Temporary Amarillo Priesthood?

From CNS today, I’m not sure what to make of Fr Frank Pavone’s quote:

I fully expect that my time in Amarillo, both in terms of this immediate trip and in terms of my affiliation with that diocese is going to be temporary.

Fr Pavone’s bishop has questions about thepriest’s management of a financially lucrative operation.

I sure hope we’re not going to land in Corapiville on this one. A few observations:

– Lay ministers are free agents. Bishops don’t provide for us. Pastors do, and at their own initiative. We are free to move anywhere, work anywhere the Church will have us serve.

– Diocesan clergy are not free agents. They answer to a bishop, work with their brother priests, and serve the people of their assignment. I don’t know how to get around that and maintain integrity. If a movement is political, a lay person should be in charge.

– A priest-member of a religious order is answerable to his community.

In which category does Fr Pavone fit?

I don’t understand what appears to be a lack of integrity in a statement that essentially says, “I’ll obey, but I’m not long for greener pastures.” Isn’t this Fr Pavone’s second diocese, not counting some religious order he once formed?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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12 Responses to Temporary Amarillo Priesthood?

  1. ajesquire says:

    My take, reading between the lines of the Bishop’s letter, is that there are probably credible allegations and/or circumstantial evidence that Pavone is using PFL donations to help bankroll GOP candidates (which may or may not call into question the tax-status of the organization).

    Pavone and PFL have apparently obstinately refused to share their financial information with his Bishop, and prior Bishops, and then lawyered-up in response to the most recent requests.

    This sounds a lot like NOM’s refusal to reveal their financial supporters.

    And Pavone does seem quite Corapi-like in his celebrity-priest sense of entitlement and superiority to his own Bishop.

    This should be interesting.

  2. John Drake says:

    Your “temporary priesthood” headline appears to be a deliberate attempt to distort this situation. Fr. Pavone has indicated in an interview available on the ‘net that he may seek incardination in another diocese. He has given no indication that he might leave the priesthood, as you headline suggests.

  3. Todd says:

    I’ll change it, then. Thanks for the tip.

  4. Liam says:

    I do so love bishop shopping. Maybe the bishop of Velletri-Segni will oblige.

  5. -1, KLS.
    Why the gist of the sarcasm is regretably true, situations such as this, Corapi, Mother Angelica v. Alabama ordinaries, the Cdl.Winning saga, etc., continue to show us the hounds of hell run free, wild and slobbering towards new priestly targets.
    Yeah, I and we know this dysfunction is systematic, and has been for millenia. But picking at the wound just keeps it festering.
    We are called to repentence and prayer for ourselves and our priests, more than ever.

  6. Todd says:

    One of the difficult things that we all avoid–and I count myself in this for tasks I really would rather not do–are making things clear from the very beginning when we’re not sure of the potential outcomes. We hope, perhaps, something will turn out well. I count that less as demonic dogs, and more just simple human failings. Sometimes not even sinful. Just vagueness, and in the deal north Texas got a charismatic priest for a return that was unclear, perhaps.

    Fr Pavone is a talented and charismatic guy. The previous Amarillo bishop likely gets pitched to have this guy incardinate there, and what’s he going to think? Even if we got him a few weeks a year, the bishop muses, better than him going to Tyler or Victoria or even V-S*. I suspect too there’s some blowback from Corapi–the celebrity-priest may not be such a good peacock to have in one’s aviary.

    Clearly there should be *some* leeway in the ministry of a diocesan priest to allow a guy to serve in an optimal way.

    On the other hand, bishops can show more spine when “negotiating” arrangements like this. Having a backbone isn’t always about staring down the president of ND. Sometimes it’s managing one’s diocese effectively. I’d rather have a bishop of a boss who sends clear but occasionally disagreeable signals, than a guy who wants to make everybody, including the peacocks, happy.

    * Need I ask?

    Charles, thanks for sticking up for matters at CMAA this week.

  7. FrMichael says:

    No clue here about whether PPL is above board in fiancial transparency, whether the bishop’s concerns have a factual basis, whether Fr. Pavone’s statement is correct, etc. I wish this were being handled privately, in the realm of accountants going over accounts, rather than in the Catholic blogosphere and priests.

    I don’t know why Fr. Z would be brought up in this thread. AFAIK there is no impropriety connected with his incardination or his residence. His situation is not the norm but it is neither uncommon nor improper. My own diocese has several priests living and sometimes serving outside of our diocesan boundaries without taint (once again AFAIK) of impropriety.

    Last thing: in the diocesan priest sub-culture the norm is parochial ministry. Most of us want to be parish priests and never seriously considered anything but parochial ministry. I certainly fit into this camp. Over the years I have observed a bit of envy arise among the brethren when a diocesan priest steps out of the norm, be it to a chancery assignment, advanced studies, retreat work, seminary professorship, some secular notoriety (in a good sense), etc. I can imagine the envy the recently-incardinated priest head of a national multi-million dollar organization would trigger among the Amarillo priests. I’m hoping the bishop wasn’t unduly influenced by such unworthy emotion.

  8. Liam says:

    The reason I mentioned V-S is because it’s a see that seems willing to incardinate media priests who have no pastoral responsibilities. That’s all. Nothing dark or sinister.

    For background on incardination, one can start with Ed Peter’s perspective down in this link:


  9. FrMichael says:

    Liam, didn’t know that V-S had other “media priests” besides Fr. Z. Interesting.

    Thanks for the link to Dr. Peter’s article on the canonical implications of this. I don’t think either side has acquitted itself well so far in these public statements, although the actions themselves (e.g. Fr. Pavone returning to Amarillo) seem appropriate.

    Not sure that this is the case with the readers of this blog, but most priests hold the diocese of their incardination as something quite important, probably more than most lay Catholics do. I belong to Diocese X and not Diocese Y in a more vivid sense than I think most of my parishioners think of Diocese X. They are more concerned, generally, about our parish St. Z, and perhaps the neighboring parishes A, B, and C. “Being Catholic” in the sense of being Roman Catholic in communion with the Pope is important to most. But being associated with a specific diocese is something I find more important to clergy and lay staffs than the people in the pews.

    My 2 cents.

  10. FrMichael says:

    Well, here is an atomic bomb:

    Click to access 02-16-11.pdf

    I now understand why the Bishop of Amarillo has asked Fr. Pavone to return to Amarillo. The PFL posters in my parish are coming down post haste.

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