Fr. Frank Pavone Facing Restrictions – UPDATED

Heard a few whispers about this the other day, but couldn’t mention it because I really didn’t know; seems the story is out:

Father Frank Pavone, one of the country’s most visible and vocal opponents of abortion, has been suspended from active ministry outside the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, over financial questions about the priest’s operation of Priests for Life.

The suspension was made public in a Sept. 13 letter from Amarillo Bishop Patrick J. Zurek to his fellow bishops across the country, but Father Pavone told Catholic News Service that he was returning to Amarillo and planned to continue functioning as a priest there.

“My decision is the result of deep concerns regarding his stewardship of the finances of the Priests for Life (PFL) organization,” Bishop Zurek wrote. “The PFL has become a business that is quite lucrative which provides Father Pavone with financial independence from all legitimate ecclesiastical oversight.”

Bishop Zurek said “persistent questions and concerns” from clergy and laity about how the millions of dollars in donations the organization has received are being spent led to the action.

MORE TO COME

To be clear, Pavone is still in active ministry within his own Diocese; there is not yet any clear accusation of wrong-doing, but who knows what will develop? Perhaps the bishop simply wants to keep his priest from falling into the same challenges and difficulties that can strain priestly perspective, as we’ve seen happen with other priests who have achieved a degree of fame, influence and independence.

We’ll watch the story, as ever, and reiterate (as ever) that we don’t actually know much.

And (as ever) pray for all priests as they face this challenging age, and especially Father Pavone and his bishop, in this issue.

UPDATE: Here is a copy of the bishop’s letter to his fellow bishops. And it is pretty strongly worded:

I have decided to suspend Father Frank A. Pavone from public ministry outside of the Diocese of Amarillo to take effect on September 13, 2011. For an indefinite period, I am withdrawing my permission to him to minister outside our diocese and am calling him back to spend time in prayer and reflection. My decision is the result of deep concerns regarding his stewardship of the finances of the Priest For Life (PFL) organization. The PFL has become a business that is quite lucrative which provides Father Pavone with financial independence from all legitimate ecclesiastical oversight. There have been persistent question and concerns by clergy and laity regarding the transactions of millions of dollars of donations to the PFL from whom the donors have a rightful expectation that the monies are being used prudently. These financial questions and concerns have persisted with no clear and adequate answers since the time when Father Pavone was under two previous bishop ordinaries. Since he has consistently refused to subject the PFL to a transparent and complete auditing of all expenditures, I have reasons to be alarmed at the potential financial scandal that might arise if it were the result of my failure to correct Father Pavone’s incorrigible defiance to my legitimate authority as his Bishop. Additionally, the PFL financial resources have afforded Father Pavone with a formidable civil and canonical counsel which he utilized to rebuff my every attempt at calling for financial transparency. Thus, my decision to intervene and to call him to accountability is meant to express the dire need to safeguard his priestly ministry to which I am obligated as his father and to help the Church avoid any scandal due to the national scope of the PFL’s work. At a certain point, for me to hold all this knowledge about the PFL and to turn a blind eye would increase my culpability and quote possibly amount to material cooperation.

Then, it starts to sound a little personal:

In his relationship to his bishop ordinaries, Father Pavone has gradually lost his need to show appropriate obedience to his Bishop. It seems that his fame has caused him to see priestly obedience as an inconvenience to his unique status and an obstacle to the possible international scope of his ministry. I would venture to say that the supreme importance that he has attributed to his PFL ministry and the reductionist attitude toward the diocesan priesthood has inflated his ego with a sense of self-importance and self-determination. This attitude has strained his relationship with me and has give me the impression that I cannot invoke obedience with him because he is famous. It is my desire to help him readjust his priestly bearing through spiritual and theological renewal in order to recapture that essential priestly hallmark of respect and obedience. It is also my desire to strengthen Father Pavone’s sense of communio sacramentalis with me so that he may be fortified with a healthy zeal to live in an authentic way his sacramental gift and mystery as a priest of Jesus Christ.

If you judged it to be prudent, I would like to ask that you would inform the Christian faithful under your care to consider withholding donations to the PFL until the issues and concerns are settled.

