Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thoughts on the Fr. Pavone Situation

Fr. Frank Pavone has been recalled to his diocese by his bishop. There are plenty of reports of the letters and responses between the two, and many articles and commentaries have already been written.

An excellent canonical view is provided, of course, by Dr. Ed Peters at his blog, In the Light of the Law.

My own thoughts, for whatever they are worth: Satan is seeking the ruin of souls. Duh.

On first hearing of the Fr. Pavone situation, I immediately thought of Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer, formerly of Human Life International. Then I thought of the sad Fr. Corapi scene. And finally, I thought of two cases I know of personally but which are quietly unfolding in their own dioceses with no attention from the media.

It seems to me that Satan is working especially hard to undermine the pro-life work of priests. He doesn’t care if a priest is innocent or guilty; he just wants his name besmirched and the faithful to be scandalized. Fr. Euteneuer admitted guilt; Fr. Corapi denied everything; Fr. Pavone is not even really accused of anything, mention being made of Priest For Life’s financial management, but no substantive accusations having been made.

Now the questions are raised, though: Is Fr. Frank mismanaging the finances of PFL? Is he being disobedient to his bishop? Is he taking incardination into a diocese too lightly? Should people continue to donate to PFL? I don’t think anyone seriously believes that PFL has NOT been doing good, solid, pro-life work for the past decade or so, but now aspersions have been cast.

Bishop Zurek's communications on the matter seem very confused and confusing. Initially, he says he is concerned about Fr. Pavone’s “stewardship of the finances of Priests For Life” (see his letter); then he accuses Fr. Pavone of letting his fame go to his head. But later, Msgr. Harold Waldow, apparently speaking for the Diocese of Amarillo and the bishop, states that Fr. Pavone is only being called back to the diocese because he is “needed” there (see article here).

In my mind, confusion reigns supreme in all this.

Satan took out Fr. Euteneuer, who gave in to temptation and fell. Personally, I think Fr. Euteneuer handled the situation correctly by confessing his sin, expressing his remorse publicly, and quietly following whatever orders his bishop gave him. Unfortunately, Fr. Euteneuer’s excellent book on exorcism has become unavailable through its publisher and through mainstream outlets as a result. And of course, we no longer have the benefit of Fr. E's blunt and enlightening editorials via Human Life International.

Fr. Corapi fell hard. Was he guilty as apparently charged? We may never know. But more visibly, he refused to comply with the orders of his religious superiors, and unilaterally declared himself no longer a priest, essentially. As far as I am aware, his teaching has always been orthodox, but now it is unavailable through Catholic sources because of his unwillingness to be obedient to the Church he says he loves. He’s marketing it himself, but how far can that go? He said he didn’t want to “crawl under a rock and die”, but I’m thinking he managed to do something pretty close to that.

Now Fr. Pavone is attacked. Are the charges valid? We don’t know. As Dr. Ed Peters notes, both sides have valid points from a canonical standpoint. But, again as Dr. Peters notes, both sides are making some errors in terms of presentation in the media. The result is confusion and scandal for the faithful.

So two leaders are basically out of the picture, and a third is trying hard to keep himself in the fight. They're not the only ones, of course; I know of at least three other priests facing such difficulties. They are not in the media limelight, so you won't see their names in headlines. The fight is going on constantly, though.

To top it all off, this afternoon another story has surfaced on LifeSiteNews: Spokane Bishop Blase Cupich has “apparently urged diocesan priests and seminarians in a September meeting not to pray outside abortion clinics”. What kind of nonsense is that!?!

Satan is working overtime. Duh.

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