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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Call For Prudence

A Call For Prudence

I have intentionally kept completely quiet on this blog about the controversy between Father Frank Pavone and Bishop Patrick Zurek.  Father Pavone, of course, is the heroic priest who founded Priests for Life, and Bishop Zurek is the holy successor to the Apostles in Amarillo, Texas, Father Pavone’s bishop.
The disagreement between these two men is a controversy at best and does not even begin to approach a scandal.  Father Pavone has long felt a call to dedicate his priesthood specifically to the defense of innocent human life, though he remains a priest for the Diocese of Amarillo. 
Certainly these are two men with large personalities, but there is nothing wrong with that.  St. Damien of Molokai, canonized just two years ago, was a priest with a large personality who became an activist for the lepers of Kalaupapa, and could be an annoyance at times to his bishop.  Archbishop Fulton Sheen was a bishop with a large personality who occasionally rubbed people the wrong way.  His cause for canonization is currently open.
So the fact that these two men have large personalities and currently don’t see eye to eye on everything is no big problem.  They have both acted in a manner worthy of their positions.  It is unfortunate that this private matter has been made public, and mistakes were probably made allowing that to happen.  There have been unfortunate choices of words at times, but most were soon clarified.  Bishop Zurek is asking questions that are appropriate, considering there is a large private financial organization headed by one of his priests.  And Father Pavone, though he may be frustrated, has been faithful to his promise of obedience to his bishop. 
Both men, I’m sure, are doing what they believe is right, and the issue is being looked at by canon lawyers and proper ecclesiastical authorities.  Father Pavone is going through proper channels to achieve a resolution, and Bishop Zurek has not overstepped his authority.  This is an internal organizational matter of the Church involving no even alleged wrongdoing that is being handled according to canon law.  I know Father Pavone has many supporters, but we should all let the process work as it was intended to work.
This leads to the point of my article.  The part of this whole thing that I find truly troubling is that there are so many lay Catholics who feel the need to take sides, pass judgment, and broadcast their opinions to the world.  I have seen a number of articles, many containing lots of facts, but almost all prejudiced to some degree, that are filled with blame for one side or the other.  The Web “comments” are even worse.  We do not have all the facts, and yet many people feel comfortable broadcasting their judgments (emotions?) to the world authoritatively.
Why do we, as the Catholic faithful, have to take sides at all?  This may be an emotional issue, given who is involved, but we have no business making judgments on internal matters of the Church that do not even involve the suspicion of scandal.  It is not our place to make such decisions and it lacks prudence to pass judgments on those whose place it is, especially while the process is still underway.  We may hold those as opinions personally, but to publish them, as though they have any weight, is simply irresponsible.
So let us simply thank God that men of passion and large personalities have dedicated themselves to the service of the Lord.  If they disagree at times in their quest to serve God, so be it.  We can pray for them, pray for the Church, and then butt out.