Taking this opportunity to express my esteem and to ask for your prayers, I am,

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Patrick J. Zurek, STL, DD
Bishop of Amarillo

Wow. I am so grateful the good Lord has given me a bit of a jaundiced eye and thus spared me the cross of admiring anyone too much (because I rarely get shocked by anything.) I imagine that if I was a “fan” of Pavone’s, I’d feel pretty upset right now (to see an admired priest under fire). And if I had donated to Priest for Life, my curiosity would be picqued.

UPDATE II: Pavone’s Official Statement: He’s clearly got a good canon lawyer, cuz he’s got the lingo:

[...]Now, although Bishop Zurek is my Ordinary, he is not the bishop of Priests for Life. Each of our staff priests has his own Ordinary, and the organization has an entire Board of Bishops. We keep them all informed of our activities, and of our financial audits.

I want to say very clearly that Priests for Life is above reproach in its financial management and the stewardship of the monies it receives from dedicated pro-lifers, raised primarily through direct mail at the grassroots level. To this end, Priests for Life has consistently provided every financial document requested by Bishop Zurek, including annual financial audits, quarterly reports, management documents—even entire check registers! Priests for Life has been completely transparent with Bishop Zurek and any other bishops who have requested information regarding our management and finances. Indeed, we have 21 bishops and cardinals who sit on our Advisory Board, and they are kept fully informed about our finances.

Therefore, in the interest of preserving my good reputation as well as protecting the valuable work done by the Priests for Life organization, I have begun a process of appeal to the Vatican. This process aims to correct any mistaken decisions of the bishop in my regard and to protect my commitment to full-time pro-life activity for my whole life. We are very confident that the Vatican will resolve this matter in a just and equitable fashion. Because of this confidence, we are not currently making any changes in any positions at Priests for Life, or in any of our projects and plans.

I also want to point out that, according to the canon law of the Catholic Church, because I have begun this process of appeal to Rome, the Bishop’s order that I return to Amarillo has been effectively suspended. Nevertheless, because of my great respect for this Bishop and my commitment to be fully obedient at all times, I am reporting to Amarillo this Tuesday, in hopes that I can sort this problem out with the Bishop in a mutually agreeable and amicable way.

Read the whole thing: “He is not the ordinary of Priests for Life.” And,

“I want to be clear that I do not harbor any ill will towards the Bishop of Amarillo, nor do I foster suspicions about his motives. I am merely confused by his actions. It is impossible for me to believe that there is no place in the Church for priests to exercise full-time ministry in the service of the unborn.”

Whooboy. “I do not foster suspicions about his motives.” Then why say that at all? Seems like a classic passive-aggressive move.

This is going to be interesting. These two men seem loaded for bear!

Over on Facebook a friend notes: Guidestar doesn’t have any Form 990s for Priests for Life. That could mean the organization is really bad at administration, right? PFL is apparently a $10 million operation.

UPDATE III: EWTN’s statement, which I found on a twitter feed(!):

“EWTN is aware of reports that Bishop Patrick Zurek of the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, has recalled Fr. Frank Pavone and restricted his faculties to function as a priest outside of that diocese. EWTN is in ongoing conversations with both the Diocese of Amarillo and Father Pavone to clarify the exact nature of the restrictions and their potential impact on EWTN’s ability to continue to air programming featuring Fr. Frank. ‘While these discussions are continuing, the network encourages our EWTN family to keep this matter in your prayers.”

I feel bad for EWTN — they’ve been going through a lot, lately. It sounds like they are in the dark and looking to see how all of this plays with their standing policies.

Prayers all around.

Full Disclosure: I once met Fr. Pavone after attending a “prolife” Mass. A mere handshake, and I’m sure he would not remember me, but my impression was that he was no glamor-puss; I somehow doubt we’ll see anything about an abuse of personal expenditures. I am betting this is more about a bishop going out of his way to insure proprieties are being seen to, than anything else. And maybe a little turf-warring. My gut is saying all of this will end up resolved in a positive way. But I am very sad to see another priest/bishop dust up, and pray for a speedy reconciliation of all of this.

