Was this decree signed by the Pope?
Yes, and although we have not seen the decree, we know from the nature of it and from confirmation given to our canonical advisors in Rome that it was the decision of Pope Francis.
We also know he was advised that there was a more conciliatory solution available, namely, that Fr. Frank be allowed to transfer to a diocese where he could work under the authority of a more favorable bishop. Currently there are bishops who are willing to receive him.
Does this decision have any possibility of appeal?
The statement that there is “no possibility of appeal” is technical, legal language that states what we all know, that the highest canonical authority in the Church is the Pope. Among human beings in the Church, you can’t go over the Pope’s head.
But that doesn’t mean the decision can’t change. The Pope can change it. So can the next Pope.
So I will continue to ask the Pope to reverse the decision. I want to live with the same accountability to a bishop as any diocesan priest has – a bishop who will not abuse me as Bishop Zurek has done (see www.FrFrankPavone.com).
What was the reason for the dismissal?
They have no reason. For 21 years, they’ve been inventing one reason after another, and none of them have validity. Read the history at www.FrFrankPavone.com and you’ll see what we mean.
Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo, and others who are coaching him, have wanted me to be dismissed from the priesthood for years. Year after year, he failed to give me any assignment in the diocese and also said he didn’t want me working outside the diocese. I said to him in a meeting (witnessed by several others), “You want me out of the priesthood altogether, don’t you?” “Never, never,” he said in a loud voice. A few weeks later he sent me a letter telling me I should ask for dismissal from the priesthood, or else he would make that request of the Holy See.
All along this road, he used different excuses, such as my video of an aborted baby, or my support of President Trump. The Vatican dismissed his complaints at the end of 2019, but then, based on a tweet comment I made in the 2020 election cycle, he renewed his complaints. He turned the tweet, pictured here, into an accusation of “blasphemy,” because, he said, I was declaring that God was sending these people to hell. I was doing no such thing. Rather, I was getting angry and saying things I shouldn’t – a common human experience. So I went to confession and was absolved. This isn’t a reason for dismissal from the priesthood.
He also complained about my repeated “disobedience,” a claim, however, which his own Vicar for Clergy contradicted in letters to the Vatican (more on that below).
Were you disobedient to your bishop?
When Cardinal Egan asked me to take a parish assignment in New York, I took the assignment – St Roch’s Church in Staten Island. And people around the country asked him why he was taking the most visible pro-life priest out of pro-life ministry. The needs of the diocese are not the only consideration. The potential scandalous impact of a decision like that on the faithful around the country and around the world has to be taken into consideration.
When Bishop Zurek of Amarillo called me to come back to the diocese in 2011 instead of traveling around, I did indeed report to Amarillo, on the day he requested. (Meanwhile, he went to Brazil that day and didn’t even stay around to meet with me.)
When the Vatican asked me not to have a formal title with the Trump Campaign, I complied with that request and the Campaign graciously cooperated as well.
Msgr. Harold Waldow, who was Vicar for Clergy in Amarillo when I became part of that diocese in 2005, wrote this letter in 2016 indicating that I complied with all I was asked to do. He also explained that it was Bishop Zurek who was saying negative things about me.
Read in its entirety, with all the links, www.FrFrankPavone.com will show you that I have been an obedient priest.
It also raises the question: does respect and obedience to authority require one to tolerate the abuse of authority? The record shows the abuse to which I was subjected, and the steps I took, according to Church law, to protect myself from that abuse.
So I ask: specifically in what way was I not obedient?
Will you join the clergy of another denomination?
No, although I am grateful to the many religious leaders in other denominations who are willing to receive me, and I respect them highly. I will remain a Catholic, and will continue to ask for the reinstatement of my full priesthood. Nor am I interested in getting married.
What will your work be now that this dismissal has occurred?
The Board, Pastoral Team, and Staff of Priests for Life are unanimously agreed that I will continue to lead this ministry of Priests for Life. The term “Priests for Life” does not refer to our Administration, but rather to the tens of thousands of bishops and priests around the world whom we serve, unite and encourage. And most of that service is provided by laypeople, who are presenting seminars, writing brochures, and broadcasting programs.
My work, therefore, will be to continue leading the family of Priests for Life ministries as National Director of Priests for Life, and Pastoral Director of Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More. The decree of the Vatican does not take away my knowledge, experience, insights, speaking and writing ability, or network of relationships, energy, passion, and compassion which help me carry out this work.
Moreover, Priests for Life will continue to enjoy the overwhelming support of God’s people, because our supporters do not support our work because a bishop tells them to, but precisely because we’re doing the work that they would like to see their priests and bishops do.
How can people help?
There is a lot that people can do to support and help us; this is summarized at www.HelpFrFrank.com.