As Canonical Advisor to Fr. Frank Pavone and Priests for Life, I have, on numerous occasions, communicated on their behalf with Bishop Patrick Zurek, asking for a mediator as a first step in restoring trust and facilitating healing in the relationship between the bishop and his priest. I can attest that Fr. Pavone is eager to restore with Bishop Zurek the trust and communication that should exist between any priest and his bishop. Fr. Pavone remains in Amarillo as directed by his bishop, and remains faithful and obedient.
The details and history of the present situation are such that moving forward to a resolution is no longer simply a matter of getting together and talking. Several Church officials have made it clear that they believe mediation is necessary, and that they are willing to undertake a role as mediators. Unfortunately, Bishop Zurek has not responded to or even acknowledged any of these requests.
Instead, he wrote to Fr. Frank, asked him to come to a one-on-one meeting with him, and asked him in writing not to speak to anyone about the meeting. Then, the next day, before Father Frank even had an opportunity to respond, the Bishop announced the meeting on the front page of the website of the Amarillo diocese.
As his canonical consultant, I advised Father Frank not to have this private meeting until the process of mediation is underway. All of us want this entire process to be carried out in private rather than through the media. He remains hopeful and prayerful that the bishop will respond privately to requests made of him, and that this situation will be resolved shortly in a truly Christian and ecclesial manner. I ask all to respect Father’s prayerful wishes in this regard.
Reverend David L. Deibel, JD, JCL