Washington, DC (16 September 2011): The following statement was issued today by Judie Brown, president of American Life League:
After erroneous media reports surfaced that Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests of Life had been suspended by his local bishop and accused of wrongdoing in running the pro-life ministry, his many supporters rushed to his defense. Statements and counterstatements became media brushfires in pro-life circles as pro-abortionists and anti-Catholics rubbed their hands in satisfaction.
The problem, now mostly lost in the rush to judgment of who has unjustly accused whom of what, is that Bishop Zurek never suspended our friend Father Pavone nor accused him of any actual wrongdoing. Further statements from Monsignor Harold Waldow, Vicar of Clergy for the Diocese of Amarillo, emphasizing that Father Pavone is not "being charged with any malfeasance or being accused of any wrong doing with the financial matters" have not quieted calls for action regarding some unfair conspiracy against a respected pro-life leader.
In witnessing the general reaction over the last few days concerning the situation in Amarillo, I have been struck by the failure of many involved to recognize that this is not a political situation involving some person in an elective office, but is, instead, a matter of a Catholic bishop and a priest within his diocese. [a purely internal matter?]
The diocese has made it clear that it is not accusing the priest of any wrong doing but is exercising its ecclesiastical obligation and prerogative to ask one of its priests to come back to the diocese for a time to deal with some questions the diocese has.
Having known Father Pavone for many years and, in fact, having helped launch the nation-wide operation of his pro-life ministry, I have always respected his work for the babies and I continue to do so.
As founder of one of those "other" organizations to which Fr. Pavone referred that have"sometimes been critical of the Church hierarchy or other institutions within the Church," I am aware perhaps more than most how a misconstrued statement or criticism can take on a life, and path, of its own.
I ask that all pro-lifers show the respect that the office of the bishop deserves and refrain from creating a public spectacle filled with demands, letters of condemnation, demonstrations or other efforts to create public pressure for a secular solution to what, in the end, is a Church matter.
This is a time for prayer: prayer for the bishop; prayer for the priest; and prayer for the babies. I ask the entire pro-life community to put aside secular action and join me in praying for a speedy and just resolution.
A rush to judgment can run in both directions.
In other words, if we are true pro-lifers who fight for the right of the unborn to live, then let us show the decency and courtesy the office of the bishop, successor of the apostle deserves, especially at a time when he is exercising the authority, rights and privilege that his office holds.
Let us pray for Fr. Frank and his bishop.