It Was a Temporary Thing, After All

Father Frank Pavone.jpgMy wife showed me the news piece last night of Frank Pavone being dismissed from Holy Orders. The reasons? Blasphemy and disobedience. (Which of the two is more serious, do you think?)

I hadn’t remembered he had turned up so often on this site. He even offered Neil and me a chance to ask him a question over a decade ago.

The story is receiving mixed reviews in the commentariats of news bits I read. One person affirmed he was still a priest in God’s eyes. Well, sure, but so is that person, and so am I.

Another few fussed over the “no possibility of parole appeal.” And why wasn’t he being given a hearing. I have a vague recollection of Mr Pavone being summoned to his bishop’s office in Amarillo for a discussion. But the summonee wanted to bring a lawyer. 

After his ordination by Cardinal O’Connor in 1988, Frank Pavone has had rocky relationships with several subsequent bishops. He has moved from New York to Amarillo to a diocese to be named later, and in all cases, the man to whom he owes obedience has taken exception to various things he has said or done. His organization, Priests For Life, is now housed in the environs of the Orlando diocese. Skeptics, of course, think that bishops want to get PFL’s money. But that organization is operating so far outside official channels, it’s not even recognized as a Catholic group. 

I’ve stated my thinking on activist priests before, including Frank Pavone. On one hand, I admire many activists, even those with whom I disagree politically. Activism generates heroic witness, sacrifice, and inspires new people to take the mantle of justice. Sadly, activists can often get caught up in the cult of celebrity. And that road can lead to a heaping helping of dysfunction, and even the defeat of the cause itself.

One reason why the political pro-life movement seems to make such slow progress is that the very conversion they ask of others they are unwilling to engage in themselves. It strikes me that the gulf from pro-choice to pro-life is so wide, and yet the movement from individualism to obedience should be easy enough, eh?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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