lifers.
And as relieved as I am to learn of Monsignor Waldow’s letter confirming that, I must tell you that I’m not in the least surprised.
That’s because I am painfully aware of the many sacrifices which you and other supporters make to send Priests for Life the contributions that enable us to fulfill our pro-life mission.  I would never betray the trust you have put in me.  
You have my word on that.
And if you have any concerns about how your dollars are spent, call us up and ask.  Come and visit our offices.  Priests for Life is an open book and has absolutely nothing to hide.
Now let me address another important matter.
Due to the serious ramifications of how some in the news media, as well as those working to advance the abortion agenda, have used Bishop Zurek’s letter to attack me and Priests for Life, I felt it necessary to begin 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. 
I am extremely confident that the Vatican will resolve this matter in a just and equitable fashion.  And you will be pleased to know that, based on that confidence … 
… we are not currently making any changes in any positions at Priests for Life, or in any of our projects and plans.

In closing, let me assure you that Priests for Life will continue to be out front leading the fight against abortion.  
I refuse to allow this current incident to deter me from giving everything I have to the cause of life.  
Our bishops correctly teach that the right to life is the fundamental right upon which all human rights are based.  Our nation’s founding documents insist that the first of man’s inalienable rights, those that come to us from God alone, is his RIGHT TO LIFE!!!
Knowing this, Priests for Life will continue to support our bishops here in the U.S. and act as a megaphone to help spread their pro-life statements far and wide.  
What’s more, Priests for Life will continue to serve dioceses – both clergy and laity – without asking for so much as a penny in compensation … no speakers fees, no reimbursements to cover travel expenses when we preach at parishes, no printing costs to help pay for the millions of pieces of pro-life literature we provide for dioceses at no charge, nothing.
Our commitment to winning the fight against abortion remains firm and complete.
And we will not be deterred in the work God has called us to fulfill.
Again, though, in order to make good on that commitment, Priests for Life must have your financial help … especially now when so many false stories and news reports are out there damaging our reputation and our good name.
So if you haven’t already done so, please click here and make as large a contribution to Priests for Life as you possibly can.
I cannot write to every American and tell them the truth.
But I can write to you.  And that’s what I’ve done today.
Like I said, as grateful as I am for all the support and encouragement I’ve received over the past several days, the only person I’m interested in hearing from right now is you!
By making a contribution to Priests for Life today, you’ll be telling me that you’re still with us. 
And if ever I needed to hear that from you, now is the time.
Finally, know that in anticipation of your receiving your reply to this email, I am praying for you; especially at each Mass that I offer.  Thank you again for your constancy and your commitment.  May God bless you.
Pavone-Signature.jpg Fr. Frank Pavone 

PS There is one more thing I need you to do: PRAY!  Pray for Bishop Zurek.  Pray for me.  Pray for all those who may be harmed as a result of this minor misunderstanding … in particular, our unborn brothers and sisters.  Thank you again for your friendship and trust.  I do not know how I would ever survive trials such as these without you and dear friends like you.  God bless.

NOTE: If you prefer to send a check, please make it out to Priests for Life and send it to us at PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314. If you have any questions, call us toll-free at 888-735-3448 x232. 
If you do not wish to receive any emails from us, let us know at However, unsubscribing will deprive you of some important and helpful information in the months to come, and therefore we strongly encourage you to stay on our list! 

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susan said...

"I firmly believe Fr. Pavone is a money-grubbing worm"

The man lives in a one room apartment that barely fits a table and a bed. I think you are a publiblicity-begging worm.

"He is no better than Fr. Michael Pfleger in Chicago, or any other disobedient priest."

He is a priest who has never spoken or taught against or contrary to Church doctrine (quite the opposite of Pfleger). The bishop's letter contained much scathing inuendo that Fr. Pavone has every right to refute, and every right to appeal directly to Rome. He has returned to Amarillo in obedience (NOT defiance), and he fears for the folding of a great organization that has saved countless unborn lives, thus the appeal for funds. I would suggest you keep a calm copuntenance until this all plays out. You are adding detraction (sin) to the mix in a situation you truly know next to NOTHING about. To satisfy obedience, a priest doesn't have to be a punching bag, a doormat, or a sex-toy for a bishop who is acting a matter of fact, he is called, in justice, to reveal the impropriety...if the impropriety was made public (as the bishop's letter was) the response may be public also. He has done everything the bishop has requested...he has been obedient.

