September 14, 2011
Has Father Frank just gotten under one too many clerical and political skins?
Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests For Life since 1993, has been “suspended” from his pro-life ministry and ordered back to the Diocese of Amarillo, TX.
In a letter to fellow bishops, Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo cited “deep concerns regarding his stewardship of the finances of the Priests for Life organization”. Bishop Zurek further claimed that Father Pavone has shown “incorrigible defiance of my legitimate authority as his Bishop.”
Father Frank? No one in the pro-life community is buying it at this point, especially when the charges are related to Priests For Life, which Father Frank Pavone has developed into one of the most prominent, most effective pro-life organizations in the world.
Father Frank wasted no time in responding to the charges and filing an appeal to the Vatican.
Bishop Zurek’s letter stated that Father Pavone has failed to respond to the Bishop’s persistent questions about the financial affairs of Priests For Life and has “refused to subject the Priests For Life to a transparent and complete auditing of all expenditures.”
Simply not true says Father Frank in a statement published on the Priests For Life website in which he contends that “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”.
And in the following interview, Father Frank points to ten years of independent audits and full compliance in responding to any inquiries from Bishop Zurek.
The seminary discussed in the interview refers to Father Frank’s attempt to establish an order of priests dedicated to the pro-life cause. As far as we can tell, however, the failed seminary was not mentioned in Bishop Zurek’s letter.
Regarding his appeal to Vatican, Father Frank wrote “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.”
“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.”
Canon Law regarding a Bishop’s authority over his priests is pretty straight forward – the Bishop’s word is the law. And Canon Law expert Edward Peters asserts that though Father Frank has the right to appeal his removal from Priests For Life, Bishop Zurek has full authority to order Father Frank back to the Diocese Of Amarillo full time, any time.
And how effectively can Father Frank lead Priests For Life from within the Diocese Of Amarillo? Which leads to the question in the mind of every committed pro-life Catholic.
Is the allegation of financial mismanagement at Priests For Life a smokescreen for reigning in Father Frank Pavone’s “aggressive” commitment to ending abortion in America, as Father Frank seems to allude to in the beginning of the video interview? It’s certainly possible. Father Frank doesn’t tread lightly in his ministry for life and has gotten under more than a few prominent clerical and political skins. As more priests and ministers should.
Misunderstanding and reinstatement is the best we can hope and pray for. Anything else, either way, will be a grave setback for America’s unborn.
Category: Father Frank Pavone