Take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.We finally got a direct quote from Bishop Zurek in the Amarillo press. It comes after Father Frank Pavone did not appear for a scheduled "private" meeting with his Ordinary on October 13. Here are some quotes from an article titled "Despite bishop's meeting request, Pavone a no-show":
– Matthew 18:16
“I would welcome a meeting with Father Pavone, face to face, a meeting as his bishop,” Zurek said. “I am still waiting for a favorable response to that.”The bishop is obviously no stranger to the spin room. Following this deprecatory statement, there was a flurry of denigrating articles from the usual suspects. I'm thinking in particular of the Catholic Culture article (no author -- I guess the article wrote itself) where Phil Lawler has been leading the charge on libeling Father Pavone's good name. And of course the ever pesky gadfly Mark Shea felt it necessary to chime in without all the facts. How's this for showing "respect" for a Catholic priest in good standing:
“This is a delicate internal Church matter that needs to be resolved between a bishop and his priest,” he added. “This is parallel to a human resources matter in the secular workplace. And it is even more sensitive when you factor in the relationship between a bishop and his priest as one similar to a father to a son or a brother to a brother.”
“In this case, right now, a real concern for me is Father Pavone.”
"This kind of petulance makes the bishop look smarter every day. This is your bishop we are talking about, Fr. Pavone. Show some respect." – Mark SheaAnd true to form, Edward Peters -- self-proclaimed canon lawyer extraordinaire -- could not wait for the facts to become clear before excoriating Father Pavone for missing the meeting. (Please see my previous article titled "Ed Peters' dogged defense of Bishop Zurek".) Without anymore information about the situation than you or I have access to, Ed Peters has declared himself to be the ultimate authority on all things related to Frank Pavone and Bishop Zurek. Once again, Peters can find absolutely no fault with Bishop Zurek -- even after he learns some more about the nuances of the situation from Fr. Deibel's account. Will Ed Peters have the manly courage to apologize for his libelous treatment of Father Frank after the fact? So far there are no signs of this ever happening. If Peters is as naïve as he sounds about human nature and Church politics from his posts on Father Pavone, then he has no business being a canon lawyer. I sure wouldn't want to be his client if I were a priest that had been accused of wrongdoing by my bishop.
If they had all waited a short while for a response from Father Frank or had made some attempt to contact Priests for Life, they would have heard the other side of the story. From LifeSiteNews in an article titled "Canon lawyer advised Fr. Pavone not to attend private meeting with bishop" we learn that things are not as simple as Bishop Zurek has attempted to portray them in the Amarillo press.
Fr. Pavone’s canon lawyer has said that he advised Fr. Pavone not to attend the meeting without a mediator present.I suppose that Father Frank's detractors will just use this as more evidence of his lack of "obedience" to his bishop.
“The details and history of the present situation are such that moving forward to a resolution is no longer simply a matter of getting together and talking,” said Canonist Fr. David Deibel.
Fr. Deibel, in his official statement released today, says that requests to have a mediator present at any meeting between Pavone and the bishop have not been acknowledged. “Several Church officials have made it clear that they believe mediation is necessary, and that they are willing to undertake a role as mediators,” he said. “Unfortunately, Bishop Zurek has not responded to or even acknowledged any of these requests.”
“Instead,” added Deibel, “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.”
Fr. Deibel said that Priests for Life would prefer that the process of discussing the disagreement take place in private rather than in the media. He said that Priests for Life remains hopeful that Bishop Zurek will respond privately to the requests for mediation and that the matter will be resolved shortly.
Fr. Deibel said however, “As his canonical consultant, I advised Father Frank not to have this private meeting until the process of mediation is underway.”
I wrote a comment at another website just shortly before learning of the response from Priests for Life. I have to give myself a pat on the back for understanding how this situation has been playing out. Here it is:
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 I have from the beginning, I remain "In full support of Father Frank Pavone".
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 have 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.
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Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.
