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News comes today from the Religion News Service that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, whose oversight of Priests for Life’s finances was welcomed by Father Pavone several months ago, has turned sour, leading Cardinal Dolan to express the same exasperation as several of Father Pavone’s previous bishops. From RNS:

NEW YORK (RNS) In the latest clash between the Catholic hierarchy and one of the church’s leading anti-abortion crusaders, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan accused the Rev. Frank Pavone of continuing to stonewall on financial reforms, and Dolan said he is cutting ties with his group, Priests for Life.

In a Nov. 20 letter to other U.S. bishops, Dolan said he did not know if the Vatican would now step in to take action against the New York-based priest, who for years has angered various bishops by rejecting oversight of the organization by church authorities and for refusing to sort out his group’s troubled finances.

“My requests of Father Pavone were clear and simple: one, that Priests for Life undergo a forensic audit; two, that a new, independent board be established to provide oversight and accountability,” Dolan wrote in the letter, which was first reported by Catholic World News.

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“Although Father Pavone initially assured me of his support, he did not cooperate. Frequent requests that he do so went unheeded. I finally asked him to comply by October 1st. He did not,” Dolan wrote.

Dolan, who had been asked by the Vatican to help Pavone restructure Priests for Life, said in the letter that he has informed Rome that “I am unable to fulfill their mandate, and want nothing further to do with the organization.”

The cardinal said he had “no idea” what the Vatican intends to do now.

In a statement emailed to Religion News Service on Monday (Dec. 15), the Staten Island-based Priests for Life rebuffed Dolan’s criticisms, contending that the group has had “clean” audits for 15 years and saying the dispute is, in fact, “about control.”

That last statement from PFL is regrettable, and one that I fear may signal a return to the smear campaign deployed against Bishop Zurek by several of Father Pavone’s supporters a few years ago. Is it really all about control? So far the bishop’s complaints have never progressed beyond the issue of accounting and accountability, so the charge about control really comes off as a smokescreen tactic to many faithful Catholics who are every bit as pro-life as the staff at PFL.

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In the last go-round on this issue, several supporters of Father Pavone mercilessly smeared Bishop Zurek as wanting to ruin Father Pavone, to wreck his ministry, of being a pawn of Satan. As many are not Catholic, it was easy to chalk much of that invective up to ignorance of the very nature of a bishop and his sacred office, of the respect and obedience due him from every Catholic, but especially from priests who register sacred vows of respect and obedience at their ordinations. What was appalling was the silence from PFL in the face of this merciless pillorying of Bishop Zurek.

At the time, Bishop Zurek indicated the nature of the problem, as retold by RNS:

In 2011, Zurek denounced Pavone’s “incorrigible defiance of my legitimate authority as his bishop” and suspended his ministry. It then emerged that Priests for Life had been badly mismanaged, running an unsustainable $1.4 million deficit and failing to make key tax filings or allow proper financial oversight and safeguards.

Pavone moved back to New York, saying he had the Vatican’s support and that he would not be cowed by any bishop. Then earlier this year, he and Zurek said they reached a settlement in their standoff and the problems seemed on their way to a resolution.

But that apparently wasn’t the case, and Pavone’s fate now seems to rest with Rome.

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So what will it be now? Will the narrative be that Cardinal Dolan really isn’t all that pro-life? That gay-loving prelate who welcomed a gay contingent into the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York! On a few occasions when I have thought Cardinal Dolan erred badly, I wrote about it. But I didn’t smear him. I didn’t impugn his motives. I didn’t encourage a rebellion against him. I encouraged him to look to the examples of his predecessors in office. And all of that raises what is really at issue here.

What does it mean to be a faithful son of the Church?

At its core it means fidelity to the Magisterium and to one’s bishop. This fidelity is required of laity as well as clerics and finds its scriptural roots in 1 Thessalonians 5: 11-13

Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do. We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are laboring among you and who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you,and to show esteem for them with special love on account of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.

