I wasn't, as I said, planning to comment on this matter, at least not at this point, because as I see it this is a dispute between an ordained priest and the bishop who has rightful authority over him, and hopefully it will be amicably settled. This is not a Father Corapi situation; it isn't even a Father Euteneuer situation, and thus it doesn't call for a great deal of discussion.
That's what I thought, anyway, until I read this:
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.”
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.’”
Oh, that will be helpful. Sigh.
With all due respect to Father Pavone--and I have plenty of respect for him and for his ministries--this is getting out of hand. There's more, I think, than a little touch of the "rock-star priest" about what Father Pavone has been saying in the media. Father's supporters--the ones planning to picket--are openly criticizing the bishop's actions as if Catholic bishops were notoriously hand-in-glove with Planned Parenthood, or something. Granted, there may be bishops worth criticizing in this regard, but I've never heard of Bishop Zurek being one.
The truth is that God, working through Bishop Zurek--Father Pavone's lawful authority--could call Father Pavone today to some other work or ministry for the good of the Church, the good of Father Pavone himself, or some combination of these. If God did call Father Pavone to some other ministry, that would not at all be proof that God is not on the side of pro-life ministries. Rather, it would be a reminder that all of us, priest, religious, or lay, are given a vocation for our own good, and that the work we do as a part of this vocation may vary greatly from year to year. The work, that is, is important--but it is not of primary importance. God can, and does, lead us to varying tasks and responsibilities throughout the course of a healthy and holy vocation, and no one is so indispensable to his or her work that he or she must be allowed to continue it at all costs.A wife and mother has many different works and tasks to accomplish during her years of living her vocation, and that vocation changes drastically from her newlywed days to her raising-toddler days to her mom-of-older-kids days to her empty nest days; in a sense she returns to the wifely vocation of her youth, but has the joy of being available to her children as they find their own vocations and to, if she is blessed with them, her grandchildren as well; a husband and father may traverse a similar path in his vocational life, and may also find himself leaving pleasant work outside the home for less pleasant work because the family needs this from him. A parish priest may go from being a mere assistant to an associate pastor to a pastor responsible for a parish; he may even become a bishop someday, with a whole host of new obligations. Or, a pastor, as one of mine did, may be asked to go and lead a seminary, an important work very different from administering a parish. A religious priest or brother or sister may be sent by his order to many different places and take on many different roles within the community, learning a cheerful humility and willingness to serve along the way.
Father Pavone has been blessed to be permitted to use his not inconsiderable talents in pro-life ministries he founded for many years now. If God wills it, he will be working in this field for many more years; but if the ministry is to be fruitful, it must be founded on that vocational obedience which every priest owes to his lawful superior. I do pray that this situation will be resolved quickly and amicably for the good of all involved, but especially for the good of Father Pavone and Bishop Zurek.