Father Pavone Still a Priest in Good Standing, Celebrates Mass

National   Steven Ertelt   Sep 14, 2011   |   7:03PM    Amarillo, TX

Priests for Life has released a new statement responding to some of the misreporting in the mainstream media making it appear its director Father Frank Pavone has been “suspended” as a Catholic priest or from the organization.

The pro-life movement has been abuzz with the news that Amarillo Bishop Patrick J. Zurek of the Diocese of Amarillo has asked him to come back to serve in the diocese and has temporarily prevented him from exercising his duties as the head of Priests for Life. Zurek alleges, with little supporting evidence, that there are financial irregularities at Priests for Life despite annual audits from one of the nation’s top accounting firms.

Pavone has arrived in Texas to be obedient to the call from the bishop and Priests for Life indicated he celebrated Mass today with parishioners.

In a new statement to LifeNews, Priests for Life said it was widely misreported in various Catholic and secular media that the Most Reverend Patrick Zurek, Bishop of Amarillo, had “suspended” Rev. Frank Pavone, a priest of his diocese, and put him “on leave.”

“This is absolutely false,” notes Father David Deibel, JD, JCL, Chief Canonist for Priests for Life. “Father Pavone is and has been a priest in good standing. Moreover, the canonical language of “suspension” in this regard is a mistake. Father Pavone has not in any way incurred any ecclesiastical penalty. Nor is Father Frank under the threat of any penalty.”

In a Catholic News Service story dated Sept. 14, 2011, Msgr. Harold Waldow, vicar for clergy in the diocese of Amarillo, confirmed Father Pavone’s good standing:

“Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, remains a priest in good standing in the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas”  said Msgr. Harold Waldow, vicar for clergy in the diocese. Msgr. Waldow told CNS Sept. 13 that Bishop Patrick J. Zurek only suspended Father Pavone’s ministry outside of the diocese because the well-known pro-life priest is needed for work in Amarillo.”

Today, as a priest in good standing in the Amarillo diocese, Father Pavone celebrated Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Amarillo.

As LifeNews.com reported earlier today, Father Pavone shared the following update with LifeNews today about his travel to Texas and the support he has received from the pro-life community — from both Catholic and evangelical leaders and organizations:

I am now in Amarillo – as obedience requires — for my temporary visit as matters with my bishop are worked out.  The expression of support from pro-life leaders and activists has been constant and strong. They know that as large ministries in the Church grow, they inevitably have times of conflict with local Church authority. As long as the situation is handled with humility and obedience, combined with an unwavering commitment to the mission at hand, it works out in the right way. In this case, it will make Priests for Life and the whole pro-life movement much stronger, and will confirm me in the permanent, lifelong commitment I have to spend every moment of my time and every ounce of my energy defending the unborn from abortion.

Along with all the prayers that are being offered, I know we are all benefiting from the prayers of three people in particular, who are interceding from heaven: Blessed John Paul II, Blessed Mother Teresa, and Cardinal John O’Connor.

I knew all three of them personally. Each of them helped me to shape Priests for Life into what it is today. Each of them taught me how to be a pro-life leader and a faithful priest. Each of them gave me immense personal encouragement through our conversations, through the doors that they opened for me and the ministry, and through the guidance they gave.

May everyone in the Church, clergy and laity alike, learn from their total commitment to ending abortion, and follow their example in striving for that goal.