In this chapter, PFL needs to strike a new tone. They need to put the “Priest” back in Priests for Life. How Catholic or priestly is it to set one’s supporters against a string of bishops? That new tone begins with respect and obedience towards one’s bishop. If the accounting is all in order, then we should get to that point. It would then become abundantly clear if “control” is at issue. That said, Bishop Zurek’s assertion three years ago bears mention again.

As Father Pavone’s Bishop, Patrick Zurek bears moral responsibility for the stewardship of PFL’s finances if there is mismanagement by one of his priests of the $10 Million annual budget, and Bishop Zurek will answer to God for whether or not he exercised his sacred office with prudence and diligence.

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What is certain from the published record is that there has been a fractious relationship between Father Pavone and several of his bishops through the years. Equally objective are the horrendous characterizations of these bishops by many of Father Pavone’s supporters. Also equally certain is the fact that no amount of anti-abortion crusading and success can justify these grotesque allegations against the bishops. Even if Bishop Zurek were a bishop who ranked pro-life ministry at the bottom of his list of priorities, this much is also certain:

Every priest serves at the pleasure of his bishop, and his bishop owes him no explanation for changing that priest’s assignment.

Who knows what other news might be in the wings? Regardless, this time around, PFL needs to change tack and get off the smear campaign. It’s a losing strategy with faithful Catholics who ask the simple question:

What would Padre Pio do?

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John Vianney, Good and Holy Priest
O holy Priest of Ars, you lived in an age of much upheaval, in a time when men turned their backs on God. Your bishop told of a parish to which he wished to send you where there was no love. He assigned you to Ars and said that you would be the Priest who would enable the people to know the love of God. Not only did you draw these people back to God, but your saintly reputation soon spread and many people were converted to a life of holiness. You said that a good Priest, a Priest after Christ’s own heart is the greatest treasure that God can give a parish. Give us such Priests!

O great St. John Vianney, once again we are living in day of upheaval. There is much evil in the word. Obtain for Cardinal Dolan the grace to persevere in his faith and never to despair. May he walk with the Lord and trust in Him all the days of his life. Obtain through your heavenly intercession, for Cardinal Dolan the grace of modeling his life after that of Jesus Christ, that his people will know the love of God. More than ever the people need him to be able to bring the world to Christ.
Pray for Cardinal Dolan and all Priests, O great Priest of Ars.

Novena Prayer: O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Cardinal Dolan and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession.
Pray for Cardinal Dolan in a special way during this novena.

Amen.

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Timothy Cardinal Dolan is my archbishop, an as such he is entitled to my respect and obedience. There have only been a couple of times where I have publicly disagreed with him and written of it. It is not bishop-bashing, but rather the strongly worded disagreement of a faithful and respectful son of the Church. As such, critique must always be balanced by prayer for the Cardinal’s intentions. This novena is that prayer. Please join each night after 8PM EST as we pray for Cardinal Dolan’s intentions. We begin…

St. John Vianney, Lover of Penance and Mortification O holy Priest of Ars, you led a life of detachment from worldly pleasures. Your meals consisted of a boiled potato each day; you slept a few hours each night. But you did all of this so that you would be able to serve God to the best of your ability. Your life was portrayed by the saying: We complain when we suffer. We have much more reason to complain when we do not suffer, since nothing likens us to our Lord as the bearing of His cross.

O great St. John Vianney, in these days when we are surrounded by so many comforts and pleasures, it can be so difficult for us to do penance for our sins and live a life of detachment. I resolve to offer some sacrifice today for the expiation of Cardinal Dolan’s sins and the sins of all mankind. Assist Father in accepting the cross God chooses to send him. May he embrace the life of sacrifice to which Priests are called. May he willingly offer his whole life to God! Obtain for Cardinal Dolan the grace to imitate the life of Christ by the bearing of His cross.

Novena Prayer: O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Cardinal Dolan and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession.
Pray for Cardinal Dolan in a special way during this novena

Amen.