I know nothing about this bishop; anyone know of him? What’s he like? I can’t tell how much of this is about concern for the organization and how much spills over into the personal. And neither can you! :-) We’ll have to just wait and see what develops.

I do worry about this troubling trend of celebrity-priests and all of the challenges that they encounter with that celebrity. A priest is a priest first, before he is an activist or a fundraiser or a speaker or an administrator. When that becomes disoriented or out of balance, it is a hairy thing, I think. Again, pray for all of our priests, and for this priest and his bishop.

FINAL UPDATE: David Gibson is covering the story in the WaPo, and this bit makes me wonder if — as with Corapi — a big part of this issue is about incardination:

Since taking charge of Priests for Life, Pavone has led something of a nomadic existence. He initially moved the organization’s headquarters from California to New York, where he was ordained a priest in 1988 by the late Cardinal John O’Connor.

Pavone reportedly had a falling out with O’Connor’s successor, Cardinal Edward Egan, and in 2005 he put himself under the jurisdiction of the Amarillo diocese, and moved some PFL operations there. In 2007, Pavone tried to establish his own religious order dedicated to the pro-life cause, but abandoned it for lack of recruits.

PFL’s offices are now based in Staten Island, N.Y., but Pavone remains a priest of the Amarillo diocese.

This post is becoming very long, so this will be my final update. If anything else shows up on the story it will be in a new post. Meanwhile, Max Lindenman has decided that Father Pavone is one cool cat!

And Deacon Greg has a post here

Related: Pavone on Terry Schiavo

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Joe

    The letter from the bishop is *very* strong and speaks to long-standing problems.

    Didn’t Pavone try to set up some sort of seminary or something in Amarillo? He was trying to start a religious order….I guess that collapsed. Perhaps the animosity goes back to that time.

    Odd that the letter is dated 9/9 – so Pavone must have known.

    But he said Mass at EWTN this morning.

    https://twitter.com/#!/frfrankpavone/status/113601244467171328

    In Birmingham – which is not in Amarillo.

    [I believe the restriction was effective as of noon today -- not certain, so don't quote me. -admin]

  • pulchritudomusicae

    We certainly do need to pray for our priests and for all those working to end the culture of death–the devil targets them hard.

  • Cristiano

    Fr. Pavone has done a great job with the PFL organization. However, his vocation is not decided by himself but through the Church. It really bothers me to read the headlines saying that “he has been placed on leave…” That is simple gossip about a priest. The Bishop simply called a diocesan priest back to his diocese, and Fr. Pavone is coming back as any good and obedient priest should do. I think that after the story of Fr. Corapi gossiping about priests is becoming a national sport. I would have appreciated it better if the Bishop would have simply announced the transfer without giving any explanation, that would have been a common act of courtesy to Fr. Pavone.

  • Kate

    I disagree. Lately my inbox is flooded with appeals for donations from Father Pavone and Priests for Life. Priests who raise money from the public must be accountable, and if they refuse to account for the funds they solicit, then the public deserves to know.

  • John Drake

    The sudden cancellation of this coming weekend’s events in central Ohio now makes sense. A shame.

  • SteveM

    Re: Kate

    Agree. The last required IRS Form 990 filing available from PFL is tax year 2008. Which is unusual.

    As an FYI, Guidestar:

    http://www2.guidestar.org/

    is a great service for getting financial info on non-profits. (Registration required to see the Form 990 docs).

    While not the case for PFL up to 2008, many 501c organizations are huge cash cows for management, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation to those in leadership positions.

    That always makes me think long and hard when I see a “Make a Donation” link on a web site.

  • Paul Sarbaugh

    What a double standard. Fr. Pavone is suspended but you withhold judgment. With Fr. Corapi from the start you condemdned him.

    [What nonsense. I'm very tired today and running on little sleep. If "Corapians" start coming in here with their usual hysterics, I'll kick 'em out left and right. I'm done being accommodating -admin]

  • Joe

    Fr. Pavone’s statement is interesting and …transparent.

