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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Another Priest with Feet of Clay? But Don't Let Disillusion Kill Your Peace!

Update 1/26/23: Several witnesses including two priests have confirmed Fr. Pavone's inappropriate behavior with women. One, Fr. Stephen Imberratto, who worked at Priests for Life from 2015-2018 described his experience to Church Militant:
"During my three and a half years at PFL, I counseled a woman who endured harassment from Frank Pavone and eventually left PFL employment over his inappropriate behaviors.

"PFL did not have a human resource department providing recourse to aggrieved employees, nor a safe, independent and confidential harassment committee... Having a general awareness of other victims over the years besides the woman I counseled, I resigned after the board, at my insistence, finally instituted an independent and confidential employee harassment committee to protect all employed at PFL against any future inappropriate behaviors."

Original Post

As more information comes out about Fr. Frank Pavone, many people are no doubt experiencing disillusion and depression!

No! No! Not another one! He's so pro-life! He saved so many babies!

Take a deep breath.

Yes, he did save a lot of babies. Thanks be to God! Pray for him.

How sad that we can't unreservedly trust our priests. I knew both Fr. Paul Marx and Fr. Norman Weslin, pro-life priests extraordinaire! I admired them both greatly. I attended two of Fr. Marx's Marriage and Family Life Workshops at St. Johns in Minnesota back in the 1970s which helped form me as a wife and mother as well as a Natural Family Planning Teacher who urged couples attending our classes to plan to have children. I rescued and prayed with Fr. Weslin, also known as Fr. Baby Doe, and interviewed him for an article once. What a good man and priest! We were privileged to have him stay at our house once and he celebrated Mass for our family.

Nevertheless, I tend to be a bit suspicious of celebrities, both lay and clergy. They have many temptations, especially to vanity, pride, and human respect. And when you look at the long list of disappointments among our shepherds...well...a little caution in relationships with these men is never a bad thing. 

I read The Pillar's article on one of the women who complained about Fr. Pavone's behavior. It has the ring of truth and it's heartbreaking to read. I sent my guardian angel to pray with the young woman's guardian angel today. Broken trust can break one's spirit, and it's clear this young woman was deeply hurt by what happened to her. 

Pavone was accused of 'sexual misconduct' before laicization
Laicized priest Frank Pavone was accused before his laicization of sexual harassment, grooming behavior, and coercive physical contact with young women.

As a mother and grandmother, I think about my three daughters and young adult granddaughters. Dads and moms certainly need to alert their daughters about warning signs that should set off alarm bells about predatory men and certain behaviors they use when they are interested in seduction. Here's a partial list:
1) If someone treats you in a way that makes you uncomfortable back away. Talk to mom and dad or a wise counselor! 

2) If someone strokes your hair, touches your face, rubs your back, etc. that's too  intimate unless you're engaged. Tell him to knock it off! Keep in mind that even with a  fiancé,  it's important to set boundaries that protect chastity.  Talk to mom and dad or a wise counselor!

3) If you are at a conference and your employer comes knocking on your hotel room door late at night, don't let him in. Talk to mom and dad or a wise counselor!

4) If your employer treats you in a particularly personal way that differs from the way he treats the others in the office, be on your guard and keep your distance. Talk to mom and dad or a wise counselor! 

And after you talk to mom and dad, report the guy if he crosses any boundaries! Unfortunately, that doesn't always solve the problem. So the next thing to do is to flee. Never let yourself be trapped in a physically, emotionally, or spiritually dangerous situation. 

Having said all that, I want to warn people about letting this type of thing spark disillusion. Most priests are not seducers. Don't jump on the "I can't trust anybody!" bandwagon. But there are certain types of prudent behavior that offer protection and should be followed.

  • Always avoid being alone with a priest except in the confessional going behind the screen or when receiving spiritual direction. If you get bad vibes, choose another confessor. What he said may be innocent, but if you're in doubt, choosing someone else is simply prudent. As for the priest, if he has any attraction to a young woman he should immediately sever the relationship. No bike rides together as I saw one newly ordained priest at our parish do in Alexandria. He ended up abandoning his vocation after little more than a year. 
  • Don't touch priests, especially if you're young. It's for their protection as well as your own. They are men after all and not beyond temptation. Give them the respect their ordination deserves and treat them with a proper reserve. Of course, you can be friends, but there should always be a certain prudent distance. The priests should exercise the same caution and reserve with young women in the congregation.
  • Joking and stories are fun, but be sure they're appropriate. What you say to your brother, might not be proper to say to a priest. If it feels like flirting, it probably is. Don't do it! There are women who set their caps on the "forbidden fruit." Don't be one of them!
  • Your guardian angel is a great adviser. Consult him often and examine situations with his help. God gave him the duty to guard and guide you in all of your ways. Take advantage of his help.
May God give us all wisdom and grace and help us to be sensible, prudent, and charitable in all our relationships.


