The probe extends beyond Priests for Life, to include two of its affiliates.
Bishop Patrick J. Zurek has demanded that the Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, produce documentation for how donations have been handled by the Staten Island, N.Y., charity’s affiliates Rachel’s Vineyard and Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, said Monsignor Harold Waldow, vicar of clergy for the Diocese of Amarillo.
Zurek has tethered Pavone indefinitely to Amarillo, cutting him off from full-time pro-life work because of a protracted dispute over financial stewardship accelerated by an apparent clash of wills.
“They’re both very strong personalities,” Waldow said Tuesday.
Pavone obeyed Zurek’s direction to return to Amarillo, arriving by plane from Birmingham, Ala., late Tuesday. But he also has initiated an appeal, ultimately to Rome, regarding the bishop’s decision.
Zurek was not in Amarillo for Pavone’s arrival. The bishop is traveling and placed Waldow in charge of assigning duties.
“I’m sure that our bishop does not stand alone on this,” Waldow said. “He is in a community of other bishops who have had the conversation also with the Holy See in Rome, asking questions as to … what is being done with the monies. I think Rome has been quite clear the bishops of the United States need to exercise more prudential guidance and governance over the patrimony of the church.
“This is patrimony of the church. It belongs to the church. People give their money over the understanding that it goes to the church or church auspices and programs and ministries.”
Questioning the finances of Pavone’s charities doesn’t mean there’s a crisis, Waldow said.
Priests for Life provided a 2010 audit to Zurek, Pavone said.
The organization posted the audit on its website Tuesday in answer to questions Zurek raised in a fiery letter sent Friday to bishops across the nation, critizing Pavone for “incorrigible defiance to my legitimate authority.”
Before celebrating a noon Mass Wednesday at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Pavone expressed bewilderment at Zurek’s claims that his pro-life group has not been financially transparent.
“We have been completely transparent,” he said. “We sent him the entire check register. I am totally baffled. … From the day he arrived as bishop (in 2008), we have been sending him material.”Though the letter specifically refers to Priests for Life, Waldow said the reference encompasses the other organizations under its umbrella.
Zurek requested audits in March for Rachel’s Vineyard, which ministers to people directly affected by abortion, and Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, a lay association for Priests for Life, Pavone said. They are not yet completed.
“Two of the major pieces of the international pro-life movement and national pro-life movement are missing,” Waldow said.
Rachel’s Vineyard is an international ministry that collected $362,057 in contributions in 2008 for its healing programs for people who have dealt personally with abortion. But the organization spent $407,474, losing $45,417 for the year and ending with net assets of $28,918, according to its tax return.
There’s much more at the link.
UPDATE: A significant quote comes near the end of the above linked article, in which Fr. Pavone indicates he will soon seek incardination in another diocese. Also, the interview with him below, from yesterday, is now on YouTube:
UPDATE II: As Fr. Pavone releases more statements on the matter, Ed Peters is continuing to update his original post on the canonical aspects of this story — and has some sharp words for the priest and his handling of this situation.
UPDATE III: Catholic News Agency has a few updates and additional details, including new statements from the Vicar of Clergy for Amarillo, and some thoughts on the situation from the Archbishop of Baltimore, who is expressing support for Bishop Zurek.