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Father Pavone a no-show for meeting with his bishop

October 14, 2011

Father Frank Pavone failed to show up for an October 13 meeting with Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo.

A canon lawyer representing Priests for Life, the organization that Father Pavone heads, revealed that he had advised the embattled priest not to attend the proposed meeting with his bishop, until the bishop responds to requests for mediation to resolve their difficulties.

Bishop Zurek announced on October 6 that he was inviting Father Pavone to meet with him on October 13, exactly one month after he recalled the pro-life leader to Amarillo. The bishop said that he had asked Father Pavone to spend some time in prayer and reflection on his priesthood, and would speak to him about his “spiritual progress” during that period.

“I would welcome a meeting with Father Pavone, face to face, a meeting as his bishop,” Bishop Zurek said. “I am still waiting for a favorable response to that.”

“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.”

Bishop Zurek rebutted some reports circulated by pro-life allies of Father Pavone, who have charged that the priest is being harshly treated. Father Pavone has access to his telephone and to the internet, the bishop observed. He flatly denied one report that he had denied permission for Father Pavone to see a doctor.

On October 14--the day after the scheduled meeting--Father David Deibel, a canon lawyer representing Priests for Life, disclosed that he had advised Father Pavone not to meet with the bishop.

Father Deibel said that he had made numerous requests to Bishop Zurek, suggesting mediation, but had received no reply. Reporting that other Church officials had recommended mediation, the canonist said: “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.” He said that it would be best for Father Pavone not to meet with his bishop under a plan for mediation was in place.

Father Deibel criticized Bishop Zurek for informing the public about his plans to meet with Father Pavone. “All of us want this entire process to be carried out in private rather than through the media,” he said, in a statement released to the media.


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  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Oct. 17, 2011 6:11 PM ET USA

    Personally, I am tired of the e-mails from the "Free Fr. Frank" groups that ask me to put pressure on Bishop Zurek. What! Have the Democrats taken over the Vatican? Let Fr. Frank deal with Bishop Zurek, or else let him do Pro-Life work as a layman.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 16, 2011 2:25 PM ET USA

    Some commenters here don't get it. "And Peter, after consulting a rabbinical lawyer about his triple denial, chose not to meet the Lord without appropriate mediation." The Bishop is in the place of Jesus Christ to every priest. Fr. Pavone's "lawyering up" contradicts the loving obedience he owes his Bishop.

  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Oct. 16, 2011 11:40 AM ET USA

    Recently, I read here about the Diocese of Springfield (MA) suing parishioners who wanted to keep a church open. Now a lawyer is inserted between Fr. Pavone and his bishop. I don't know who is 'right' or 'wrong' in either dispute, however, these are church matters and the more we drag 'secular-like' remedies into church matters, the further we stray from rendering unto God the things that are God's.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Oct. 16, 2011 10:10 AM ET USA

    "A canon lawyer representing Priests for Life, the organization that Father Pavone heads, revealed that he had advised the embattled priest not to attend the proposed meeting with his bishop, until the bishop responds to requests for mediation to resolve their difficulties." This is a loaded prejudiced article if for nothing else but the title, which clearly insinuates moral defect. It only increases my confidence that Fr Pavone is doing the right thing.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 16, 2011 3:05 AM ET USA

    I'm a former military officer. Leaders should resolve subordinate difficulties quietly. If not possible, public recall should include rational cause and an expected road forward. If Bishop Zurek wished, he could've arranged a friendly meeting weeks ago. That he did not, makes me think Fr Pavone "lawyered up" wisely. One should always have sound legal advice when trust has been hindered like this.

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Oct. 15, 2011 10:14 AM ET USA

    I'm a retired cop and it's been my observation over the years that when someone "lawyers up," he has something to hide. From what I am reading, this bishop is standing on solid ground and Father Pavone is not. This does not bode well for him or the cause he represents. I pray the matter will be resolved expeditiously.

  • Posted by: voxfem - Oct. 14, 2011 10:07 PM ET USA

    The lawyer skews the picture of a priest who is being persecuted. It doesn't really matter if Fr. Pavone is right and his bishop is wrong, or vice versa. The bishop's request that Father take time for prayer and reflection is a right and good thing. We all need that, especially someone who does high profile work and is likely to face attacks by the evil one. I pray that he will truly reflect on his calling to be a priest and meet with the bishop. Without the lawyer.

  • Posted by: mwean7331 - Oct. 14, 2011 6:52 PM ET USA

    I greatly admire Father Ppavone and his tireless work and I did admire the former Father Corapi. I realize some of our Bishops can be selfseeking and unreasonable but when a priest is ordained he takes a vow of obedience (and not just sometimes) Humility is a difficult virtue.I pray Fr Pavone is not another Fr Corapi. We need our good priests

  • Posted by: - Oct. 14, 2011 4:37 PM ET USA

    For heaven's sake, Father Pavone, dump the canon lawyer and go meet your Bishop, with or without mediation.

  • Posted by: stpetric - Oct. 14, 2011 3:34 PM ET USA

    I have been impressed with Fr Pavone in years past, but in this matter he gives every appearance of being willful and disobedient. When your bishop makes a demand of you, you do it.

  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Oct. 14, 2011 11:59 AM ET USA

    God forbid that Fr. Pavone has some serious illness or is being held by kidnappers. However, something like that is the only acceptable excuse for not showing up for this meeting with his bishop.