15 September, 2011

What does the BBB say about Priests for Life? | The Deacon's Bench

Priests for Life (USA) is one of the major pro-life charities in the USA. It's National Director, Fr. Frank Pavone has been called to return to the Diocese in which he is incardinated at least until all of the issues about the management of this important charity are investigated.

Fr. Pavone's response has been interesting to say the least. While respecting his vow of obedience to his Bishop he has returned to his Diocese. At the same time he is publicly challenging his Bishop's decision. The fact that P/L staff and volunteers are going to be picketing churches in Amarillo doesn't stand him in good stead either.

It seems as if Fr. Pavone believes that he is essential to this pro-life ministry. He is mistaken. I'm reminded of a lesson I learned when I was a University student (many, many years ago). I was president of the University Student Union and was considering a run at re-election (something that had never been done before). A good friend came into my office and placed a bucket of water on my desk. "Make a fist and put it into the water" he said, "then pull it out." "After I completed this he asked me... "Is there still a hole in the water where your fist was?" Of course I said 'No'.  "Then you can be replaced" he said. "Any other fist can do the same job. It doesn't need to be you!"

I would say the same to Fr. Pavone. Don't get caught up so much in a particular ministry that you convince yourself that you and you alone can do the job right. No one is that 'essential' to any ministry. If they were, then the ministry is actually about them and not truly about building the Kingdom in expectation of Christ's return. I sincerely hope that Fr. Pavone comes to understand this essential wisdom before he does harm to his vocation and to this important pro-life advocacy group.

What does the BBB say about Priests for Life? | The Deacon's Bench


  1. To which I respond, yes we are all replaceable, but who else has the courage and voice that Fr. Pavone has had during the past decade? who is willing to go to the lengths he does for the unborn and the disabled and the dying? I can't think of anyone, and attempts to disparage Fr. Pavone's good name are all part of the effort to break the pro-life movement. The majority of clergy, including bishops, are incredibly weak on the issue of life, and Fr. Pavone shows that to be so in his ministry. They are feeling threatened by his calling all of us to truth, so best to shut him up and ruin him in the process. That exonerates the others.

  2. Julie: He needs no defense, other than the one he is offering himself. The basis of his appeal to the Vatican is a private vow to work full time on the pro-life campaign so long as he lives, a vow he made before a Cardinal. If the Vatican agrees with him, that his first obligation is to that ministry on, then he will be do so.

    I can only look at this from the perspective as a brother priest. It is NEVER a good idea to publicly show up your bishop. By not speaking out against the demonstrators coming out to protest his suspension from extra-diocesan ministries (good grief Julie, they're even renting a plane to haul around a banner across the sky demanding that the bishop 'free' Fr. Pavone as if he were some sort of prisoner!); and by taking such a public approach in responding to his bishop (please Lord, not another 'BlackSheepDog'), he is violating a very important rubric of priestly life. It's not in the Code... but it's part of 'the code' of setting a decent example among one's brother priests.

    Yes he has been amazing at the pro-life ministry. I sincerely pray that he is soon back in his office. I am simply saying that there are ominous signs in the way that he is handling this situation. Signs that were familiar to me when I was younger and I looked up to priests as examples of love and faith; and now as I look them in the eye as a brother priest.

    God often surprises with a sunny break when threatening clouds are on the horizon and perhaps it will be that way concerning Fr. Pavone. Let simply commit to praying that it turns out in the way that God will be done.

    Fr. Tim

  3. Could it have something to do with his recent statement about continuing the pro-life fight in spite of what the leadership says. Some of the RC leadership is rotten to the core and they do not want anyone to find out about their ineptitude.


  4. Your comments on Fr Pavone are the most succinct and 'on the mark' that I've seen on this topic.I have no idea how this all started but I would hope that the bishop had a chat with his priest befofre publicly pulling the plug.meanwhile a rather disturbing story from the US where a bishop has told his clerics not to take part in pro-life affairs outside abortion clinics etc.He was appointed bishop just this summer.Power play? To what end?Rome has got to get more involved when bishops do questionnable things

  5. I wish some Bishops showed as much zeal to reign in priests that are openly preaching heresy as they do with ones that they deem over zealous about certain grave moral principles.
    In Arnprior, we've had a retreat house that is more like a Buddhist/New age/Occult temple than a Catholic institution for decades now and nobody in the hierarchy seems to be concerned about it. Certain convents have also been a haven for heresy giving more attention to the latest New Age/occult fads than the teachings of the Catholic Church. I've bit my tongue through homilies where priests openly dissented with church teaching and on matter of grave moral significance.
    I think a separation of the goats from the sheep is in tall order. I don't know the Bishops reason for pulling Fr. Pravone. In light of the Black Sheep Dog incident, I wouldn't be too quick to say what he's done is wrong. But it also wouldn't surprise me if the bishop is annoyed with the faithful Catholic voice crying in the wilderness and wanting to silence it. We shall see.


  6. His 'vow' before a cardinal to work on pro-life has no canonical standing . He has been incardinated into his diocese and owes his bishop obedience in all that is not sinful.He was ordained a diocesan priest and has an obligation to serve in that role.Seems to me he is going to be a problem as he sees himself as appointed or anointed to 'do' pro-life ministry.Not so. I doubt he'll find a bishop to accept him and even if he did his current bishop would have to agree to release him.Shades of Sheep Dog?


Followers of this blog:

Blog Archive

Google Analytics