  1. I think this is an important topic. Women really have to be prudent in the way they interact with a priest. It’s charitable to do so. It irks me when I see women, especially young women dressed immodestly, go up and hug a parish priest. It just doesn’t seem right. And other than the confessional, a woman should never be alone with a priest. It could cause scandal. I remember this happened in the parish I grew up in, and the woman may very well have been seeking spiritual guidance, but it caused gossip amongst the laity.

    Mrs. T

  2. His grooming of young women pales to his grooming conservatives to Trump. He's still doing it, too. The Ray Epps of prolife. What a way to smear Catholic teaching.

  3. Anonymous as a priest I agree with you 100%. I remember as an associate pastor, my first Sunday at a new parish after Mass I asked the pastor if he didn't see fit to put in front of the first pews on either side of the isle some type of barrier with kneeler's first so that those sitting in the first pews could kneel and second that those women young and old who wear a skirt way above their kneels one would not see "well you get what I mean"... His response was, why does that bother you, it does not bother me I see no problem... I thought Father it sure does bother me and you have young altar "servers" boys sitting facing the people and they see that... Second... Where are the husbands telling their wives and daughters to dress appropriately for Church as a matter of fact dress appropriately all the time. When I became a pastor of a parish, the first Confirmation and Graduation, I could not believe my eyes.. dresses 1 - 2 inches above the knees of the girls and they mothers were no better! The following year I introduced the Boy's and Girl's to wear Graduation Gowns for both Confirmation and Graduation...Did I catch heck from the parents, students and even the bishop. I stood my ground and won! But it sure took a toll on me... but, I did it and I hope that those students and parents in time will understand. Us priests are hit from all sides! We are dammed if we do, we are dammed if we do not!
    I must also add... When at my parish I closed off the "Face to Face" confessional... Confessions were behind the screen! This is confession and not therapy! I did not want someone to say that I did something inappropriate in the confessional. Parishioners left for other parishes for confession and complained to local pastors. I didn't care. The few that left for Confession "Face to Face" at other parishes, I gained more people who heard that I only have Confession behind the screen and they came to me.
    I am sorry for going on like this, but Satan sends his minions to tempt us priest in many different ways and fashions, and many of them he uses our own parishioners. Please pray for us priests, especially those of us who have been cancelled from our parishes. Thank you and God bless all!

    1. Good for you, Father. It is a virtuous and masculine thing you did for your flock. I am the mother to many boys and see first hand the constant barrage against impurity they are up against. It frustrates me they have to battle it even at Mass.

      And yes to the screened confessionals. It was absolutely shocking and embarrassing to me as a young woman years ago when I walked into a confessional only to find myself face to face with a priest. Never went back, found a different confessor.

      -Mrs. T

  4. I agree with your points regarding proper conduct between the sexes especially when clergy are

    Regarding the Pillar article,there are accusations. If the one woman's accusation is proven true, in addition to being another example of the dangers of celebrity, it shows that we need to train our daughters to be smarter. According to her, there was an ongoing pattern of weird behavior but she kept going back to work for him.

    Why are we so stupid?


  5. Wasn't this something that supposedly happened in 1999 or something? It piles on.

  6. "Fr." Parone and Lila Rose (and many others) belong to a group called Council for National Policy (CNP). Very shady group. The professional "Right to Life" movement is political and not to be trusted. Our nation's right/left system of government comes out of the French Revolution and it's Fr33masonic origins.

  7. I remember seeing Fr. Corapi speak once and marveling at how many women were buzzing around him like honey bees, like groupies, They're only human after all.

  8. It is so true that “celebrity status” for clergy is a very dangerous place to live. The demons are clever, and can aid the celebrity in rationalizing his/her behaviors. I wouldn’t wish celebrity on my worst enemy. Prayers for Fr. Pavone.

