Report looks at questions surrounding Priests for Life financial records — UPDATED

Report looks at questions surrounding Priests for Life financial records — UPDATED October 16, 2011

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.

"I think I would have been happier had the CDF handled the nuns the way ..."

Vatican challenges “interpretation” of cardinal’s remarks ..."
"Blaming "Islamics" for this is like blaming the Pope for the Holocaust Denial of Hutton ..."

One killed, 44 injured in Catholic ..."
"It smacks to me of hyper-sensitivity, a veiled spiritual and intellectual pride, with regards to ..."

Pope Francis: “A Christian who complains, ..."
"Oh, no, we never change our mind, and we always agree, even on points of ..."

Vatican challenges “interpretation” of cardinal’s remarks ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment

5 responses to “Report looks at questions surrounding Priests for Life financial records — UPDATED”

  1. I fail to see the wisdom in sending more money to an already suffering organization that appears to be on the crash and burn status after several imprudent financial decisions.

    Someone said in the past that any organization that can’t hold itself up on its on merit should not exist. I have mixed feelings about this. But obedience to one’s bishop is by far the most important here. I’m troubled by priests that act as if they are independent of their father, the ordinary, their pastor.

  2. I’m sure Fr. Pavone’s heart is probably in the right place. But it sounds like he’s been using his own judgement as to what constitutes sound management and fiscal policies for the various organizations he’s connected with, and that judgement may be lacking in certain areas. Parishes have Parish Finance Councils to keep their houses in order, and it seems like something along those lines is what might be helpful here. Outside oversight might be exactly what is needed so that Fr. Pavone can then go on with his pro-life work. The question is, can he relenquish the tight control he currently seems to have over all of these different entities?
    I’d also like to see him just sit down with his Bishop and try to resolve this in a way that would be positive for everyone. As it is right now, he’s not helping himself, the Church, or his pro-life ministry. It doesn’t sound to me like he’s getting very sound advice.

  3. What was the “entity in Europe?” Hmmm, I guess if I check the link I may find out or not. This is very sad. Presuming that Fr. Pavone has the best intentions, his own judgement and the lack of transparency has really harmed this whole effort.

    And even if he is being completely persecuted, Fr. Pavone has odd ways, so it seems to me, of being obedient. This is why we are meant to be a people in community; our own judgments alone are so flawed. I think of many who were silenced and went silent only to have powerful influence later. There is wisdom in that.

  4. It would seem in the best interest of the Church to get this resolved and I doubt it will happen if these two are left to work things out. There is a precident where a Bishop involved in a program was in disagreement with his superior…

    In the early 1950s, Bishop Sheen and Cardinal Spellman, engaged in a bitter feud largely over the dispersal of Society funds. The struggle led to a private audience before Pius XII, who sided with Sheen.

    That decision resulted in a spiteful Cardinal Spellman terminating Sheen’s television series, making him a local outcast, and driving him from the Archdiocese.
    I would hope that cooler heads could prevail and would love to see this resolved.

    We have made some very good contacts with our petition signatures and pledges for PFL and there is hope that this will lead to some form of mediation with the Vatican who supports the work of PFL, but also the authority of the Bishop. Leaving this festor does not help anyone. Right now, at the request of those who we are working with, we are holding back doing much of anything else and entering a time of prayer for it resolution and for the end of the holocaust of abortion.

  5. “Name (Fr. David L. Deibel) ring any bells? Deibel was the sole witness Judge Arthur Brennan singled out to exempt from his commendation of participants in the 1994 sentencing hearing of multiple child-molester Fr. Gordon Macrae, a priest of the Diocese of Manchester:” (

    “I (Judge Arthur Brennan) want to thank the witnesses who testified at this hearing, both for and against Gordon MacRae. I found, with the exception of Father David Deibel, the priest and lawyer, that you all spoke in good faith, whether I agreed with what you said or not. I believe that Father Deibel attempted to mislead the Court, that he intentionally minimized the behavior of Gordon MacRae, and that he is not a credible witness. I hope and trust he is not representative of the attitudes of the governing body of the Catholic Church concerning sexual predators within its clergy.”

    “Not to worry, your honor. There is absolutely no connection between Deibel’s former consultancy to the Servants of the Paraclete, priest-molester Gordon MacRae’s employment by the same organization, the organization’s apostolate of rehabilitating sex-abusers, and Deibel’s present position of influence. We are an Easter People.” (



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.