You and your ilk just seem to salivate in wait to defame, deride, and bring down every priest who is accused of anything, true or otherwise. I think there is a rabid organization out there that you would feel quite at home's called SNAP, and I'm sure they'd love to have you.

Shame on you. Would that you would get your butt out in the streets and byways to heal the lives, and save the unborn as Fr. Pavone has done. You defame a reputation and a good name in your opining, shame on you.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Sorry, Susan.

If this is "detraction" then you admit I am telling THE TRUTH.

Detraction means telling the truth about someone in a way that unnecessarily damages or destroys their reputation.

Slander is what you mean (speaking falsehoods about someone else in order to destroy their reputation), and that's what you are doing to the bishop.

I haven't said anything false about Fr. Pavone, and he's destroying his own reputation quite nicely.

If the bishop isn't happy with Pavone's financial revelations, it is Pavone's duty - as a priest - to do whatever it takes to make the bishop happy.

It doesn't matter if Fr. Pavone thinks he has done an adequate job or if you think that or if I think that. Fr. Pavone has a SACRAMENTAL VOW to obedience and therefore a DUTY to the bishop to make sure the BISHOP thinks that.

If Fr. Pavone had done everything the bishop requested, the bishop wouldn't be shutting him down.

So, you're clearly wrong.

Clearly, you and Pavone thinks he has done enough, but you two don't get to be the judges in this situation - that's the bishop's right.

Now, you implicitly accuse the bishop of sexual impropriety.

Call me crazy, but I see that as a problem.

And, if it's any consolation, I've been arrested twice for blocking abortion clinics. I spent some time in jail on both occasions, so don't tell me what I need to do to satisfy your "pro-life" demands.

susan said...

"Now, you implicitly accuse the bishop of sexual impropriety.
Call me crazy, but I see that as a problem."

Oh PLEASE! Re-read what I wrote, I did NOT accuse THIS bishop of sexual impropiety. I said "To satisfy obedience, a priest doesn't have to be a punching bag, a doormat, or a sex-toy for a bishop who is acting improperly", A bishop (ala Rembert Weakland); to the sane reader I was making the point that bishops don't always act properly, and should be called on it...would that it had happened earlier in Weakland's diocese before he make a trainwreck of the Faith there.

And I stand by what I said, you are engaging in detraction. Shame on you.

naturgesetz said...

"A person is only bound to follow a bishop insofar as he does not violate doctrine. Once he does, the duty to obey him is gone."

No, no, no!

Leaving aside the point that "violate doctrine" is a strange and ambiguous phrase, even if a bishop someday says something doctrinally erroneous, he still has the threefold office of teaching, governing, and sanctifying his church (i.e., his diocese) until he dies, resigns, or is removed from office by the Pope.

It will not do for an individual Catholic to say, "Bishop X misstated the doctrine of the Eucharist (or sexuality, or whatever). So he has no authority over me."

Beyond the fact that that just isn't how it works under Church law, it would be ludicrous for laity, especially those who are not trained as theologians, to presume to decide that their bishop has truly "violated" doctrine. Imagine the chaos when Catholics of all stripes go into rebellion because they have been able to nitpick some point on which they think that their bishop has erred.

BTW, I think that Fr. Pavone and Priests for Life are not the same thing and that whatever Bishop Zurek's problems may be with Fr. Pavone, PFL is entitled to continue its activities, for which it needs money to pay expenses. And the bishop does not seem to have forbidden Fr. Pavone to solicit contributions to PFL.

Further BTW, I have not contributed to PFL for many years because their constant appeals for more and more money eventually turned me off. (I rarely contribute to my party for the same reason.)

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Exactly right, naturegesetz.

Insofar as a bishop teaches incorrect doctrine, I am not bound to follow that particular incorrect teaching.

But I am STILL bound to follow him in all the other things he has to say, insofar as what he says binds.

The priest has an even greater duty towards his bishop than a layperson, since the priest's power of office flows from that of the bishop.

You are also correct that Priests for Life is not the same as Fr. Pavone.

It is Pavone ALONE whom the bishop called home, and Pavone ALONE whom the bishop named when he asked other bishops not to allow him to speak in any diocese.

Perfectly proper, on the bishop's part.

susan said...

Wow, you people really like to misconstrue words. Nowhere did I say (or even imply!) that an individual Catholic should say about his bishop, "he has no authority over me".

