Skip to comments.Catholic Pro Life Leaders - Msgr Philip Riley and Father Frank Pavone
Posted on 11/21/2006 10:37:01 PM PST by topher
New York City has a couple of important Pro Life leaders in the Catholic Church.
One is Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. The other is Monsignor Philip Riley of the Helpers of Gods Precious Infants.
Though both are priests, they take totally different approaches to Pro-Life. Father Frank Pavone rarely visits an abortion clinic (to my knowledge) when he is in New York City. Monsignor Riley, on the other hand,tries to go every day to an abortion clinic in Brooklyn.
Father Frank Pavone focuses on Television and Radio ministries to achieve results for Pro-Life as well as uses the Internet.
Monsignor Philip Riley focues on prayer and trying to get people to organize groups to go to abortion clinics everyday if possible and try to talk to the women/girls before they enter the abortion clinic.
Even though I worked for Father Frank Pavone, I witnessed Monsignor Riley being far more active in talking to the women at the abortion clinics.
The fruits of the two priests are different.
I am greatly impressed with Monsignor Riley. One Saturday in May, 2006, there were 14 babies saved that day and only 12 abortions. It is rare at any abortion clinic that a baby is saved (a woman/girl changing her mind and going to a CPC for help).
Yet this the power of prayer. Monsignor Riley has a booklet for Pro-Lifers to pray 3 hours at abortion clinics. If one follows this booklet/book, they will pray 20 decades of the rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, sing a number of songs, perform the Stations of the cross as well as a number of readings and other prayers/litanies in the three hour time.
Father Frank Pavone, focuses on a much more worldly approach - staying at hotels, broadcasting on Television and Radio, as well as sending out email blasts. For Father Frank Pavone, information is a weapon. Politics is the way to end abortion - making trips to Washington to visit even with Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Ted Kennedy as well as other senators such as Senator Brownback of Kanaas.
Father Frank Pavone is probably the greatest Pro-Life leader in the country - ranking among Dr. Dobson and others. He is a director on the group CBR and regularly meets with other pro-life leaders.
But I personally found Father Frank Pavone to lack spiritual depth. When he travels, he tries to find the best accomdations. He rarely will spend a weekend in a rectory as a place to spend the night or even a monastery. Home for Father Frank is Hilton, Marriott, other hotels.
Additionally of concern are how few weekends Father Frank will spend in a Parish saying Mass - in New York City, Washington, DC or even on the road. His Thanksgiving Day Mass might be a Mass in the chapel in his Priests for Life building and not in a church.
Though Father Frank Pavone is a very talented individual, he rarely delegates things that can be done by other people. This means that he is often short of time, and this makes life difficult for his employees (myself being a former one). His time is considered so valuable that five or six employees might run his personal errands at a given time.
This could create a potential problem for Priests for Life and the Pro-Life Movement if he is ever taken ill for a period of time - he refuses to allow others to help with his work load.
Father Frank Pavone is a stark contrast to Monsignor Philip Riley. Father Frank Pavone would be lost without his laptop; Monsignor Riley would be lost without his rosary and other spiritual weapons.
One aspect of my concern was that when it was announced that Priests for Life would form an order of priests, I asked Father Frank Pavone if they would have a vow of poverty. The word poverty seemed to send shivers down the spine of Father Frank Pavone.
Father Frank Pavone will allows be successul. But there is a question if he maintains a proper spirituality for a priest without becoming too engrossed in worldly issues.
That is the irony of the two priests. One is intensely spiritual and does not want creature comforts and other priest seems to want these creature comforts.
Out of respect for Monsignor Riley (who is in his 70s), I held an umbrella over his head as he prayed and was talking to priests from Priests for Life on a cold and rainy day. He did not want me to do that for him, though it is my belief he appreciated it being done. Because of a bout with skin cancer, he wears a hat to protect himself from the sun.
The car that Monsignor Riley drives is a very humble car but adequate. Father Frank Pavone, on the other hand previous to ride in comfort - though he is half the age of Monsignor Riley.
I have no doubt that Monsignor Riley will get others to form groups and carry the torch for him even after his death.
Father Frank Pavone, though the greatest pro-life leader, might have problems with organization when he leaves this world or has health problem.
