While the standoff between Fr. Frank Pavone and his bishop appears to be at an impasse, (and some observers still find the whole thing far too murky) the local newspaper in Amarillo takes a closer look at the financial records of Priests for Life. Some details will be familiar to those who have been following this story, but it helps put the clash in context.
In a 1,883-word plea for donations, the Rev. Frank Pavone warns of “heralds of the culture of death who seek to … use my current situation to mislead people into thinking that they are wasting their precious pro-life dollars by entrusting them to Priests for Life.”
The anti- abortion charity based in Staten Island, N.Y., over the last decade has channeled more than $1.4 million to its nonprofit affiliates, spent $2.4 million on a ministry that soon went defunct and shelled out more than $250,000 in loans to an employee and a check to an entity in Europe.
Over the same period, Priests for Life has raked in tens of millions of dollars in donations while questions over finances recently have mounted, leading to a clash between Pavone and Amarillo Bishop Patrick J. Zurek that began as early as January, almost eight months before the priest arrived in town at the bishop’s command.
Those are among the details that emerged in an analysis of records related to Pavone, his charities and Zurek’s recent decision to restrict Pavone’s ministry over concerns about the finances of the anti- abortion groups he leads.
Zurek’s scathing Sept. 9 letter to U.S. bishops announcing his decision to order Pavone to Amarillo captured headlines, but a Jan. 24 missive to the same group adds light and murk, revealing deeper roots to the conflict and raising new questions about Priests for Life’s connection to the church.
The bishop declared Priests for Life was not and never had been officially associated with the church, contrary to the charity’s assertions both before the letter and after it.
That provides another wrinkle in the thickening tension between the priest and his bishop.
The two were to talk privately Thursday, but the meeting never took place, Zurek said.
“The details and history of the present situation are such that moving forward to a resolution is no longer simply a matter of getting together and talking,” said Pavone’s canon lawyer, the Rev. David Deibel.
A former consultant to the Servants of the Paraclete, a Catholic ministry to troubled priests, Deibel said the bishop had ignored Pavone’s requests for mediation. The bishop could not be reached for a response.
But the larger issue is about money. Priests for Life spokesman Jerry Horn repeatedly has denied requests for more details and explanations.
The records raise questions, in other words, that Pavone and his men have yet to answer.
There’s much more. Read the rest.
UPDATE: Ed Peters has a few thoughts on the latest developments in the story. Check it out.