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/official-statement-from-fr-frank-pavone

  • http://domesticvocation.wordpress.com Christine the Soccer Mom

    I noticed this in Fr. Pavone’s comments:

    “…because of my great respect for this Bishop and my commitment to be fully obedient at all times, I am reporting to Amarillo this Tuesday…

    “… I want to be clear that I do not harbor any ill will towards the Bishop of Amarillo, nor do I foster suspicions about his motives. I am merely confused by his actions. …”

    It was refreshing to see that, though Fr. Pavone disagrees, he is being obedient to his bishop and hopes to reconcile with him.

    We must pray for our priests and bishops; Satan surely hates them far more than he hates us!

    Re: Date of letter v. Fr. Pavone being on EWTN. Perhaps because he’d committed to the EWTN Masses, his bishop made it effective as of now in order to allow him to at least finish that commitment.

    Rather than rush to judge either side, I believe we ought to be charitable to all involved and wait for things to be explained in full. (Which is exactly what Elizabeth did with Fr. Corapi, BTW. I don’t blame her at all for booting people who come here to attack her for what she’s written about that train wreck.)

  • Mary

    When does all of the scandalous stuff end? Lately, it does seem never-ending. Transparency is required and if anyone refuses to be transparent about their finances, it is cause for concern.

  • http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com priest’s wife

    praying for him- money makes things complicated…

  • Doc

    Anchoress said:

    Whooboy. “I do not foster suspicions about his motives.” Then why say that at all?

    I can see a good reason to say this. Fr. Pavone is well aware that Bishop Zurek’s move will anger many who understand that fighting against the Culture of Death should rise above all social justice ministries. Fr. Pavone seems to be trying to head the criticism of his bishop off at the pass. Fr. Pavone’s response appears to be appropriate. Given that fact, any comparison with Corapi is grossly unfair to Fr. Pavone.

  • rosaryfixer

    I hope this turns out for the best for all concerned. I stopped giving to Priests for Life several years ago when I was getting 2-3 mailings a week from them. Paper and postage-a waste of money. We make it a point to give to religious groups and organizations that make appeals only a few times a year. The Lord takes care of them always, and sometimes at the last minute, but He never fails us when we trust Him, even with finances. Any groups that send me trinkets or rosaries or holy cards with an appeal, the items go to our parish for the Legion of Mary to distribute, and the appeals go into the recycle bin. Charity begins at home…home parish, Religious Priests and Sisters in our diocese, and other worthy causes.

  • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com JoAnna

    I very much admire Fr. Pavone (I heard him speak when he came to Phoenix a few months back, and met him afterwards as well).

    However, I’m on the PFL mailing list, and, like Kate, it feels like I’m constantly bombarded with requests for donations. For example:

    August 16 AND 24, 2011: Subject line, “Joanna, your immediate action required” and saying, “It’s critically important that you click here right now and make the largest donation you possibly can to Priests for Life. Here’s why…”

    The May 10, 2011 newsletter said the following:

    There’s simply no way to sugar coat our financial situation here at Priests for Life.

    Contributions are lagging way behind where they should be … and where they need to be in order for us to win victory over legalized abortion-on-demand in America.

    It is for that reason that I ask you to please click here and rush Priests for Life a contribution for at least $20.86 … but more if you possibly can.

    In a moment I’ll explain why I’m asking you to send that precise amount. But that’s the minimum I need from you today. Again, if you can send more than that, then by all means please do so.

    The key is that you send as much as you can … and that you do so right now.

    In asking this of you let me assure you that our financial dilemma is NOT the fault of either any “mismanagement” on our part OR a lack of commitment on the part of you or anyone else in our Priests for Life family.

    For our part, we have slashed our budget literally to the bone. There is no fat anywhere. Nothing is wasted. When our priests and pastoral staff go off on their pro-life missions, they do so in the least expensive way possible. Believe me, there are no “frills” at Priests for Life.

    But they’re a $10 million dollar organization? I don’t know, something seems fishy.

  • Chef David

    Should any of this be public? Apparently the Bishop’s letter was confidential until very recently. It is beyond ‘cheeky’ for a subordinate to make a press-release reply.