One is a humble, spiritual priest.
One is a successful, proud priest who is also a TV star who knows his way around airports and hotels, but may not be as familar with churches in given cities.
They provide contrasting aspects of two priests in the pro-life movement who are important leaders.
Basically, Father Frank Pavone takes a very political approach to things and focuses on money donations - he attends events such as Legatus banquets to raise money.
In the 1970s, I worked at the Playboy Mansion West in Beverly Hills. I found more in common with working with Father Frank Pavone and Hugh Hefner (both famous people) than I did with Father Frank Pavone and other priests.
If one would ask me if Father Frank Pavone was a good or bad priest, I would have a tough time answering that question.
I hope this is just me and my perspective.
But all priests need our prayers.
Msgr. Reilly is amazing. It's amazing to watch him work. He understands the psychology of every single person who comes to the clinic, and he knows how to reach them. And he always puts prayer first. And he'll tell you everything about what the Yankees are going to do later.
He's out there front and center, reminding Catholics of their obligation to vote for life.
I appreciate the spiritual depth of Msgr. Reilly. I hope Father Pavone can get back on track to his spiritual awareness.
That, above all else, will be what matters most.
I appreciate the spiritual depth of Msgr. Riley. I hope Father Pavone can get back on track to his spiritual awareness.
That, above all else, will be what matters most.
Spelling: Msgr. Riley.
Sorry about that!
What a shameful little piece of innuendo.
It's easy to see which priest is considered the greater threat by "the accuser."
I wonder why you post this? Under 'speaking the Truth in love?' I don't believe it is that. Is it to get back at a man you worked under who wouldn't honor you? Is it Christ's calling to write this slander? Just a challenge -- I find it NOT uplifting nor edifying.
I was just speaking to my friend on the phone re: Msgr. Riley. He is also a Latin scholar and I thought of asking for his help on something... but you and I know, he's very busy.
Fr. Frank I miss, I guess since they set up in Texas, I will not get to see him as much here in NYC, saying Mass for us at Holy Innocents or other parishes and talks. But I met the new layman at a function here two months ago... outstanding.
They both are great for the pro life cause, and help in the persecution the CPCs are going through in this country.
interesting take on two priests fighting in the war for life.
Fr. Pavone is a visible, widely known political leader. Although I've met him, I don't know him well - although he's certainly a faithful correspondent. He seems to write my wife or me nearly every day LOL. But the truth is that part of his job is to raise funds. As part of that job, he needs 24 hour a day access to cell phones, fax machines, and the internet. His job is raising awareness among men, and as such he must live in the world. He is known by virtually all practicing Catholics. He puts a face to a pro-life priest. And sadly, we all know priests who are not pro-life. Mercifully, those priests are not as well known as Fr. Pavone.
I know Msgr. Riley, but really, how many active Catholics know of him? Of course, it doesn't really matter who knows Msgr. Riley - his work is in the trenches.
Each man, in his own way, has saved countless babies. And isn't that really the goal?
It is more concern for the spirituality of Fr. Pavone that is one aspect. If Father Frank allows his spiritual life to decay, then that would mean trouble for the pro-life movement. Has he? In my opinion yes.
On the other hand, Monsignor Reilly constantly focuses on his spirituality. And it is Monsignor Reilly who wants Pro-Lifers to focus on prayer.
In 2001, Cardinal Egan recalled Father Frank Pavone back to Parish life. There was some discussion about this, and basically it centered around Father Frank Pavone continuing to work with Priests for Life and yet help the Archdiocese of New York.
A compromise was arrived at: Father Frank Pavone could continue to work at Priests for Life. The only condition was that if Father Pavone was in New York City for the weekend, he said masses at a Parish (St. Roch's) on the weekend.
That ended when it was announced about the relationship with the Diocese of Amarillo, Priests for Life and Father Frank Pavone.
But Father Frank Pavone does not have a Parish associated with him. I have driven Father Frank to the airport on a number of occasions. There is one point where a Catholic church is passed. I would often make the sign of the cross in passing. I never saw Father Frank ever acknowledge that this was a Catholic Church we were passing or see him acknowledge the True Presence of Jesus in the Church.
