No one questions whether Bishop Patrick Zurek had the authority to place Father Frank Pavone on forced hiatus.

Good people do question whether the bishop’s decision was warranted.

That dispute aside, the bishop certainly must have realized that to abruptly and without warning bar Father Pavone from fulfilling his pro-life speaking obligations for an undefined period would create havoc among churches and pro-life groups planning and publicizing those events.

It seems to me a compassionate spiritual leader would attempt to mitigate the damage his decision caused to innocent bystanders.

One important event caught in the crossfire was the International Pro-Life Youth Conference, scheduled for this weekend, November 11-13, in Los Angeles.

Father Pavone has been advertised as this event’s keynote speaker for months.

I just learned tonight that the youth leaders in charge of the IPLYC have been attempting to reach out to Bishop Zurek to secure his permission to allow Father Pavone to attend this event, and the bishop will not respond. Here is a note I received from Rev. Jeff White, founder of the Survivors, one of the host groups.

Hi Jill,

I am frustrated and I think something needs to be said publicly.

Bishop Zurek, Fr. Pavone’s bishop, did not respond to this letter, even though it was sent twice overnight personal. He has not returned the phone calls to his office.

I find it appalling he would not be courteous enough for someone in his office to let these young people know what is going on. I know a lot of Catholics feel everyone should just be quiet but is the Bishop above just being decent to a group of young people?

I will go on the record saying his deaf ear to the young organizers of the conference and his high-handed way he has stripped the pro-life movement of one of its prominent leaders is inexcusable.

The attached letter was signed by 20 or so young people, but I removed their names since my sending it out to the public is not what they agreed to.

The letter, linked above, is both sad and infuriating. It is just WRONG for Bishop Zurek to ignore and hurt these pro-life youth. Here’s a poignant excerpt:

In fact, many people are coming just to hear Fr. Pavone speak. Every day we receive more and more calls from pro-life groups and parishes asking whether or not he will be there. We have tried to remain calm in this matter, however, we have no idea what we will do if you do not allow him to come – not just because he is our main speaker, or because we think his presence will draw a large crowd. In all truth, we simply have no idea how we will look into the face of the youth, especially those in the Catholic Church, and tell them that the leader who has inspired so many of us to act on behalf of our preborn brothers and sisters will not be coming.

You see, it is not just the conference that will suffer if Fr. Pavone is denied attendance; it is the heart and spirit of a young generation that will be broken. And not broken by the outside world, which we already know to be evil, but broken by the one institution in this present darkness where we look to for leadership, refuge and inspiration: the Church.

This is just WRONG.