  • Justin

    Satan HATES priests and especially Priests who speak out against the most unimaginable evil; the killing of a baby. This attack on Fr. Frank Pavone is to be expected. There are always attacks on those working for Christ and especially Jesus’s most favored servants, those working in the pro-life field. Please Jesus send your Holy Angels to guide and direct this situation with your Holy will. Amen.

  • http://www.mrmemitchell-badcatholic.blogspot.com Mark Mitchell

    It appears to me to be kind of a Protestant problem. Priests like Father Corapi and Father Pavone set up independent organizations to do good work but then the “guru” syndrome sets when they begin to gain followers and to think that they are really as important as everybody acts like they are. They then start to acting like Protestant Tele-evangelists who are basically their own Pope and answerable to nobody but God.

    If this were the Middle Ages, Father would be sent off to a Monastery for a few years to do penance and his organization and all its money would be surrendered to Father’s Bishop. I hope that Father Pavone has the good sense to submit to his Bishop’s authority and not rebel and become another “Black Sheep Dog.”

  • MaryW

    Don’t ask me why, but I believe all this will be sorted out quickly (in the way the Church moves “quickly” :-]) without undo damage to Fr. Pavone and his ministry. In the meantime, I will be praying for everyone involved. Isn’t that all we can do.

    [My gut says that, too -admin]

  • Katharine

    Who didn’t see that coming? I’m so sick of celebrity priests -wolves in sheep’s clothing.

  • DWiss

    It seems that success and money are very difficult to handle. That’s probably why Jesus had neither.

  • Debbie

    I live and attend church in Amarillo under Bishop Zuric. He is a wonderful bishop and we love him dearly. We are members of St. Marys Cathedral and Monsignoir Waldo is our priest. We love and respect him greatly as well. Please pray for Fr. Pavone and all involved.

  • Angela Santana

    I pray for Fr. Pavone, Bishop Zurek, and all involved.

    As for Bishop Zurek: He confirmed me in the Faith, and was our auxiliary here in San Antonio for many years. He has a pastoral heart and is a true shepherd. I pray that these actions are simply a reflection of that.

  • SteveM

    Re: Chef David

    I agree with David. Not only that, the letter should have only stated Bishop Zurek’s action with him conferring privately with his peers about his rationale.

    Same thing with Fr. Pavone. Duking it out over the internet is not good.

    Parenthetically, big money in non-profit advocacy organizations is always problematic. Because the don’t pay shareholders and they don’t have the legitimate big ticket, capital intensive opportunities of an operational non-profit like Catholic Charities.

    So there’s a lot of money sloshing around that’s going to be spent somehow…

  • Peter Rowe

    I am from the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Around 4 years ago, Bishop John Yanta retired, and returned to San Antonio. Bishop Yanta is an amazing Bishop and Priest!

    Anyways, Bishop Zurek was an axillary Bishop here before he went up to Amarillo. I met him a couple of times, and overall I like the guy. I hope Fr. Pavone is obedient to Bishop Zurek no matter what happens! Please remember – obedience is better than sacrifice!

    God bless,
    Peter

  • DAICE

    I live in the Amarillo Diocese. I know Bishop Zurek. He is dedicated to the missions of our church and is a strong leader. He has been a fine bishop since coming here a few years ago. I have also met Fr. Frank and consider him to be an asset to the Catholic Church.

    I hope there is nothing amiss, and that this can be handled quickly without damage to the reputations of either party.

    DAI

  • florin

    I pray for all our priests but especially for the ‘famous’ ones because fame, like power, brings many temptations. I have written to Fr. Pavone several times throughout the years questioning why he always says: ” ‘I’ have done this – or ‘I’ have done that” or “Look at ME with Mother Teresa” or “Look at ME with Pope John Paul” – this went on even after he had founded the community of Priests for Life – the whole cause seemed to be becoming more and more about him – he and his Priests do a wonderful work but fame, like power, can corrupt so we need to keep our Priests in our prayers. How different Fr. Benedict Groeschel is…I have been to his events and he is so humble and yet so charismatic – he is so Christ centered and not ‘me’ centered…but we can all fall into the ‘me’ temptation so let’s pray for each other – and that Christ be the center of all…

  • http://seasonsofgrace.net Kathy Schiffer

    I first met Fr. Pavone many years ago, and I have the highest respect for his ministry. He takes no salary from the ministry; the other staff are compensated at what seems to me a reasonable rate– not the high salaries which have been paid to executives from such organizations as the Catholic Health Association.

