CBR's plans to aggravate Fr. Pavone's problems
A group called “The Center For Bio-Ethical Reform” has decided to intervene in behalf of Fr. Pavone. I know little about CBR, but if their goal is to aggravate the Zurek-Pavone dispute, they could hardly have chosen a better array of inflammatory, indeed outrageous, methods.
“Until Bishop Zurek releases Fr. Pavone from what amounts from [sic] ecclesiastical house arrest,” proclaims a press release from CBR, its activists, carrying large color photos of aborted babies, will soon picket many Amarillo Catholic parishes and at least one Catholic middle and high school. CBR also plans to launch “a fleet of large billboard trucks bearing signs which will depict aborted babies” and has arranged for “aircraft towing large aerial billboards which will also bear aborted baby imagery and exhortational text messages.” All of this apparently meets CBR’s definition of “respectfully asking” Zurek to "FREE FR. FRANK!" and allow Pavone to resume his pro-life work outside the Diocese of Amarillo.
Really. I'm not kidding.
About the only doff of the cap to sanity I see in CBR’s announcement is its plan to post “parental warning signs…as a courtesy near targeted churches, to caution parents of small children that they may wish to attend Mass elsewhere.”
Riiiiiight, like parents are supposed to arrive at church on Sunday morning with a carload of kids and, rather than see them horrified by pictures of dead babies, pile everybody back in the car and drive to the next parish (what time is Mass there, dear?), arrive and, Great Scot!, there's a CBR picket here too!, oh for crying out loud!, where’s the next parish, honey? etc., etc. Meanwhile, just what are parents of students at Holy Cross Academy supposed to do? Drop their kids off at the next school?
Folks, this is plain nuttiness.*
I have defended, I don’t know how many times, the canonical right of Catholics to express their opinions on matters affecting the good of the Church (c. 212 § 3), and I will continue to defend the lawful exercise of that right. But what CBR has in mind is, I think, a caricature of the prudent and informed communication of views—even conflicting views—within the Church. It is, I suggest, not an exercise of the rights recognized by Canon 212, but an abuse of those rights. And, speaking of canons, any Catholics thinking about showing up for a CBR picket of an Amarillo parish or school, should read Canon 1373 as well as Canon 212.
Finally, I can only imagine that CBR’s plans in behalf of Fr. Pavone make him cringe at the prospect of being associated in the public’s mind with it. If, by chance, he has any sway with them**, now would be a good time to use it.
* There are yet more bizzarities in the CBR press release, like, say, this one: “A global battle is raging within Catholicism between clerics who believe the church should do more to fight abortion and those who believe the church should do less.” Ah, yes, that would explain the recent uptick in street fights we’ve seen between gangs of pro-life priests and Sons-of-Drinan clerical flash mobs. Of course, the de rigueur allusion to clergy sexual abuse and the Spanish Inquisition are made in the CBR statement.
** It appears that Fr. Pavone is, after all, connected to CBR. Pavone sits (sat?) on CBR's Board of Directors.
“If you want to know how to end abortion, you don't want to miss the message of the Center for Bioethical Reform and its director, Gregg Cunningham. That is why I serve with pleasure on the Board of this fine organization." Fr. Frank Pavone, Director, Priests for Life, Staten Island, NY (cut-and-pasted from CBR's website today, 16 Sep 2011).
It is now incumbent on Pavone (or better, his counsel) to separate himself from CBR's plans.
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