Thursday, December 22, 2022


By Tim Rohr

Crisis Magazine has a solid opinion piece on the Frank Pavonne matter: THE SAD CASE OF FRANK PAVONNE.  

While upholding the Vatican's decision to laicize Pavonne on at least partly solid grounds, the author does not let the Vatican off the hook:

"First, it’s obvious we live in a lawless Church. When rules are selectively enforced by authorities, that’s not the rule of law, it’s the rule of dictators. We see countless examples of priests preaching heresies and supporting evil with no punishment coming their way. Also, the irony is too rich when a Vatican that allowed the Pachamama idol to be venerated on its grounds would now suddenly have a problem with blasphemy. It’s hard not to see this action against Pavone as a vindictive act against someone whose politics does not line up with the current regime at the Vatican." 

The counts against Pavonne were 1) "blasphemous communications on social media;" and 2) “persistent disobedience of the lawful instructions of his diocesan bishop.”

The Vatican (which is ultimately The Pope) may have erred in its apparent rush to do too much. 

In review, it appears that the Vatican clearly had a complete case against Pavonne on Count 2 only: disobedience to his bishop. 

But in its increasingly obvious penchant for lawless rage against tradition, orthodoxy, and anything that even smells of conservatism (aka "rigidity") the Vatican, apparently wishing to make more of Pavonne than required, attacks Pavonne for BLASPHEMY - and in doing so, may have generated more scandal than Pavonne. Here's why.

"Blasphemy" is an extreme charge. In the end, it's what Jesus Christ was killed for:

"Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy." - Matt. 26:65

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"Blasphemy is directly opposed to the second commandment. It consists in uttering against God - inwardly or outwardly - words of hatred, reproach, or defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward him in one's speech; in misusing God's name."

The Catechism goes on to define blasphemy as a grave (mortal) sin, and Aquinas calls blasphemy a sin worse than murder:

"If we compare murder and blasphemy as regards the objects of those sins, it is clear that blasphemy, which is a sin committed directly against God, is more grave than murder, which is a sin against one's neighbor. "  

The Vatican accused Pavonne of multiple blasphemies ("blasphemous communications on social media") but does not report what they are. 

The Vatican is typically tight-lipped about disciplinary actions against its clerics; but, if for no other reason than to avoid scandal and especially given the prominence of the accused and the gravity of kicking the accused out of the priesthood, the Vatican should have set out the blasphemies. 

But because it did not, the whole of the Catholic world is left to speculate, question, guess, and melt down into the backlash we are now seeing. 

According to Pavonne himself, his guess - since he's apparently as much in the dark as the rest of us - is either when he said "g-d damn" and/or when he placed an aborted baby on a table in his office - a table he often used to celebrate Mass on. 

If these were the "blasphemies," and Pavonne has publicly apologized for both incidents, then they hardly rise to the level of kicking Pavonne out of the priesthood. So we are right to guess at other motives, or, as Crisis Magazine opines: 

"It’s hard not to see this action against Pavone as a vindictive act against someone whose politics does not line up with the current regime at the Vatican." 

The context of Pavonne's impulsive use of the aforesaid expletive may give us a clue to what is really going on. Pavonne used the expletive in referring to a certain political party. I don't need to say which party that is. 

Ten years ago I traced the connection between that party and its near-sacramental embrace of abortion in a column titled The Hyannisport Prescription. A few years later, a more scholarly version of this sordid connection was set forth in a devastating expose titled American Catholicism's Pact with the Devil

It is a MUST READ as said "pact" has been American Catholicism's dirty "big" secret for decades and has led to many other evils, including what we now know was not just a half a century of clergy sex abuse, but the bishops' involvement from everything to a cover up to the sick activities of then-Theodore Cardinal McCarrick which occurred - at least in part - under the current pope's very long nose. 

Pavonne's undoing appears to be that he would not shut up and sit down by order of certain bishops who wanted to keep that "dirty big secret"...a secret.


As a postscript to the foregoing, the Vatican's laicizing Pavonne may have been their very worst move. As a layman Pavonne will no longer be subject to Church authority and he may well rat-out many rats now that he is free of the rat traps. By contrast, I have always thought that the Vatican did not laicize Apuron, despite far worse deeds, not because they didn't think he deserved it, but because they didn't need a laicized bishop running about the world (with the backing of his well-to-do neocat bosses) saying stuff that they did not want to be said. 

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