    I heard Fr. Pavone speak several times over the weekend, and his homilies were outstanding. He has been a great gift to the Church and the pro-life movement.

    It is fair to say that there is a great need. If they take in more $$$, they will be able to produce more radio and television broadcasts, develop more educational materials, travel to more cities, embrace more priests as part-time associates…. In short, given more, they will do more.

    Let us pray for him, for all the staff at Priests For Life, and for ourselves– that we can witness as well as he to the sanctity of Life.

  • Joe

    The more I think about it the more I suspect that the Missionaries for the Gospel of Life might be at the core of the problem.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missionaries_of_the_Gospel_of_Life

    It was supposed to be a socieity of apostolic life – an association of priests. Pavone announced big plans for a seminary:

    http://amarillo.com/stories/022507/new_6906152.shtml

    Read that article from 2007 – the plan was to spend between 70 and 130 million bucks.

    *****

    “The idea is to create hundreds and hundreds of Father Franks,” said Anthony DeStefano, PFL executive director and CEO.

    “Crews should begin work at the site on Northeast 24th Avenue, east of St. Laurence Cathedral, in late spring, said Lavin & Associates architect John Jenkins.

    The 60-acre campus could grow to seven buildings erected over a 10- to 15-year period, DeStefano said.

    Contributors have thus far pledged about half the cost of the first structure, DeStefano said.”

    ***

    I wonder if the issue is…all that fell through. It’s not happening. So where’s the money?

  • Kell

    JoAnna,
    A large nation wide non for profit like PFL running at $10 million per year is very cheap. I would like you to concider how much it costs to run a small Head Start (best example I have) in charge of 7 centers and 2 home base programs, the budget for that is 1.6 million per year, that covers staff, food, facilities, mandatory meetings, any vehicular maintenance, paper, books, supplies for the classroom and staff, parent programs, ect.

    Just putting things in perspective, I know $10 million sounds like a lot, but you should also look at the cost of running the programs that are offered.

  • jcd

    Saint John….Pray for us: Nothing new under the sun…
    http://catholicfire.blogspot.com/2011/09/st-john-chrysostom.html

  • Claudia

    I do know Fr. Frank personally and at no time have I seen him exhibit any freedom with $$$. It costs a lot to fly around the country attending events and speaking for all the priests involved. That the 990′s aren’t filed is an issue that needs to be addressed. To me, looking at the schedule, I can account for a lot of $$$, the schedule is public information. Fr. Frank is as far from a celebrity priest as one can be, his humility surrounds him.

  • Gail Finke

    Strange that is it all on the internet, no? I don’t think his letter sounds passive aggressive, I think it sounds like a letter from someone who knows very well he is being accused of being incorrigible and disobedient. As we have discovered is the case.

    It seems that the facts should be sorted out pretty quickly. Either PFL has been regularly audited, as Fr. Pavone says, or it hasn’t. Either way, it should not be difficult to determine where the money has gone, whether the 2008 statement was accurate, etc. To those who have seen the statements — was Fr. Pavone active in spending and directing the spending of the money? Or was someone else in charge? That’s important too.

    Here in Cincinnati, the head of a middle managers union for the City has just been indicted for stealing $750,000 of the union’s money, all paid for by direct deposits from the members’ dues. She took more than half what they took in, over six years, by refusing to let anyone know what she was doing with the money and by refusing to file any paperwork. I’m not big on unions for public employees, but in this case her misuse of funds is not because anyone else told her to do it, and no one else got the money. If there has been mismanagement of money at PfL, we will just have to wait and see what happened to it, who got it, and how.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    @JoAnna #14

    A $10 million dollar organization is not very large, believe it or not. Do a google search of several non profits or go to Cahrity Navigator and you’ll see how large non profits can be. $10 million is pretty small.