I have received a blessing from Monsignor Reilly (correct spelling) on a number of occasions. It is his habit to bless the pro-lifers at the abortion clinic when he goes there (any abortion clinic).
Even though I drove Father Frank to the airport at very odd hours and did a number of other tasks outside work, I never remember Father Frank ever blessing me or other Pro-Lifers except at the end of a Mass that he said that was attended by the employees of Priests for Life.
However, Father Frank Pavone is an excellent leader and probably the greatest Pro-Life leader in the United States.
It is my concern for his spirituality that I wanted to express.
Another example was something the media pointed out at the time of the death of Terri Schiavo: the media said that Father Frank should have been a peace maker.
In retrospect, because of the heated emotions of the Terri Shiavo case, maybe Father Pavone should have tried to be a peace maker and yet point out that in memory of Terri Schiavo people should strive to avoid such situations in the future. It might have been easier, in retrospect, on the Schindler family, to have buried the grudge with Michael Schiavo as soon as possible.
This would have brought Bob and Mary Schindler to peace sooner. Unfortunately, the Schindlers were pressed to talk to the media and others after the death of Terri. The Schindlers were invited to speak at the Atlanta Eucharistic Conference just a couple of months after the death of Terri.
If I were Father Frank Pavone, I would have advised the Schindlers NOT to make the conference and try to get on with healing. That would have given the Schindlers more time to express their grief in private.
My greatest concern is to bring concern about Father Frank's spirituality (if indeed it is a problem). There may indeed be a plank before my eye that blurs my vision. One problem I had at Priests for Life was that it was very difficult to maintain one's own spiritual life. A minimal amount of time was spent on prayer at the Staff Daily meeting, and even if there was a Mass in the Chapel at Lunch, employees were not allowed ANY flexibility - such as working additional time after normal work hours to go to Mass and then have lunch afterwards.
Another example of my concern for Father Frank is a column that he wrote during the 2004 Election, entitled the Ratzinger Fiasco.
This title is misleading and sensational - seeming to imply that Cardinal Ratzinger's letter was a fiasco for the Church.
Was it? And why chose a title that might harm the reputation of Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict)?
A more appropriate title might have been Media distorts Ratzinger Letter or Media Attacks Catholic Church because letter by Cardinal Ratzinger which in point of fact the column was about (the secular media distorting a letter written by then Cardinal Ratzinger).
I saw an incident at Priests for Life where Father Frank Pavone treated a priest in such an unprofessional and shameful way in front of all the employees of Priests for Life. It was totally uncalled for and I was appalled by what I saw what Father Frank do to a fellow priest in front of the entire Priests for Life organization. The priest was someone who was Father Frank's elder by over 20 years in terms of ordination and age.
Too much of what I saw at Priests for Life was the work of King Pavone and not Father Pavone. He was a king who shoot the messenger of bad news. He had to have things done his way. The incident with the priest was not the exception, but in my opinion repeated over and over again. Father Frank Pavone made it a very hostile work environment because of how he wanted things done.
That priest could and would have worked at the Priests for Life headquarters in NYC Office if not Father Frank Pavone and politics at the NYC Office.
Additionally, I felt that Priests for Life was on the verge of growing from 7 priests to 12 last June/July. Instead, Priests for Life apparently lost a good priest and a number of priests did not join for whatever reason. Today, Priests for Life is at 6 priests (Father Frank Pavone, Father Peter West, Father Denis Wilde, Father Walter Quinn, Father Jim Heyd, Father Giacomo Capeverde, and Father Dennis Weber. They lost Father Mark Clarke this year, and I do not know the reason. He was a young priest who I admired his spirituality.
Father Frank Pavone is the greatest pro-life leader in the United States in my opinion, but if his spiritual life has fallen in disarray because of spiritual attack or other reasons, then that is a concern to pro-life Catholics.
If I were Father Pavone and traveling, I would find a good monastery if possible in the area to stay and not a hotel. Or the rectory of a strongly pro-life priest in the area.
He's out there front and center, reminding Catholics of their obligation to vote for life.
Yes, I agree with that.
Sometimes Father Pavone is off the mark when it comes to Catholic teaching. He seems more political than religious and it's okay to debate/discuss that.