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Timothy Cardinal Dolan is my archbishop, an as such he is entitled to my respect and obedience. There have only been a couple of times where I have publicly disagreed with him and written of it. It is not bishop-bashing, but rather the strongly worded disagreement of a faithful and respectful son of the Church. As such, critique must always be balanced by prayer for the Cardinal’s intentions. This novena is that prayer. Please join each night after 8PM EST as we pray for Cardinal Dolan’s intentions. We begin…

O holy Priest of Ars, your life was filled with humility. You wore an old cassock. You ate meager meals. You realized that before the throne of God, you were one of His creatures made to glorify God and praise Him in all things. You said that the first virtue is humility; the second, humility; and the third, humility. You counseled people to remain humble, remain simple and the more one is so, the more good he will do. Your simplicity of soul and your uncluttered way of life led you to sanctity.

O humble St. John Vianney, when Cardinal Dolan forgets he is totally dependent on God for everything, intercede for him with Almighty God, to allow him to see that without His Creator nothing is possible and that he must rely on God for everything. He is his Creator, who keeps him in existence at every moment. Obtain for Cardinal Dolan the grace of humility. May his life exemplify your humility and simplicity, a life uncluttered, a life totally dependent on God.

Novena Prayer: O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Cardinal Dolan and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession.
Pray for Cardinal Dolan in a special way during this novena.

Amen.

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CARDINAL DOLAN PRAYS DURING MASS EARLIER THIS YEAR

Timothy Cardinal Dolan is my archbishop, an as such he is entitled to my respect and obedience. There have only been a couple of times where I have publicly disagreed with him and written of it. It is not bishop-bashing, but rather the strongly worded disagreement of a faithful and respectful son of the Church. As such, critique must always be balanced by prayer for the Cardinal’s intentions. This novena is that prayer. Please join each night after 8PM EST as we pray for Cardinal Dolan’s intentions. We begin…

St. John Vianney, Model of Purity O holy Priest of Ars, your life was a model of purity. Your life of chastity was a source of edification to all. You said that when a soul is pure all the court of heaven looks upon it with great joy. Today we are experiencing a great disregard for the virtue of purity; it is looked upon with ridicule by worldly standards.

O great St. John Vianney, more than ever before, we need your prayers and help in avoiding sins of impurity. I ask you to help Cardinal Dolan to keep pure in mind and in body and give good example in his speech, conduct and in his faith. Obtain for him the strength necessary to combat temptations against the virtue of purity, which could lead him away from God. Unite your prayers with those of Mary Immaculate to implore God that Cardinal Dolan be pure in mind and heart and preserve him from those sins which are so displeasing to God.

Novena Prayer: O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Cardinal Dolan and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession.
Pray for Cardinal Dolan in a special way during this novena.

Amen.

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In recent videos Church Militant TV founder, Michael Voris, has ended his “Vortex” segments by stating that the time has come for an “authentically Catholic uprising.” That Michael has been calling out many of the bishops for less than stellar shepherding in the face of an aggressive secularism and the rise of an even more hostile homosexualist agenda is nothing new. Such is the case with the criticism of Cardinal Dolan over his welcoming attitude of an out and proud homosexual group being allowed to march under their own banner at this St. Patrick’s Day Parade. They will be led by the parade’s Grand Marshall, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, right past St. Patrick’s Cathedral. See Voris’ criticism in the video below:

Michael has crossed a line: A very dangerous line.

Calling for the abdication of Cardinal Dolan and many other non specified bishops, coupled with the stern admonition that the time has come for an, “authentic Catholic uprising,” has the potential to incite passions in those who might not be as stable as one would hope. Consider this line from his commentary:

“Do not think the punishment visited on you will not be of the most severe sort when you die, perhaps even before you die, if you do not change.”

Michael needs to walk this one back: Way, WAY back. At this point Cardinal Dolan would be right to wonder at the intention behind that statement. It sounds like a veiled threat.

It would be helpful if Michael operationally defined what that uprising looks like to him. What is an authentically Catholic uprising in the 21st Century?

Letter writing campaign to the Apostolic Nuncio?

Protests outside of the Chancery or Cathedral?

Withholding offerings?

Novena marathons?

Intercessory prayer chains?

WHAT???

