Father Pavone: A Rush to Judgment
Friday, September 16, 2011 - By Judie Brown

Washington, D.C. (16 September 2011): The following statement was issued today by Judie Brown, president of American Life League:

After erroneous media reports surfaced that Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests of Life had been suspended by his local bishop and accused of wrongdoing in running the pro-life ministry, his many supporters rushed to his defense.  Statements and counterstatements became media brushfires in pro-life circles as pro-abortionists and anti-Catholics rubbed their hands in satisfaction.

The problem, now mostly lost in the rush to judgment of who has unjustly accused whom of what, is that Bishop Zurek never suspended our friend Father Pavone nor accused him of any actual wrongdoing.  Further statements from Monsignor Harold Waldow, vicar of clergy for the Diocese of Amarillo, emphasizing that Father Pavone is not “being charged with any malfeasance or being accused of any wrongdoing with the financial matters” have not quieted calls for action regarding some unfair conspiracy against a respected pro-life leader.

In witnessing the general reaction over the last few days concerning the situation in Amarillo, I have been struck by the failure of many involved to recognize that this is not a political situation involving some person in an elective office, but is, instead, a matter of a Catholic bishop and a priest within his diocese.

The diocese has made it clear that it is not accusing the priest of any wrongdoing but is exercising its ecclesiastical obligation and prerogative to ask one of its priests to come back to the diocese for a time to deal with some questions the diocese has. 

Having known Father Pavone for many years and, in fact, having helped launch the nationwide operation of his pro-life ministry, I have always respected his work for the babies and I continue to do so.

As founder of one of those “other” organizations to which Fr. Pavone referred that have “sometimes been critical of the Church hierarchy or other institutions within the Church,” I am aware perhaps more than most how a misconstrued statement or criticism can take on a life, and path, of its own.

I ask that all pro-lifers show the respect that the office of the bishop deserves and refrain from creating a public spectacle filled with demands, letters of condemnation, demonstrations, or other efforts to create public pressure for a secular solution to what, in the end, is a Church matter.

This is a time for prayer: prayer for the bishop, prayer for the priest, and prayer for the babies. I ask the entire pro-life community to put aside secular action and join me in praying for a speedy and just resolution.

A rush to judgment can run in both directions.


