OK, against my better judgment, here goes.
The interminable Lying Debate has popped up again, thanks to a brilliant piece by Christopher Tollefsen and Alexander Pruss and Mark Shea's link to it, at which a very interesting discussion has erupted in his combox.
I wrote on this issue at length, beginning with my critique of James O'Keefe here, here and here, and specifically about the morality of lying, which I covered over the course of dozens of posts, best summarized here. It's also worthwhile to note Sean Dailey's editorial at Gilbert Magazine and the free-for-all in the comment box that ensued.
And while I don't want to dredge all that up again and make a whole bunch of Catholics mad at me, I do want to say one other thing that will make another whole bunch of Catholics mad at me.
And that is this: I think I know which way the Fr. Pavone dispute will play out.
And I don't think it will end well.
I say this not because I am criticizing or judging Fr. Pavone, who has worked tirelessly for the pro-life cause, but because if we take him at his word, then we see his actions of late are in line with what he says - and will probably continue to be.
There's lots to read on this subject all over the internet, but Phil Lawler's latest piece is a great summary of the issue, along with links to Ed Peter's excellent insights, Lawler's piece containing assessments of the financial issues involved, which have been hardly mentioned and which are the catalyst for Fr. Pavone's recall to Amarillo.
What is making me weigh in on this now (foolishly, no doubt) is Fr. Pavone sent out an email today criticizing Phil Lawler (quoting him without naming him) and painting with a broad brush the bloggers who are writing on this issue in a way very similar to the underhanded tactics used by Michael Voris. Voris, you'll recall, impulsively weighed in on the wrong side of the John Corapi scandal, and more than that, maligned all of Corapi's critics as being members of a shadowy liberal gay cabal. Vori's video is parodied here - though it's tough to parody a self-parody.
Now Fr. Pavone hasn't quite gone that far yet, but he's being unfair to Lawler and to the other pro-life Catholic bloggers writing on this issue, all of whom have expressed great admiration and regard for Fr. Pavone, who is, all the same, not beyond criticism.
Now what does this have to do with lying?
Simple. At the height of the Lying Debate this past spring, Fr. Pavone came out publicly in support of the tactics in question, of doing whatever it takes, of lying for a good cause, of consequentialism.
And many of us were willing to give him a free pass on that, pro-life zealot that he is.
But if a man says he thinks bad can be done so that good may come, that the ends justify the means, we really ought to take him at his word. For if the cause is great enough - and protecting the unborn is a great and noble cause, without question - then lying may be justified, disobeying your bishop may be justified, maligning fellow Catholics may be justified, even financial malfeasance may be justified. I hope I'm wrong, but if we look at what Fr. Pavone both says and lately what he does, the prognosis for how this situation will play out is not a good one.
And so let us continue to pray for everyone involved, especially the unborn, the true victims in all of this.