We can all get caught up in our own problems, problems of society and problems of our world — very real or very imagined. September 6th Fr. Frank Pavone of the Diocese of Amarillo , Texas was recalled by his bishop, Bishop Patrick J. Zurek to his home diocese. Fr. Pavone had permission to engage in apostolate outside his diocese in the form of Priests for Life , a worthy pro-life organization based in Staten Island, New York.
Fr. Pavone was not to pleased about this based on reading his public comments. On September 16th Edward N. Peters, JD, JCD (civil and canon lawyer) responded to some of Fr. Frank Pavone's public comments with clarity and in a ways that we can all take to heart.
Pavone: Well, friends, here in Amarillo I am working hard at my computer on various pro-life projects as I await further instructions from the diocese. Nothing yet…
Peters: Nothing? What’s that mean? Does a young, healthy priest, in his home diocese, with full faculties for ordained ministry therein, really need to be told what to do with a large, unexpected block of time? If so, I have some suggestions.
Besides engaging in the “period of prayer and reflection” to which you were directed, how about offering to cover some masses for your over-stretched diocesan brothers who are saying two, three (and, shhh!, sometimes four) masses a day for the local faithful? Or how about slipping, a la John Paul II, into a parish confessional for a few extra hours each day to tend whatever souls God might send you? If the liturgical or sacramental work of a secular priest is not your forte, maybe you could visit your elderly and infirm brothers, or fill relief boxes at a community shelter and share some moments with people in need. Would the daily grind of tending souls ransomed by Christ, but at such grave risk in this world, be such a poor use of your time?
Pavone: [It’s distressing to have to endure] disruption to a mission which is at the core of my life.
Peters: Stop. Something is seriously askew here. Nothing, not even the most visible (and arguably the most effective) pro-life work in the world, is at the “core” of any priest’s life; nothing is there, besides the High Priest Jesus Christ. That is no pious platitude. For any priest, religious or diocesan, to assert before the world that anything is at the core of his life besides the Son of God is very disturbing.
Pavove: Tears, sleepless nights, anger, righteous indignation – this and more come to me each day because something is happening to the youngest members of the human family.
Peters: Forgive my impatience, Father, but I don’t see anything in this litany of woes that can’t be claimed by virtually every conscientious Christian parent trying to raise children in this wicked age. And nothing in this list has not been endured by every normal adult who, in his or her own way, is trying to make the world a better place, often in the face of appalling injustices (one of which, to be sure, is abortion, and most of which aren’t) but with much less freedom and far fewer resources than you have been blessed with. The vast majority of such folks, however, don’t go around blogging about it. They just quietly do the best they can with what they have.
Dr. Peter's response to is worthy of study and, in my estimation, should be taken to heart by all. We all need good and prudent direction so we can be enabled to give good and prudent direction to others. The full text can be found on Dr. Peter's blog In The Light of The Law