But to keep the peace, I will acquiesce to your point: Rembert Weakland should have been able to diddle all the seminarians he wanted and no Catholic has the right to say anything negative about it; Cardinal Schonborn is the main celebrant at a 'balloon Mass' with blaring rock music, lasar lights, and the Eucharist distributed like big pieces of cake, being dropped all over the filthy floor, but no Catholic has any business pointing out the depravity. I acquiesce. My bad.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Yes, susan, you are bad.

susan said...

Ah, reasoned discourse.

You might wanna wipe that little bit of foam dripping from the corner of your mouth, Steve.

Steve Kellmeyer said...


You won't even let me agree with you, eh?


Doug Pearson said...

The longer this situation drags on... the more time Father has to embarrass himself by trying to turn this situation into a fund raising opportunity.

I think that I am becoming more and more supportive of the Bishop's need to make this a public process.

susan said...

"The longer this situation drags on... "'s been ONE week!...Fr. Pavone's gone back obediently, and the bishop's taken himself on a 2 week vacation!

Steve Kellmeyer said...

And at this rate, there should be at LEAST one to two more appeals for funds from Father Pavone before Bishop comes back!

The man is looking more and more like a money-sucking grub.

He seems to be using the bishop's absence to fill up his coffers. How very thoughtful.

susan said...

"a money-sucking grub"

no, you're not engaging in detraction...naaaaah

THE BISHOP HAS GONE ON A 2 WEEK VACATION!...who's obfuscating?
And Steve, that's a rhetorical question, we all know the answer. And we all get that you can't stand Fr. Pavone, got it. Don't give 'Priest's For Life' money. But this unremitting character assassination is really pathological. Any other nasty epithets you wanna throw at a good priest of God?

susan said...

Gee, just noticed all the shilling for your books that immediately accost a visitor at the top of your blog page...what a money-grubbing worm you are...a true money-sucking grub. Guess this has been a case of projection for you all along.

Kevin said...


Actually, when it comes to refuting it in public, Fr. Pavone...... does not have that right Priests are given proper channels. Fr. Pavone indicated he wishes to take those channels, and such is his right. Yet in the meantime, he shouldn't be going out on the offensive like this.

The Bishop asked (probably out of being nice rather than commanding) that donations to priests for life be suspended during the investigation. This is about a lot more than just his "dual role." Fr. Pavone knows that. The letter to every Bishop in America says it quite clearly.

If one speaks out hoping to prevent people from causing further error, it isn't detraction. Fr. Pavone has an obligation to be obedient, not just in the letter (which he is), but also the spirit of the Bishop's desires that he laid out clearly (which he isn't.)

Traditionalists who have always fought to maintain their loyalty to Rome take the nature of the priesthood very seriously. Not just on the doctrinal things, but on matters of obedience as well. If Priests for Life folded tomorrow, the fight against abortion would still go on. We should never think of ourselves as so essential we get to live by a different standard, which is what Fr. Pavone is advocating right now.

The Bishop made his wish known that people not donate to Priests for Life. By requesting those donations continue, he is clearly thumbing his nose at his Bishop.

susan said...

Kevin, What exactly is the bishop's obligation to his sons, his priests? His rather snarky letter went public, with clear insinuations that Fr, Pavone was under suspicion. The entire tone of his letter hardly displayed a fatherly care and affection, but rather displayed an envious and, dare I say, petulant personality. I didn't know this bishop before, but that letter, and his subsequent responses (to include the fact that he WENT ON VACATION FOR TWO WEEKS--does that not say arrogant, condescending, power-strutting to you?), were one heck of an introduction.

Your response is a bit breathtaking;
"If Priests for Life folded tomorrow, the fight against abortion would still go on. "
Why on earth would ANYONE with a pro-life sensibility, let alone a BISHOP, want to facilitate and hasten the demise of one of the most effective pro-life organizations ever? Of course the fight would go on, but how is it ok to critically cripple the cause like this? How does that in any way give glory to God? To call Fr. Frank home and take him out of the organization would be one thing (and bad enough!), but to strongly request that no one send money to this effective organization (that isn't even under his jurisdiction!) is beyond outrageous

I was intrigued when I saw the list of all the MANY financial disclosure statements that have already been given to the chancery over the years, when requested, to include yearly audit statements by an independent firm showing fiscally responsibly management of PFL. I’d love to see the books on the chancery, because we all know that the bishops have done such an outstanding job in handling the faithful’s contributions…do ya really wanna go down that road?...can you say ACORN, militant homosexual activist causes, and about 50 more I don’t have time to list here?

