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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Father Pavone to Seek New Diocese, Bishop Extends Inquiry; Group will Picket Parishes

Father Frank Pavone told reporters that he will seek incardination in another diocese following Bishop Patrick Zurek’s decision to end the priest’s ministry outside his diocese. 

Speaking at a press conference before he celebrated Mass at Amarillo’s cathedral, Father Pavone said that “I do not foresee myself staying incardinated in Amarillo.” 

“It’s a sensitive issue,” he added. “We’re working it out behind the scenes. But I say that in light of the bishop’s apparent unwillingness to let me do pro-life work full time, I will seek that elsewhere.”

Msgr. Harold Waldow, the diocese’s vicar of clergy and moderator of the curia, said that Bishop Zurek has extended his financial inquiry beyond Priests for Life to two other organizations associated with Father Pavone: Rachel’s Vineyard, which offers healing to women who have abortions, and the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, a lay association. 

“I’m sure that our bishop does not stand alone on this,” said Msgr. Waldow. “He is in a community of other bishops who have had the conversation also with the Holy See in Rome, asking questions as to ... what is being done with the monies. I think Rome has been quite clear the bishops of the United States need to exercise more prudential guidance and governance over the patrimony of the Church.” 

“This is patrimony of the Church,” he added. “It belongs to the Church. People give their money over the understanding that it goes to the Church or Church auspices and programs and ministries.”

Msgr. Waldow noted that Father Pavone remains a priest in good standing. “I must say every time I’ve had conversations with Father Frank and asked him to do whatever the bishop might be requiring ... he’s always been very positive in his response,” he said, adding that Bishop Zurek and Father Pavone both have “very strong personalities.” 

Meanwhile, a pro-life organization known for displaying large, graphic photographs of aborted unborn children announced that it will picket parishes in the Diocese of Amarillo in an effort to pressure Bishop Zurek to rescind his decision. 

“Pickets will be conducted at many of the diocese's 49 parish churches, with special emphasis on St. Laurence [the diocese’s former cathedral] and the nine other parish churches in the City of Amarillo proper,” Gregg Cunningham of the Center For Bio-Ethical Reform said in a press release. “Street pickets will be supplemented by the operation of a fleet of large billboard trucks bearing signs which will also depict aborted babies and urge Amarillo Catholics to tactfully contact Bishop Zurek to request that he ‘free Father Frank.’”

“The trucks will be accompanied by aircraft towing large aerial billboards which will also bear aborted baby imagery and exhortational text messages,” added Cunningham, who has been a longtime ally of Priests for Life. “These pickets will continue until Bishop Zurek releases Father Pavone from what amounts from ecclesiastical ‘house arrest.’”

Comparing Bishop Zurek’s decision to “the Star Chamber proceedings employed by Ferdinand and Isabella during the Spanish Inquisition,” Cunningham said that “for decades, senior Catholic clerics have hindered efforts to protect the safety of school children. Apparently learning nothing from this appalling lapse, a senior Catholic cleric is now hindering efforts to protect the safety of unborn children. This indiscretion is no less scandalous.” 

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