    Unlike you Anchoress I don’t have a jaundiced eye, especially when it comes to priests. I’m going to assume Fr. Pavone is innocent. I respect him too much not to give him the benefit of the doubt. But to be up front, I was proven wrong on my initial reactions to Fr. Corapi.

    [Manny, maybe I am misunderstanding you. Or you're misunderstanding me. I too have (I thought) made it pretty clear that we should wait to know more, and I have even ventured to say my gut says this will all be cleared up. -admin]

  • Lurker

    A priest friend of mine once remarked, “Do we really need ‘Priests for Life’? Isn’t that like ‘Priests for the Eucharist’?” Snark aside, I never thought much of this particular venture.

    Either way, I join those who are tired of celebrity priests.

  • http://bloggerpriest.wordpress.com Father Joe

    I think recent issues with other famous activist priests is the catalyst for this restriction upon Fr. Pavone. I suspect that there will be more of an effort in the future to supervise clergy and to require episcopal oversight to any and all ministries.

    Fr. Pavone, like all priests has a right to appeal to Rome, but I fail to see how this would ever suspend a priest from his obligation to obedience toward his lawful superior or bishop. Indeed, Rome itself, especially after the scandals around Fr. Corapi and Fr. Euteneur, may be insisting upon a heavier hand regarding such men.

    I think that Fr. Pavone is a wonderful priest. Returning to his diocese is a powerful testimony of his respect and obedience to his bishop. Pro-life work will continue even if the players change. A priest can promise many things, like embracing a special ministry, but his promise of obedience is primary. The parameters of his calling and the discernment of divine providence are always within the framework of his obedience to his bishop.

  • Mike

    I am speechless. I deeply admire Fr. Pavone. Not for his personality or charisma. He really doesn’t have any. It’s his courage and clarity in speaking out, and his activism in getting things done. He is a hammer of God against the demons of death out there who are running amok in our nation.

    This seems like an administrative dispute — the bishop wants to be in charge of PFL, and Fr. P thinks a different structure applies. The Texas bishop should work this out with the PFL board, not the way he is now doing it.

    PFL’s website says there was a clean audit opinion on their financial statements, 10th year in a row. If the CPAs are ok with the finances, what’s the question?

  • Paul Pluth

    I presume Priests for Life is in canon law either a private juridic person (though I doubt it) or a private association of the Christian faithful. In either case, there would be no Ordinary of PFL. And, in either case, it would not be subject to the canonical requirements for reporting. Nonetheless, it would only be sensible to render full accounting in an annual report available to all, including donors.

  • hkoczur

    Really do not like your attitude toward this..

    [I like my attitude just fine. If you don't like it, you don't have to read it. It's a free and beautiful country -admin]

  • kevin

    John Paul II got fed up with the Jesuits’ disobedience once and appointed his own representative to run their order for a while. Lots of disobedience to go around i suppose. But way too early to make any judgments here and Rome will apparently have the last word. It is very good ferreting out cases of true disobedience versus ecclesial infighting.

  • http://janehartman.com Jane Hartman

    Father Pavone’s actions speak volumes about his obedience to the church and his bishop. We need folks like Father Pavone to help us articulate the Pro-Life message.

  • naturgesetz

    Paul Pluth,

    Since PFL doesn’t have an ordinary of its own, everybody in it has his or her own ordinary; and in Fr. Pavone’s case, that seems to be the Bishop of Amarillo.

  • Fr. Allen

    I don’t quite understand how people bandy about ‘obedience’ as if it’s the easiest thing in the world. It may ultimately be simple, but it’s not always easy!

    And, the good Bishop’s letter does sound quite personal toward the end. His language is awkward and somewhat embarrassing in a public announcement of this sort.

    As for Fr. Frank’s actions, I do believe he has every right to tell people his side of the story. Sometimes very strange things happen in the Priesthood and, even while practicing obedience, he is no doubt struggling with what can only be a sudden change in his assignment, with little to no time to make a proper transition. For most, a transition of several months is appropriate, not a few days.