  9. I haven't read it but accusations are not convictions, and not proof.
    Father Pavone is a priest, and a man. He is not Christ, no matter how much good he has done, and he has. Babies are under attack, and he helps save them, so God bless him. If he has failed in his obligation to God and the church, that is between him and God, not our business. I'm a lousy sinner myself. I mean well and I try. I'm a hypocrite, I go to confession and continue to sin. I will throw no stones at Fr. Pavone, but let him work out his salvation with fear and trembling.
    We should treat priests in a special way, because their calling makes them special. I regret any hug I have given a priest, because it's inappropriate to have such close contact to men who must fight daily for chastity. Let their mom's and sisters hug them. Needless to say dress modestly. Men and women need to watch their language and their topics. It doesn't matter if they are ex-military chaplains, etc. We need to treat priests with greater respect and reverence, to help remind them they are called to something higher, even if they forget.

  10. Re: Pavone:

    Pavone has a right to his good name. Said name has been blackened by an anonymous complainant. The anonymous complainant did not accuse Pavone of rape, molestation or sexual assault. And as yet there is no evidence that the complainant has filed either a civil lawsuit against Pavone or has gone to the secular authorities with criminal charges. (Said action would subject the complainant to interrogation from Pavone's lawyers as well as a background investigation.) There is no love lost between Pavone and the Bishops yet they appear not to have not taken disciplinary action against Pavone on this matter.

    The accusations against Pavone are serious enough to destroy his good name and reputation but vague enough to to make it almost impossible to defend against.

    And, of course the big questions that the culture no longer allows us to ask is why did the complainant stay in Pavone's employ and why did the complainant wait until now to publicly accuse Pavone while remaining anonymous.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

  11. If you read The Pillar article, two women did, in fact, make a complaints to the Diocese of Amarillo where Fr. Pavone was incardinated. That seems to comply with the biblical admonition to keep things in the Church.

    Perhaps these women have no interest in making money out of this or suing the Church or bringing a secular/police complaint and just wanted to protect other young interns from this kind of behavior.

    I agree that Fr. Pavone has the right to his good name. But young women have the right to be protected as well. In today's world, many 20 year olds, especially if they have come out of home schooled environments can be very naive and innocent. I remember myself at 20 and I would have been easily intimidated by someone like Fr. Pavone.

    It's a thorny issue. But I would never encourage any of my granddaughters to intern at Priests for Life at this point.

  12. I just find the timing compelling. Fr. Pavone reportedly loses his priestly faculties, and now complaints come out. Interesting. To your point Mary Ann, about celebrity, it does bring added risk to the individual. You would have to be an extremely prayerful person, a very grounded priest, to handle the fame, the money, the dinners, the travel, and not have it throw tremendous temptation in your face. If a priest were not 100% attentive to it all, it is easy to see how it could get you.
    What a shame that we are in a place where my thought also is, at least it's a woman making the complaint. As Catholics this is a novel experience. I realize how awful that is, but too true.

  13. Two or more accusing ladies, and one in particular singled out/highlighted for making some serious complaints more than a dozen or so years ago to the Diocese of Amarillo wherein the bishop was not exactly a fan of Fr. Pavone and might be more inclined to look more carefully into such complaints. Why? Well if the complaints held true, such inappropriate conduct could also have helped Zurek put a kabosh on Pavone at that time. It appears that Bishop Zurek did not believe the complaints were substantive and/or did not rise to the level where more intervention was needed. In any case,.......

    ......What happened to the complaints and the lady's ire? Why wasn't the matter pursued in higher ecclesiastical courts or the civil courts if there was no satisfaction found via ecclesiastical measures? There is indeed some suspect timing here (that does not mean Pavone is innocent of inappropriate behavior nor that he is guilty), because if the woman was really harmed as claimed, why did she wait until now, especially when the 'Me Too' movement picked up plenty of steam around 2017 and ever since (actually started around 2003), and she could have also engaged some sympathetic ears all too willing to listen to her story whether true or false at that time?

    Again, why now? What is the specific rationale for coming forward now?

    Did The Pillar pay the featured lady anything for her story? If so, how much and why?