But it does seem like you posted this to spite him and cause scandal. It would've been better to let Father Pavone know your objections directly or at least let him know what you consider public perception to be and leave it at that. Catholics can judge his work for themselves.
As for the little time allotted to praying on the job, I'm sure that you weren't hired to pray - in fact, you were probably hired to work. Those who want to pray full-time usually join a religious order or they retire from work and spend time praying. Still others work full-time and pray on their own time.
In short, the 2 priests have different charisms. I'd like to see Father Pavone refine his approach; but unless one is defecting a criminal organization, it is not honorable to cause scandal like this, especially under a pseudonym.
For those who are interested, there is a beautiful article on Msgr. Reilly at http://clmagazine.org/backissues/2006janfeb_27-29meetthehelpers.pdf
I know Msgr. Reilly very well. He is the most humble and spiritual priest I've met in my entire life. His method of changing hearts is unbeatable. The Helpers of God's Precious Infants work worldwide through prayer. Msgr. doesn't do any fund-raising. He only raises up followers of Christ, everything else falls into place. Please pray for this most holy man and champion for life.
I hope and pray for Father Pavone. He's been out there for a long time. I am not sure what the intent this writer had in mind, but it doesn't seem good.
I often think there's more behind the messenger than what we know.
topher, not directed to you. This is for the person who wrote this article
I just wanted to make a general defense against this Fr. Frank bashing. The man does not stop working. Day and night. This is the reason why he likes hotels because they are far more set up to be offices and produce work from rather than a rectory. In rectories, there are constant interuptions from people who want to hear his stories or views. In hotels, this is not so much the case.
As for the car he drives, it’s a 10 year old Honda Accord.
Comparing the two as opposites is not fair. If it was only done Msgr Riley’s way, he will be in front of the abortion clinic saving babies until the day he passes. His successor will also be standing in front of the abortion clinic until he or she passes. I’m not knocking on this approach. I’m just saying that this movement has many niches that need to be filled and active. Msgr Riley can work on saving the people entering a building, Fr. Frank can help shut the buildings down.
Fortunately, prayer doesn’t cost a thing so Msgr Riley does not have to focus on bringing in donations. Changing laws and traveling the country to rally and invigorate pro-life leaders and parish pastors, speaking at conferences and all the parishes that I know he does, as well as paying the staff of Priests For Life, like the person who wrote this article, costs money. It costs a lot of money. Pay for the jet that brought Baby Joseph to America costs a lot of money. The technology that drives the email blasts as well as the staff involved in sending out a blast costs money. The highly skilled staff members who delegated with the Canadian hospital as well as searched for a suitable hospital in the states, guess what, they don’t work for free. They aren’t priests.
I wouldn’t bring a laptop with me to sidewalk counsel and I wouldn’t bring rosary beads with me to visit Hilary Clinton.
Fr. Frank Pavone, from what I know, encourages his staff to go to mass as often as possible because that is where they will find the strength to keep chugging along. From what I hear, he even holds mandatory all-staff masses. I heard he takes a head count, not publicly.
To make a further comparison as members on the same side, Fr. Frank is the Paul Revere and Msgr. Riley is like a sergeant. Msgr. Riley is the guy on the ground with a rifle who kills 15 to 20 (continuing with the army analogy), Fr. Frank is the guy in the lab designing bombs that destroys enemy cities.
The biggest difference between the two? Fr. Frank is mean and harsh and an introvert. Being the introvert that he is, he’s socially awkward and incapable of relaying gratitude of good work without instant awkwardness. He is NOT a ‘pat on the back’ kind of guy. Most people look for that, don’t get it, and cry about it. Msgr. Riley is far more easy to get along with. Plain and simple. It’s likability. Fr. Frank might be great behind a podium or lectern and even good with strangers, but overreacts with mistakes and rarely dishes compliments. This is not to say that he isn’t capable of gratitude. Just, he isn’t great at showing it or even expressing himself and how he feels. Point A to point B and that’s it. Msgr. Riley on the otherhand, is great at showing it.
Raise your hand if you have never met a mean priest. Trust me, there are plenty of them around. But don’t confuse that with lack of spirituality.
Monsignor Reilly never allows that to happen...