Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bp. Gries' letter for Fr. Pavone does not help this situation

As an example of how bishop-priest disputes should not be conducted, the Zurek-Pavone episode is, I’m afraid, the well that never runs dry.

I do not know what the outcome of the Zurek-Pavone case will be. I do not know what the outcome ought to be. I know only that, so far, almost every public action or statement by the principals in this case, and their allies, has made achieving an appropriate outcome more difficult, not less.

Most recently, I had hoped, rather against hope, that Bp. Roger Gries’ letter in behalf of Fr. Pavone would pass relatively unnoticed. But now that the Cleveland auxiliary bishop’s letter has been posted on the Priests for Life website, extensively quoted by Steve Ertelt at, and picked up by numerous on-line news sites, that’s obviously not going to happen.

Curiously*, in his report Ertelt does not quote the single most problematic line in Gries’ letter, the one wherein the bishop encourages prayers for “Father Pavone [who] is currently facing some difficult days as he negotiates with his bishop.

Negotiates with his bishop

Is that what Pavone is doing with Bp. Zurek, negotiating? Is that what Gries thinks a diocesan priest who has promised obedience to the bishop should be doing, negotiating the terms of that obedience?

Gries had, of course, every right to privately contact his brother in Amarillo and urge whatever action Gries felt appropriate; instead, Gries went public with a letter that increases partisan pressure on Zurek to “negotiate” with one of his own priests concerning that priest’s ministry!

I hope and pray that Gries' letter does not become a model for others for others in this, or indeed any other, bishop-priest disciplinary matter. + + +

*Ertelt should have noted for LifeNews readers that he was the first to sign an on-line petition at LifeNews urging Zurek “not [to] take Father Frank Pavone out of the pro-life fight . . . Saving babies from abortion is his priestly vocation [sic] . . . I pray that you will amicably resolve your differences with Fr. Frank . . .”

(Please excuse the formatting oddities that might appear in some views of the above.)

Summary of my posts on the Zurek-Pavone conflict