    Let's see how forthcoming and willing to tell the truth The Pillar really is. Wanna bet it will stonewall or claim it can't reveal this or that in terms of arrangements with various parties? Of course, other people and/or institutions investigated by The Pillar can't have similar arrangements without at least such things being written about by The Pillar as if only dark secrets are kept by those parties, and that's the 'real reason' such are not revealed.

    Also, The Pillar reminds me at times of what I see all too often with Church Militant. Like CM, it loves to throw dirt, and one of its tactics is to write about X doing some alleged wrong in this or that, but while doing so, at too many times it also brings up some things not really related to the primary story, but if such things will cast X into a even darker light via not so subtle character assassination, be sure to read all about it. Case in point: Check the article under review, and note that, in addition to the sexual harassment claims, etc., The Pillar just had to drudge up the dispute with Bishop Zurek and suggest (again, not very subtle) in no uncertain terms what a dirtbag Pavone is.....

    Why does it seem so difficult for outlets like CM and The Pillar to do some investigations that may reveal some evil that needs to be vetted/brought to light, but they frequently cannot do so without also engaging in some unnecessary and unjust character assassination wherein 'innocent until proven guilty' is to be virtually ignored whenever they are on one of their 'righteous' crusades that they believe places them above such petty morality?

  14. Very disappointing attitude display by most comments. I don’t find Frank Pavone particularly impressive, but that is irrelevant. Is there no limit time wise to an accusation. Is it 10, 20, 50 years? I keep reading of cases where the accused is dead. Let’s deal with proof, not accusations. I have no idea if Pavone is guilty of the accusations. The point is neither do most commenters. If a Preist is guilty of sexual misconduct, he should be dealt with severely, by both the Church and secular authorities. “Sounds true” etc., is not evidence without which no one should be found guilty. One on one accusations, without corroboration should not be sufficient to destroy a person. I speak as a prosecutor who has dealt with many cases involving sexual offenses. I find these offenses to be disgusting and repulsive, deserving of the most severe punishment from both Church and State. Let’s convict on proof beyond a reasonable doubt, not accusations.

  15. So quick to get rid of Fr Pavone ,so slow to get rid of actual child molesters.Its strange.

  16. Re: "It's a thorny issue. But I would never encourage any of my granddaughters to intern at Priests for Life at this point."
    January 26, 2023 at 6:06 PM under Pavone

    Of course. As a rule of thumb no young lady should work for directly Pavone or any Catholic priest or any male boss to include in the military and business.

    And back in the day Catholic priests followed this rule of thumb to an extraordinary degree; and, in so doing, avoided not only temptation but scandal.

    That being said Pavone is innocent until proven guilty. The publication of hearsay, gossip, tale bearing and stories from anonymous complainants do not constitute fair trial.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

  17. I worked as a DRE (Director of Religious Education) for 26 years and had the opportunity to work day to day with many priests. I am a married man with children. I saw that priests are severely lacking in genuine human affection. I can always connect with my wife. My kids give infinite meaning to the sacrifices I make in life. I observed that priests dont have any companion. (Duh, they're celibate.) They could only emotionally connect with their moms, sisters, secretary or lay woman from the parish. I did see them in emotional affairs. If they were physical they were discreet. It was a shame because these were otherwise devout, orthodox/conservative priests who had great formations. I witnessed them cope with their loneliness by excessive travel, expensive junkets at swanky hotels, sailing in exotic places, buying fishing that me as a church worker could never afford, binge spectating sports. About a third of the priests were gay who were always watching the boys high school swimming meets (and practices!). About a third were geeky engineer types who weren't very pastoral. I guess they just watched TV all evening. And the final third were these well rounded guys. They were great evangelists and were also skilled at the pre-evangelization necessary for outreach. These normal guys were the first to become alcoholic, leave the priesthood to get married, etc. The priests who suffered from same sex attraction eventually hit the gay bars and were transfered or left the priesthood for their lovers. The intellectuals left the priesthood they were quiet about it. Half the priests I worked with left. Why? Were they immoral, liberal, damaged types? No. They were men generous to God with servants hearts. Celibacy as a constituent element of the Latin Rite priesthood is not of God. It should be freely chosen, not mandated.

  18. Hhmm. Maybe that is why the young priest ay my TLM positively recoiled when I shook his hand as he stood by the door after Mass to greet people. I thought maybe I violated some priest etiquette or something, I am in my late '60's, so hardly any kind of nubile temptation, but neither would I frighten children. I made no such attempt again, and stand at least 5 ft away when I address him.