Something reeks to the high heavens about this whole thing, and close on its tails we have another bishop who's forbidden his priests and seminarians to pray at abortuaries in his diocese; and this is during 40 Days For Life!

And please don't give me the line about 'traditionalists...loyal to Rome'...I've been fighting the fight for tradition for many years now, in time, sweat, and treasure; but I will not, in a disordered sense of obedience, sit quietly by while a good priest is sullied, defamed, and flayed on the web by good 'traditionalists' using phrases like "money-grubbing WORM", and "money-sucking GRUB". You think I'm being disrespectful to a bishop?...The worst I've said about him is that his personality and tone appear envious and petulant in his letter...statement of observation. But "money-grubbing WORM", and "money-sucking GRUB"??? Really, what has been Fr. Pavone’s high-crime to warrant such ad-hominem attack and disrespect? It is matter how you feel about how the bishop or the priest has handled the issue, the invective is appalling, yet you say nothing at all in the negative about this.

Shame on you.

susan said...

Oh, and a quick BTW for Steve:

Definition of DETRACTION
1: a lessening of reputation or esteem especially by envious, malicious, or petty criticism : belittling, disparagement.

detraction [dɪˈtrækʃən]
1. a person, thing, circumstance, etc., that detracts
2. the act of discrediting or detracting from another's reputation, esp by slander; disparagement

But I guess Merriam-Webster and Free Online Dictionary are full-of-beans too.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

I received the following comment via e-mail - I am posting it for a reader who is unable to post at the moment:

"You and I corresponded quite a while ago about a different subject, but I wanted to send you my opinion about the Fr. Pavone situation. I tried to post to your column, but it didn't work.

In the last Presidential election, Fr. Frank Pavone supported John McCain, a pro-abortion so-called Republican, before the primaries.

I understand that it is acceptable to vote for a candidate to lessen the evil. But my opinion is If we keep choosing the lesser of two evils, why do we keep getting evil? I digress. Attached is the flyer for that campaign.

After sending many inquiries to Fr. Pavone questioning his support for pro-abortion McCain before the primaries were even concluded, there was never a response from Fr. Pavone after mailing, e-mailing and telephoning with my inquiry as to why he supported McCain, or at least did not make it clear that McCain was pro-abortion with some life exceptions.

After waiting an appropriate amount of time for response, I requested to be taken off all e-mail and mailing lists of Priests for Life. After many months, only a few mail solicitations still continue but the e-mails stopped.

Interestingly, there was a recent announcement on the Priests for Life web site announcing Vote Pro-Life Coalition.

As Fr. John Hardon has stated, until we stop the contraceptive mentality, we will never stop abortion. Most of the collaborative organizations in this Vote Pro-Life Coalition are known to be pro-abortion with some life exceptions: life, incest, health of the mother, and most of those same organizations do not take a stand against contraception/abortionifacients.

I inquired, through their e-mail contact form, if all the collaborative organizations listed have gone on record as being against contraception/abortifacients and exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.

The day after submitting my inquiry regarding the Vote Pro-Life Coalition, I started receiving e-mail solicitations from Priests for Life, in particular, the one you posted in your column.

It appears to me that those fundraising mega-machines are generated through the e-mail contact forms. Since I have not received a response to my inquiry, I can speculate that those e-mail contact forms are ONLY used for fund raising.

Kevin said...


You yourself have said you didn't know the Bishop beforehand. So perhaps, in your accusation that he is envious, and essentially harboring some secret agenda, you are engaging in rash judgement?

If he is investigating PFL and its subsidaries (personally I think that is where the issue is, as you go lower down the pole, things aren't as organized) in regards to financial questions, it's only prudent to include in that a request to briefly halt donations.

We both agree it isn't an explicit command. Yet is obedience just what we obey in those explicit commands, or is it a mentality where we do what we can to facilitate the will of a superior?

I still happen to think Fr. Pavone is innocent, but he handled this the entirely wrong way. At least what I listened to yesterday on Al Kresta, Pavone is walking back the bomb-throwing rhetoric he started out with, taking the advice of Dr. Ed Peters.

dcs said...

But I guess Merriam-Webster and Free Online Dictionary are full-of-beans too.

Well, yes, when it comes to the definition of terms we use for sins, it is full of beans. Whatever online dictionary you used doesn't make a distinction between detraction and calumny (slander); the Church does.

What exactly is the bishop's obligation to his sons, his priests?

You have this backwards. You should be asking what a priest's obligations to his bishop are.