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- Homilies by Father Frank Pavone
- Priests for Life comparison of the Democratic and Republican party platforms
- Sep 12 letter from Priest for Life canon lawyer
- Bishop Zurek on Father Pavone's priestly status
- Ed Peters' dogged defense of Bishop Zurek
- Father Michael Rodriguez and Father Frank Pavone
- The bishops on marriage: right message, wrong timing
- Father Frank on Ave Maria Radio
- Bishop Gries: "Please continue to support Priests for Life"
- If 100 bishops got thrown in jail ... that would be wonderful
- Bishop Zurek says Priests for Life has no "ecclesial status"
- In full support of Father Frank Pavone
- Forgive them
- Slaying the abortion dragon
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UPDATE 1 [Oct 14]:
Amarillo.com has published a follow up article titled "Priests for Life defends no-show" giving Father Deibel's explanation of why Father Frank did not meet with Bishop Zurek. Here is the full statement released by Father Deibel as it appears on the Priests for Life website:
Official Statement from the Rev. David Deibel, Canonist+ + +
As Canonical Advisor to Fr. Frank Pavone and Priests for Life, I have, on numerous occasions, communicated on their behalf with Bishop Patrick Zurek, asking for a mediator as a first step in restoring trust and facilitating healing in the relationship between the bishop and his priest. I can attest that Fr. Pavone is eager to restore with Bishop Zurek the trust and communication that should exist between any priest and his bishop. Fr. Pavone remains in Amarillo as directed by his bishop, and remains faithful and obedient.
The details and history of the present situation are such that moving forward to a resolution is no longer simply a matter of getting together and talking. Several Church officials have made it clear that they believe mediation is necessary, and that they are willing to undertake a role as mediators. 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.
As his canonical consultant, I advised Father Frank not to have this private meeting until the process of mediation is underway. All of us want this entire process to be carried out in private rather than through the media. He remains hopeful and prayerful that the bishop will respond privately to requests made of him, and that this situation will be resolved shortly in a truly Christian and ecclesial manner. I ask all to respect Father’s prayerful wishes in this regard.
Reverend David L. Deibel, JD, JCL
UPDATE 2 [OCT 14]:
True to form, Mark Shea brushed off Fr. Deibel's statement in an impudent comment:
"How thoughtful to deign to explain this the day after he blows off his bishop. Sorry, but he’s being childish. It’s like watching a divorcing prima donna spouse only talking to her husband through a lawyer. How about a little humility?"Seriously, when is National Catholic Register going to give this gossipy columnist the boot? It is obvious that NCR is withholding judgement on the whole AmarilloGate mess that the bishop has fabricated. There have only been a few carefully worded articles on the site on this topic. I'm sure this has a lot to do with the fact that NCR is now affiliated with (owned by??) EWTN where the Priests for Life TV show "Defending Life" is seen.
And yet columnist Mark Shea has been constantly fanning the flames of controversy with his statements on his own blog. On top of that, Shea's general liberal Catholic pronouncements are far out of line with EWTN's goal of creating an orthodox Catholic presence on TV, radio and the internet. I think Shea would fit in much better at the heterodox National Catholic REPORTER -- also known as the National Catholic fish-wrap.
It was also interesting to see Ed Peters commenting over at Mark Shea's site. You would think that Mr. Peters would chastise Mr. Shea over some of his derogatory comments. But no. Does this mean that Peters shares Shea's open disdain for Father Frank Pavone? Well, until I see Peters publicly single out Shea for criticism, I have to come to that conclusion. Which casts a whole different light on some of Peters' supposedly lawerly statements.
Is there an organized campaign among certain prominent Catholic persons online to damage the reputations of Father Frank and Priests for Life? I'm waiting to hear next from the opinionated Gerald Nadal, who has made it very clear that he doesn't need any facts to come to the conclusion that Father Frank is guilty of .... well, something!
Is this the same gang that attacked Lila Rose and Live Action for their use of undercover tactics to expose Planned Parenthood? Who's side are they on?