  19. Re: "Celibacy as a constituent element of the Latin Rite priesthood is not of God. It should be freely chosen, not mandated.
    January 27, 2023 at 9:15 AM"

    "Have we not power to carry about a woman, a sister, as well as the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?" 1 Corinthians 9:5

    Certainly loneliness is one of the many crosses of the priesthood. But are you going to allow the 1/3 of the priesthood (by your estimate) that is gay to marry? What happens when a married priest (or his wife) wants to divorce? Who supports the children of married priests? How can a married priest totally devote himself to his parish if he has a family?

    And where in scripture does it say that: "Celibacy as a constituent element of the Latin Rite priesthood is not of God"?

    Pavone was imprudent (if the reports are true) to hire a young lady to work full time in an office with him. Just as Bishop Barron has been imprudent to surround himself with young body builders to work with him. But imprudence can be replaced with prudence which can lead to holy priests who we so desperately need.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

  20. My daughter worked for PFL for a few years and says she is not at all surprised by any of this. She was in her 20s.

  21. Re: "My daughter worked for PFL for a few years and says she is not at all surprised by any of this." January 28, 2023 at 5:26 PM under Pavone
    You post anonymously citing yet another anonymous third party (your alleged daughter) opining on the original anonymous complainant.
    And in so doing help destroy the good name and reputation of a pro-life priest and organization.
    We cannot remain anonymous in the sight of almighty God,
    Kindly reflect.
    God bless
    Richard W Comerford

  22. True celibacy is a supernatural gift from God. There is absolutely no loneliness.

  23. True celibacy is a supernatural gift from God. There is absolutely no loneliness. January 29, 2023 at 8:55 AM under Pavone

    Perfect. Well said.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

  24. Susan and Richard, I don't agree with this. Loneliness is part of the human condition. Everyone experiences it. I think that may be one of the reasons the SSPX do not put a single priest at a chapel. They live in a community of brothers. In The Sadness of Christ (his last book) St. Thomas More wrote about Christ's loneliness in the Garden of Olives and on the cross. We see his lament to the apostles, "Couldn't you watch one hour with me?" Loneliness is part of the cross for all of us. Is celibacy a magic wand that eliminates it? As St. Augustine says, "Our hearts are restless" until they rest in Christ. We say of the dead, "May they rest in peace." We will not have that perfect rest and freedom from loneliness until we die and go to our true home. No more loneliness of heart there. I'm going to pray for priests today that God provides them many consolations from loneliness.

  25. I recommend "The theological basis for priestly celibacy" on the Vatican website, and also " the theology of priestly celibacy" by the late great father stanley jaki.

  26. "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Christ." Therefore, after "resting in Christ" we're not restless anymore.

  27. But don't you think that we won't completely rest in Christ until after death? Otherwise, it seems to me, we wouldn't need the sacrament of Confession.

  28. At least it was a woman. I assume she wasn't a minor. I prefer to ask the Holy Spirit for discernment. I was just studying Romans. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us.

  29. This is my last comment on Frank Pavone. I spoke to the daughter of the Anonymous mom who was not anonymous to me. The young woman who spoke to The Pillar was also not anonymous with regard to the case, since she was one of those who formally complained. Her name is obviously in the record.

    Anonymous' daughter is a young home schooling mom and I had a long conversation about her experience working with Priests for life (about three years). She knew one of the women who filed a complaint and actually left PFL very abruptly. She came in one day, left her resignation letter on the desk and walked out.

    It's certainly true that Pavone has a right to his good name, but so does the bishop who has been absolutely vilified throughout this business. Pavone has a large contingent of public supporters who are quick to take sides and condemn the bishop. Pavone has been frequently interviewed and has held press conferences. The diocese is silent.

    As I said before, I think things are more complicated than bishop and Vatican = bad and Pavone = good. Eric Sammons has a balanced article if anyone is interested.

    At any rate, I'm closing comments on this thread and I am not discussing the Pavone case any more on the blog on the advice of my pastor. I hope everyone will pray for all involved especially Pavone. I don't know whether his dismissal was warranted or not. The best thing all of us can do is pray.

    Pavone now says that he may have received notification about his dismissal but missed it. The diocese said they sent it both electronically and physically.