    Also, in the interest of questioning guidestar.org, which has somehow come to be seen as Gospel in this suddenly developing issue, they do note that their information may well be incomplete as they invite non-profits to update their own information.

    The Holy Spirit can work through this matter. It’s unfortunate that scandal is erupting over it.

  • http://www.BetweentheBurghandtheCity.com Paul Snatchko

    I don’t have anything to say regarding the actual story here.

    But, regarding the tone and the frequency of the fundraising appeals from Priests for Life … I also recently unsubscribed from their e-mailing lists because for this reason.

    In number, there were too many. And, in tone, they were over the top. The messages contained too many of the “get an immediate reaction” triggers.

    I wish more Catholic organizations would stop using the fundraising mail companies and just send genuine letters saying what they need.

    [I agree with you, there. I had a similar experience with Special Olympics. I was happy to donate regularly, but then it became a constant flood of mail, and a remarkable number of phone calls -- it felt like they were calling every night -- and I finally stopped giving to them. That is NOT to say anything negative about the organization or the work it does, or to suggest anything underhanded about them; I admire Special Olympics. But whoever decided to go for aggressive fundraising just turned me off, completely -admin]

  • Kathy

    Having heard Father Pavone preaching at Mass numerous times, I was struck by his lack of humility. Then I received an offer from him by email to receive ABSOLUTELY FREE a Catholic version of a living will. I thought, great I’ll order it, especially if it is free. When checkout time came, I was astounded to find out that while the document was free, the POSTAGE AND HANDLING WAS $18.00. I was so appalled by this FRAUD, that I replied to the email stating my disbelief that the word FREE was constantly stressed although it wasn’t free at all. I never received a reply. So I am not at all surprised by this current news.

  • Pete

    Folks, the IRS filings are available online at Guidestar, just go on and look. If these filings are false then Fr. Pavone may have an issue with the IRS. If they’re not, and he has given full disclosure to a board of VIP clerics, then we may have a problem with the Bishop of Amarillo. Why did he raise an issue that the board of PFL did not? Why would he suspect something they did not?

  • kenneth

    Bishops are understandably nervous about celebrity priests these days. It’s a phenomenon that never ends well for bishop’s authority or the church as an organization. These guys tend to form a cult of personality around themselves and become messianic figures in their own right.

    With no accountability, vast sums of money and the apparent legitimacy conferred by a large following of devout Catholics, it’s a monstrous scandal waiting to happen. Probably the worst of the lot in modern times was that Maciel character. For half a century, he was able to live a life that would have made Caligula blush because he had the trappings of celebrity and his own power base and an endless reserve of money. Even in cases where there is no hideous malfeasance, celebrity priests (ie Michael Pfleger), run circles around bishop’s authority and dictate terms to them.

  • Becky Norrell

    Reading Bishop Zurick’s letter, I too, was taken aback by the tone and reputation-smearing allegations of criminal activity without evidence about a brother priest. The bishop sounded jealous!

    I only pray for the day when bishops will write scathing letters like this to pro-choice catholic politicians, OR, Planned Parenthood ,OR, Letters to the Editor concerning the Destruction of Marriage by the homosexual agenda and “shack-up” relations; OR, abortion;OR, any social evil for that matter. In TEXAS, we NEVER hear from any of them.

  • lethargic

    “I am betting this is more about a bishop going out of his way to insure proprieties are being seen to, than anything else. ”

    Well speaking from total ignorance and assumption (LOL) I feel sorry for the bishop. With recent scandals, especially Fr. Corapi there in TX, he must be feeling a lot of pressure NOT to have a Corapi happen in his diocese … at least, I hope that’s what’s going on … excessive caution as the preferable of the two evils.

    [That's what I mean -- possibly erring on the side of caution -admin]

  • kevin

    The ‘hard sell’ marketing approach is better suited in car dealerships i agree. I throw that stuff out right away even if there is an underlying good cause. Having said that, i wouldn’t call Fr Pavone a celebrity any more than some other slightly raised profile clergy like Fr Martin. And i’ll be stunned if any of this has legs.

  • NBW

    Why are high profile, Pro-life priests being suspended by the bishops? Are the bishops going to take their place in the pro-life movement?


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