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Fr. Frank Pavone steps down from Priests for Life, or not……UPDATED September 13, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, episcopate, foolishness, General Catholic, religious, sadness, scandals, sickness.

….and is suspended from ministry outside his own Diocese of Amarillo:

Father Frank Pavone, the president of Priests for Life, has been suspended from ministry outside of his Amarillo, Texas diocese.

Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo revealed, in a letter to other American bishops, that he has recalled Father Pavone to the Texas diocese because of “deep concerns regarding his stewardship of the finances of the Priests for Life organization” and Father Pavone’s resistance to ecclesiastical authority.

Father Pavone has indicated that he will obey his bishop’s order. He will remain a priest in good standing in Amarillo, but will not be available to continue his leadership of Priests for Life. In recent years he has traveled extensively, giving speeches and conducting retreats, in his capacity as leader of the pro-life group.

Bishop Zubek disclosed that he had taken action in response to persistent questions about the financial affairs of Priests for Life: an organization with a $10 million annual budget. Father Pavone, he said, has “refused to subject the PFL to a transparent and complete auditing of all expenditures.” Bishop Zubek encouraged this fellow bishops to “inform the Christian faithful under your care to consider withholding donations to the PFL until the issues and concerns are settled.”

The Amarillo bishop also expressed concern about Father Pavone’s “incorrigible defiance of my legitimate authority as his Bishop.” He said the priest’s prominence as a national pro-life leader had encouraged him to “see priestly obedience as an inconvenience to his unique status and an obstacle to the possible international scope of his ministry.”

We used to give money to Priest’s for Life, but stopped when they always seemed to be demanding more (and constantly seemed broke).  But, that doesn’t mean he’s done anything wrong.  However, I think that very public, TV based ministry is very hazardous for the interior life and practice of virtue.  It’s very hard to be in the world constantly, living the high life, and not become of the world.  Razing the bastions as a philosophy is disaster.

UPDATE: Fr. Pavone responds:

For the past several years, my Ordinary, the Most Reverend Patrick Zurek, Bishop of Amarillo, has given me permission to do the full-time pro-life work that I have done since 1993. In 2005, I made a public promise in a Church ceremony in Amarillo, presided over by a Vatican Cardinal, that this full-time pro-life work would be a lifetime commitment. That’s a commitment I promise to fulfill without wavering.

This past week, however, I received a letter from the Bishop insisting that I report to the Diocese this Tuesday, September 13 and, for the time being, remain only there.

I am very perplexed by this demand. Despite that, because I am a priest of the diocese of Amarillo, I will be obedient and report there on the appointed date, putting the other commitments that are on my calendar on hold until I get more clarity as to what the bishop wants and for how long. Meanwhile, I continue to retain all my priestly faculties and continue to be a priest in “good standing” in the Church. The bishop does not dispute this fact. Rather, he has said that he thinks I am giving too much priority to my pro-life work, and that this makes me disobedient to him. He also has claimed that I haven’t given him enough financial information.

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. 

I pray God’s Will is done.  On a related note, I have heard certain criticisms of the Bishop of Amarillo.

UPDATE 2:  More input from Jill Stanek.  She quotes an anonymous source that puts Bishop Zurek in a bad light:

Fr. Pavone’s ministry necessarily conflicts with church hierarchy, because they understandably want to control the message on the Life issue. This is not wrong or a bad thing, but lay Catholics view bishops as weak on the Life issue, not strong enough. Then, in steps Fr. Pavone, and there is a power struggle. This scuffle is definitely a manifestation of that struggle.

It’s not that Fr. Pavone wants to take over the church. It’s simply that he wants to end abortion,. That is his sole desire. Everybody who knows him knows this is true.

Have you seen his bedroom? It’s the size of a bathroom. There’s a bed, and there’s a closet, and that’s it. Father Pavone does not live in a mansion and he does not ride a Harley-Davidson. His favorite restaurant is McDonald’s, for crying out loud.

I saw this story and was so angry. It is ridiculous. If there is a  real charge, then prove it. Don’t give me this mealy mouthed, “I’m very concerned where all this money is going to.” I know for a fact the opposite is the case. I thnk the blowback from lay people is going to be severe. I think the bishops are going to find that out.

I’ve seen several ‘inside sources’ in the last few hours making this action against Pavone out to be the USCCB and certain bishops wanting to reign in and squash any successful independent ministries (of a certain outlook and political bent – others are of course free to do as they want ,including reject Church Doctrine).  I pray that’s not the case, but it looks like Pavone intends to fight.  But the system is gamed to always favor the bishop.

UPDATE 3: Read this.  This seriously undermines all the assertions made by Bishop Zurek, coming not from Priests for Life but from one of its Board of Directors.  Some are claiming certain bishops cannot stand to see successful ministries (read, revenue sources) outside their control. You should read Eponymous Flower for a full on frontal attack along this line.  I don’t know enough to comment, but I pray this all will just go away and Priest’s for Life can continue it’s INDEPENDENT ministry.  The most successful pro-life ministries have all been independent – now, why would that be?


1. genennene - September 13, 2011

I’m reserving judgment on this one for the time being

2. Mary - September 13, 2011

Here we go again…
I don’t like this.
They are hitting priests and organizations more on the conservative side. An exorcist, another spiritual warfare priest, a public pro-life priest…

I can’t say whether a priest should be in charge of PFL, but the bishops seem to be changing the rules as the game is played… Are they trying to get their hands on the money or stop the forward progression of orthodoxy or something else. Why aren’t they stopping the heretical priests and religious who are in the public???

Satan is attacking those who are making a difference…who’s next?
We’ll see another name added to the list within 4 months. I’m not sure who yet.

3. Tancred - September 14, 2011

It would be nice if they went after dissident Priests with “successful” ministries with as much fervor.

4. Tancred - September 14, 2011

I regularly go to Masses with all kinds of Liturgical abuses and even statements that strike me as heretical.

One priest said that Baptism doesn’t make you Christian.

These aren’t isolated cases, but the norm and the Bishops do little or nothing to stop it.

It doesn’t matter that these priests are preaching to increasingly elderly and thinning congregations, either.

tantamergo - September 14, 2011

It’s a disaster. Sorry if I didn’t make clear, but I admire your blog.

God bless!

5. Mary - September 14, 2011

so the good Bishop of Amarillo just completed a new “cathedral”, that’s far from orthodox. Perhaps he needs money to pay for this cathedral, or he got his feelings hurt that Fr Pavone doesn’t think much of the cathedral.
http://eponymousflower.blogspot.com/2011/09/catholic-snooze-media-and-old-liberal.html (from Tancred’s blog)

soooo it’s greed, power and money

The priests and bishops are in need or more prayers than perhaps they know.

6. Cori Hyland - September 15, 2011

Very annoying. Not that everything is about me (except that it is)…but, I need to do some extra praying for priests and the Pro-life movement. We pray for them together as a family every night, but there’s more needed here. I think I know now for whom to offer up the pain of this birth. I’ll send a few up for you guys as well. Hope the boy wonder is feeling better these days.

7. Marie - September 19, 2011

Please reserve judgement – Fr Pavone needs to trust in the Lord and be totally willing to be totally used by our Lord. In the end, that trust will give him the graces to be doing what he should be doing where he should be doing it.

tantamergo - September 19, 2011

I don’t think I’ve indicated judgment on either party, except that the rhetoric in Bishop Zurek’s letter was extraordinary.

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