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CBR Will Soon Lead Informational Pickets Outside Catholic Facilities & Activities in the Diocese of Amarillo, TX

Contact: Gregg Cunningham, The Center For Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR), 714-240-6976

AMARILLO, Texas, Sept. 14, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Center For Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) announces the imminent start of informational pickets in the vicinities of Catholic facilities and activities in the Diocese of Amarillo, TX. The purpose of these demonstrations will be to urge parishioners to respectfully ask Bishop Patrick Zurek to allow Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests For Life, to resume full-time anti-abortion ministry. Picketers will represent a coalition of anti-abortion organizations.

To ensure that the Diocese understands exactly what is at stake in Bishop Zurek's decision to "suspend" Fr. Pavone from pro-life work outside of Amarillo, CBR's picket signs will include large, color photos of aborted babies.

Pickets will be conducted at many of the Diocese's forty-nine parish churches, with special emphasis on St. Laurence and the nine other parish churches in the City of Amarillo, proper. Parental warning signs will be posted as a courtesy near targeted churches, to caution parents of small children that they may wish to attend Mass elsewhere. Demonstrations will also be staged at Holy Cross Academy to encourage students to contact Bishop on Fr. Pavone's behalf.

Although Bishop Zurek is actively attempting to discourage Catholics from donating to Priests For Life, we will not stoop to any reciprocal attempt to discourage Catholics from donating to the Diocese of Amarillo.

Street pickets will be supplemented by the operation of a fleet of large billboard trucks bearing signs which will also depict aborted babies and urge Amarillo Catholics to tactfully contact Bishop Zurek to request that he "FREE FR. FRANK!" The trucks will be accompanied by aircraft towing large aerial billboards which will also bear aborted baby imagery and exhortational text messages.

These pickets will continue until Bishop Zurek releases Fr. Pavone from what amounts from ecclesiastical "house arrest."

A global battle is raging within Catholicism between clerics who believe the church should do more to fight abortion and those who believe the church should do less. With Bishop Zurek's confused and confusing decision to sideline Fr. Pavone's pro-life ministry, the fault line in this divisive dispute now runs directly through the center of Amarillo, TX.

For decades, senior Catholic clerics have hindered efforts to protect the safety of school children. Apparently learning nothing from this appalling lapse, a senior Catholic cleric is now hindering efforts to protect the safety of unborn children. This indiscretion is no less scandalous.

Bishop Zurek has announced "Deep concerns regarding his stewardship of the finances of the Priest's For Life (PFL) organization." He claims there have been "Persistent questions and concerns by clergy and laity ..." to which "... no clear and adequate answers..." have been forthcoming.

Fr. Pavone counters that "Priests for Life has consistently provided every financial document requested by Bishop Zurek, including annual financial audits, quarterly reports, management documents -- even entire check registers! Priests for Life has been completely transparent with Bishop Zurek and any other bishops who have requested information regarding our management and finances."

Someone is not telling the truth.

Many pro-life activists are disturbed that Bishop Zurek has chosen to convert a routine personnel conflict into a proxy for the wider ideological war being fought over the Church's response to abortion. His Draconian handling of this matter is reminiscent of the Star Chamber proceedings employed by Ferdinand & Isabella during the Spanish Inquisition. Vague allegations are rumored by unnamed accusers. Bishop Zurek hints at just enough specificity to smear Fr. Pavone without granting him the information required to formulate a coherent rebuttal. We respectfully challenge Bishop Zurek to take the honorable course and publicly issue a bill of particulars, allowing Fr. Pavone to confront his accusers, refute these specious charges, and clear his name.

We also insist that Bishop Zurek immediately rescind his arguably unlawful and coercive threat, made in writing, that he would permanently ban Fr. Pavone from pro-life work if Fr. Pavone ever dared exercise his legal right to appeal to Rome any of the bishop's orders restricting his anti-abortion work. This is the same sort of bullying evident in the Bishop's written complaint that Fr. Pavone has retained "a formidable civil and canonical counsel" to defend the interests of Priests For Life in this controversy. Bishop Zurek apparently believes that he is entitled to legal counsel but Fr. Pavone should be denied similar representation.

The Guttmacher Institute currently reports that the percentage of professing Catholics who abort is identical to the percentage of woman who abort with no religious affiliation at all. These are hardly the kinds of statistics which inspire confidence in the assertion that the Church is doing enough to fight abortion.

The Church has over 40,000 diocesan and religious-order priests in the U.S. but Priests for Life has only 4 priests fighting abortion full-time. Where is the logic in reducing the numbers of priests fighting abortion by adding them to the 40,000 priests already available to celebrate Mass and hear confessions -- while savable babies are being tortured to death in the millions?

In his September 9, 2011 letter to U.S. bishops, Bishop Zurek characterized himself as Fr. Pavone's clerical "father." In that spirit, the Bishop might do well to meditate upon Colossians 3:21, which warns, "Fathers, do not be hard on your children, so that their spirit may not be broken." Perhaps contemplation of this passage should be the focus of the Bishop's oddly timed, two week vacation in Latin America, inexplicably scheduled to coincide with the date of Fr. Pavone's ordered return to Amarillo.

Activists interested in participating in Amarillo pickets may learn more by visiting www.abortionNO.org, or emailing CBR at cbr@cbrinfo.org. Please direct media inquiries to Gregg Cunningham, at 714-240-6976.