A Reader’s Thoughts on Father Pavone

So many things to write about, from my promised follow-up to the horrific murder of eight-year-old Thomas Valva by his NYPD cop father, to my recent piece on the George Santos scandal, to articles still in the works on the deaths of Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal George Pell.

Meanwhile, the ongoing controversy over the laicization of Father Frank Pavone, founder and long-time head of Priests for Life, also merits attention. While I want to take some time to formulate my thoughts on this matter, John Lando, a regular reader and commenter and a long-time pro-life activist on Long Island, has submitted the following guest commentary. These are John’s views, I will offer mine in a future post. His piece is thoughtful and thought-provoking, and I am happy to share it and invite your comments.


By John Lando

The two documents made available as the edict and the rationale for the “laicization” of Father Frank Pavone are indicative of what has gone wrong with the Roman Catholic Church. 

Jesus selected several individuals from the masses, many illiterate, for the foundation of His church on earth. He didn’t enlist bureaucrats or lawyers.  The penchant for structure and rigid adherence to rules and regulations is foreign to my image of a loving, forgiving God. His position on performing miracles or extracting animals from entrapment on the sabbath is an example. Peter, His choice for the “rock” was reported to be a headstrong individual, but with human failings. He did deny Christ even after he swore stalwart allegiance.

Without intimate knowledge of all the details that culminated in Father Pavone’s removal from the clergy, I can only express my opinion and that of many of my associates and acquaintances. In light of other actions and lack of actions from the kludge of organizations within the Vatican, Father Pavone’s treatment seems harsh and excessive. The preoccupation with title of “Priest”, the prefix of “Reverend” etc. seems almost pedantic, if not preposterous. 

Dependence on manufactured concepts like “statute of limitations”, which has frequently been dismissed or ignored, seem to be employed to enable a specific action and to justify prior inaction. Several sources have referenced the contrasting treatment of another member of the clergy who, although guilty of many more heinous offenses, has been appointed to prestigious positions within the Vatican. That individual was not confronted or punished, ostensibly because the statute of limitations prescribed interval had expired.

Like Peter and the other individuals that Jesus originally chose, the current Pope and those members of the various groups that engineered Father Pavone’s “irrevocable” sentence are mere mortals; humans. I posit that, upon serious reflection, our reigning pontiff might be convinced to recall the previous proclamations and create a resolution more in keeping with the spirit of Our Lord and His selected leader of the clergy and the entire church, “The Body of Christ.”

Father Pavone, despite his human failings, has been a bulwark against the proponents of abortion, a voice against euthanasia and a promoter of forgiveness and healing. His zeal is for causes other than corporate-like advancement or alignment with bastions of power and popularity. Although Jesus acknowledged the need for respect of the holy enclaves, He did drive the money lenders from the temple and He often admonished the Pharisees.

Published by Rick Hinshaw

I have spent the last three decades in primarily Catholic communications work: as a reporter, news editor, columnist, and for eight years editor of The Long Island Catholic; several years as co-host and co-producer of The Catholic Forum program on the diocesan Telecare channel; two stints as Director of Communications for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights; and a year as Associate Director for Communications at the New York State Catholic Conference. I also served for three years as Public Information Officer for the late Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon, a staunchly Catholic and active pro-life leader. Over that more than 30-year career, I have gained an ever deeper understanding of and appreciation for the moral and social teachings of our Church. In my various roles I have lent my voice to articulating those teachings and their applicability to the critical issues of our time. That is what I intend to do with this blog. Moreover, at a time when our political and social disagreements seem to have degenerated into constant vitriol, vilification, verbal abuse and intolerance of those who hold differing opinions, I hope that this blog can contribute, in some small way, to a restoration of respectful debate and discussion, where we can defend our beliefs forcefully without demonizing any who disagree with us. As a Catholic commentator, that is what I have always striven to do--remembering that even as we are called to stand firmly in defense of our Church, her teachings, and our right to be heard in the public square, we are also called always to be the face of Christ to the world--most especially to those with whom we disagree.

2 thoughts on “A Reader’s Thoughts on Father Pavone

  1. I agree with this essay. I dont follow Pro-life activities closely so I am not familiar with Father Pavone. I am however more than a little horrified that they would defrock a priest ( who are in short supply) over a supposed “obedience” issue which appears rather minor. Clearly either the Bishop had a personality clash with the man or Father Pavone had no idea what thin ice he was treading upon. Or both. In any case for those who are conservative Catholics this is just one more thing to add to a list of grievances, which is not good for the church overall. I think that quite a few priests have committed much more serious breaches of decorum ( Cardinal McCarrick comes to mind) and were treated with kid gloves in comparison. It would have been better and fairer to have the Bishop call in Father Pavone and lay it out. He either complied with the Bishops requests or Father would be removed from the priesthood. Or, allow the man to transfer to a more conservative diocese if one presented itself. Those doors appeared unfairly closed. Lastly, why did the Pope involve himself in an apparently minor LOCAL disciplinary matter on a low level priest such that no appeal is possible? Unless of course at some point Francis is no longer Pope and someone else can revisit the situation.I think its the lack of an opportunity for Pavone to repent and comply which bothers me the most. They might have attempted to order Pavone to an isolated monastery for several months to think things over, with the understanding that he needed to comply at the end of that time period or would be removed at that point. Having the media know about his termination before HE did seems grossly unfair.


  2. I also find Father Pavone’s dismissal without chance of reversal to be disturbing. As has been pointed out, others with more serious infractions have been allowed to continue their priestly duties. It is particularly worrying because so many in the Church who claim to be concerned about social justice have an open disdain for anti-abortion activists.


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