Media inquiries, please contact Paul E. Rondeau at 540-659-4942 or


American Life League, the oldest national Catholic pro-life organization in the United States, was cofounded by Judie Brown in 1979. Appointed twice by Pope John Paul II and again by Pope Benedict XVI to the Pontifical Academy for Life, she will release her twelfth book, The Broken Path, this October. For more information, please visit http://www.ALL.org or call 540-659-4171.
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Michael A. Demma | 2011-10-10 17:24:36
Bravo ALL. A great response. So much better than our brother Mark Crutcher put out. Pray for the Bishop, Pray for Father Frank.
Tess | 2011-09-19 15:12:59
Amen. Let's pray on it and wait........... Tess
Betsy Parker | 2011-09-19 10:38:00
I receive mailings from the Priests for Life organization, and I believe Father Frank Pavone is doing a great job trying to save the babies.
mary tim crowley | 2011-09-19 03:49:42
Thank you for oiling the choppy waters (we go out in a boat sometimes). Padre Pio had to undergo a period of sanction and came out Saint Padre Pio after it. Let's hope we get St. Fr. Pavone too one day. I think the Fr. Euteneur and Fr. Corapi situations followed by Fr. Pavone has to have put many pro-lifers on edge and that would add to the heightened conspiracy hysteria . I certainly thought that when I first got wind of this. So, as you suggest, pray and keep going pro-lifers.
Joan Pernicano | 2011-09-18 20:57:07
I appreciate that Judie wants to remain fair and respectful to Bishop Zurek, but I urge her and others to read Bishop's Zurek's letter to his brother bishops and then decided whether or not he was fair and respectful to Fr. Pavone.
Lydia Jewell | 2011-09-18 18:22:03
I have only seen personally how Fr. Pavone has acted in a wonderful Pro-life manner. Fighting abortion and end of life situations. I hope all will be resolved and publicly stated to counter attack the news media who are always against the Catholics.
Gayle Gdovin | 2011-09-18 18:02:38
I have no doubt that Fr. Pavone and Priests for Life are a victim of over aggressive scrutiny. I am sure, like a few other conservative Catholics of late, some are looking for any way to discredit them. I hope this does not slow down your ministry one bit.
Jeff McFarlane | 2011-09-18 15:21:37
St Cathrine of Sienna gave us the example to pray and make sacrifices for the Church and the Clergy because we have one Lord and he loves us all.
Herb Zischkau Jr | 2011-09-17 17:54:43
Judie, good advice! When I saw the first email asking me to sign a petition my reaction was let us have some facts first. I will join you in prayer for all concerned including the anti-life forces.
MARGO ROSA | 2011-09-17 15:02:57
Thank God I have not heard of this spoof going on and dont want to know...i agree that this doing is probably something that became so twisted by certain people and became a large lie. i love Fr. Pavone for all he gave for our babies and i am sure he will be with all the saints one day... Godbless you, Margo Rosa
Barbara Patterson | 2011-09-17 11:47:17
thank you for some clarification! we all love Fr Frank Pavone and are proud of the work he does. Standing with a priest on the front lines of the "culture of death" is a blessing from God! We pray for Father and his Bishop!
Cory | 2011-09-17 11:46:41
While I understand your point of view, and without judging the bishop's motives, his BEHAVIOR in asking his brother bishops to warn the faithful to withhold funds from PFL is outrageous. Has not the bishop rushed to judgment and encouraged others to follow? The bishop is the one who chose to send his whining, unprofessional and uncharitable letter with his ad hominem attacks on Father Pavone. Both are and have been in my prayers, but it is incontrovertible that the bishop has acted in a most disgraceful fashion.
Analee Tegeler | 2011-09-17 10:48:23
Thank you Ms. Brown, for your levelheaded response to this possibly volatile situation.
Albert Maslar | 2011-09-17 10:10:33
I don't know the facts behind the action of Bishop Zurek against Father Pavone but I do know that American Bishops as a group are guilty of dereliction of duty by their inaction and sweeping under the rug, the atrocities of predator sexual deviant priests under their jurisdiction, and nearly bringing down the Church in America, and in the process causing more than a third of Catholics to abandon practice of their faith, leading to closing of schools and churches. Might the Bishop's action stifling Father Pavone's pro-life mission bring to life the truism that "The innocent will be punished?" Albert Maslar 128 Huron Ave. Absecon, NJ 08201-2022 609-677-0069 amaslar2@yahoo.com
Judy | 2011-09-17 07:43:13
Amen! Everyone needs to step back and let the bishop and the priest work this out. Fr. Pavone has certain obligations to his vow of obedience to the bishop. He is a diocesan priest first and foremost. Since none of us are trained in Canon Law, we need to leave this to the Church, as you said.
Theresa | 2011-09-16 22:37:13
I can't help wondering if Obama is not behind this somehow, or that Bishop Zurek is involved in the Masons. This is very strange that the Bishop accuses Father Pavone of something out of thin air and made a mountain out of nothing. It is almost like someone is trying to stir the pro-life movement up. I read an article that Obama is going to be harder on pro-lifers. It looks like it is happing already.
Miguel | 2011-09-16 19:57:30
Judie, I’m confused. Have your read Bishop Zurek’s letter to the Bishops? Reading it tells me that Bishop suspended Fr. Pavone from public ministry outside Amarillo. It tells me that Bishop is afraid there might be moneys misused at PFL. That Fr. Pavone is giving pro-life work an undue (supreme) importance. And it tells me that we should STOP donating to PFL. The improvement in tone is subsequent statements leads me to believe that public pressure has worked. God bless!
Nancy | 2011-09-16 18:36:04
Thank you Judie for your comments.