I was glad to read Ed's response. I don’t have any desire to drag this out but wanted to respect Ed’s careful approach and clarify a simple point or two regarding the role of lay Catholics, like myself, seeking to faithfully use the public media.
With the remarkable growth of Catholic radio and presence on the Internet, journalistic questions of propriety, jurisdiction, exercise of influence will all have to be submitted to, at the very least, careful prudential thinking. But the future looks good if we continue in a spirit of fraternal challenge and let, as Proverbs puts it, “iron sharpen iron.”
Like Ed, I do regard this as essentially a disciplinary matter between Bishop Zurek and his priest. However, when it became publicized it morphed, secondarily, into a news story.
Since it is a disciplinary matter, it would be arrogant of me to expect Bishop Zurek to come on-air and disclose his plans or defend his decision. As a news matter, however, he should be given the opportunity to make a public comment. His refusal to do so should not be interpreted as some kind of shirking of duty. I didn’t expect him to join us on-air and I certainly didn’t expect him to “defend” his actions.
His vicar, however, had made a number of public statements that Fr. Pavone was a priest in good standing and that no charges of malfeasance had been made. So I thought I should leave the door open for his participation. I've seen precedence for this over many years.
When years ago, Bishop Bruskewitz, “excommunicated” members of various groups, he authorized his chancellor to interview with me.
In the Archdiocese of Detroit, Cardinal Maida, allowed me to question him publicly regarding the problem of pro-choice Catholic politicians. Some thought that I shouldn’t have asked about any particular officeholders by name. I disagreed and asked about one particular governor by name. (Guess who?).
Cardinal Maida understood far better than I the boundaries between the public and private that needed to be respected in that case. Nevertheless, my asking of the question publicly clarifies the boundaries.
During the most intense period of the sex abuse controversy, the Archdiocese of Detroit, asked Bishop Hurley to address questions publicly with me. Ten years before when I approached the USCCB with similar questions, they decided not to speak. So there seems to be some Episcopal discretion in handling the public dimension of these largely private matters.
Back to the Fr. Pavone matter: At the time of the interview I was under the impression that Fr. Frank was entirely free to discuss this matter without, in any way, violating Bishop Zurek’s order. Given my continuing respect and appreciation for Father Pavone and the many requests for information that I had received from listeners, I thought it best for Fr. Pavone to tell his own story and speak to his own supporters among Ave Maria and EWTN listeners.
If this turned out to look like an attempt to settle a private disciplinary matter through the mobilizing of public pressure, then I regret the impression. I don’t regret, however, providing the opportunity for Fr. Frank to clarify his own handling of the matter up to that point. Nor do I regret the challenge offered by Ed Peters to clarify my thinking publicly.