When one poses with a sword, critiques constantly, and starts calling for authentically Catholic uprisings, it is time for some soul-searching. This is most especially true in light of Canon Law:

Can. 1373 A person who publicly incites his or her subjects to hatred or animosity against the Apostolic See or the Ordinary because of some act of ecclesiastical authority or ministry, or who provokes the subjects to disobedience against them, is to be punished by interdict or other just penalties.

Those of us who write or who have other platforms in media have a duty, in love, to offer commentary on our bishops when they cross a line. I have done so only a few times because a bishop’s authority comes down to him from Jesus, through the Apostles. That is a dread reality with which to contend. Authentic Catholic critique must always call the people to pray for the bishop, to mortify themselves if necessary for the bishop’s sake.

Calling the faithful to non-specified acts of uprising for the sake of a bishop’s soul places the souls of those engaging in uprising in danger: hence the reason for Canon 1373. It places Michael’s soul in equal peril.

If Cardinal Dolan (God forbid!) ends up going to hell, he’ll go there with his eyes wide open (as do all who end up in hell). There are more than enough of us who have cried out at key moments in his time here as archbishop. What is needed is prayer for the bishops, and sacrifice. There needs to be less bashing and more catechesis, more instruction in right living.

More humility.

If zeal for the House of the Lord causes the weak in faith who listen to Michael to fall away out of disillusionment, will he not bear responsibility for that? Regarding the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, Jesus told the people to do what they tell them, but don’t do as they do.

I’m not picking that up in Michael’s broadcasts.

It’s Michael’s shop over at Church Militant TV, so unsolicited advice is usually never an occasion of joy. However, he needs to walk this uprising thing back all the way, before something bad happens. In walking it back, Ephesians 4 contains the dynamic tension of Paul calling for purity, begging for unity, and admonishing that our anger should be without sin.

Calling for an unspecified uprising, coupled with calls for bishops’ abdications, all in light if Canon 1373 can rightly be adduced to be an example of righteous anger that has morphed into sin. It foments disrespect and disobedience, and quite possibly even violence among those on the lunatic fringe who gravitate toward watering holes for the dissatisfied.

Michael Voris is a genuinely good man who is bigger and better than that. His programming seems to have taken a dark turn and needs to reflect more of his goodness and far less of his anger, to adhere to Paul in 1 Thes 5:

[12] But we beseech you, brethren, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you,
[13] and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
[14] And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
[15] See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.
[16] Rejoice always,
[17] pray constantly,
[18] give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
[19] Do not quench the Spirit,
[20] do not despise prophesying,
[21] but test everything; hold fast what is good,
[22] abstain from every form of evil

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Photo Credit: Photo via http://www.newemangelization.com/michael-voris/discussion-with-michael-voris/

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Timothy Cardinal Dolan is my archbishop, an as such he is entitled to my respect and obedience. There have only been a couple of times where I have publicly disagreed with him and written of it. It is not bishop-bashing, but rather the strongly worded disagreement of a faithful and respectful son of the Church. As such, critique must always be balanced by prayer for the Cardinal’s intentions. This novena is that prayer. Please join each night after 8PM EST as we pray for Cardinal Dolan’s intentions. We begin…

St. John Vianney, Lover of Sinners O holy Priest of Ars, you spent many long hours daily in the confessional. People came to you for forgiveness of their sins from far-off places. Although you despised sin, you always received the sinner with much love and forgiveness.

O holy confessor of the Lord, St. John Vianney, awaken in Cardinal Dolan a sense of his sinfulness before the eyes of God. By your Priestly example, grant him a love of the reception of the Sacrament of Penance. Obtain for him the understanding that it is in confessing his sins that God’s mercy is poured out upon him and he draws closer to Christ. Obtain for him a deep hatred of sin and the grace to resist temptation. Teach him the value of frequent confession, where he meets Jesus, our Savior, the source of all mercy and consolation. Contrite and forgiven may all those with whom he comes in contact act with that same mercy. Pray that Cardinal Dolan always love the Sacrament of Penance. Pray that he may call sinners to repentance with his good example and lives in complete service to our Lord.

Novena Prayer: O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Cardinal Dolan and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession.
Pray for Cardinal Dolan in a special way during this novena.

Amen.

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