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Prominent pro-life priest is recalled to his diocese

By on Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Fr Frank Pavone is appealing to the Vatican (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Fr Frank Pavone is appealing to the Vatican (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

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

The suspension was made public in a letter from Amarillo Bishop Patrick Zurek to his fellow bishops. Fr Pavone told the American Catholic News Service that he was returning to Amarillo and planned to continue functioning as a priest there.

But in a statement Fr Pavone said he was “very perplexed” by the bishop’s demand and was appealing to the Vatican.

Bishop Zurek said yesterday: “My decision is the result of deep concerns regarding his stewardship of the finances of the Priests for Life (PFL) organisation.

“The PFL has become a business that is quite lucrative which provides Fr Pavone with financial independence from all legitimate ecclesiastical oversight.”

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

The bishop also asked Fr Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, to return to Amarillo “to spend time in prayer and reflection”.

Fr Pavone, meanwhile, told Catholic News Service that he planned to comply with Bishop Zurek’s request to return to Amarillo. Fr Pavone said he was scheduled to leave Birmingham yesterday afternoon and meet Mgr Harold Waldow, vicar for clergy in the Amarillo diocese, immediately after his arrival.

“Bishop Zurek asked me to go back to the diocese today, which I am doing for a limited period of time,” Fr Pavone said. “I am going there and my [priestly] faculties are fully intact and I’m in good standing.”

Meanwhile Mgr Waldow, vicar for clergy in the diocese, said yesterday that Fr Pavone was needed for work in Amarillo and was a priest in good standing.

He said: “He’s here to be obedient to the bishop and try to work with the bishop,” Mgr Waldow said. “He’s going to have assignments, and he will be put on our payroll and given health care and other benefits like any other priest of the diocese.”

Fr Pavone was incardinated in the Amarillo diocese in 2005 when Priests for Life moved some of its operations to the Texas panhandle city. Priests for Life was welcomed to Amarillo by now-retired Bishop John Yanta, who served on the organisation’s board of advisers.

Priests for Life no longer has offices in Amarillo. It is based in Staten Island.

Records filed with the Internal Revenue Service show that the organisation’s income was $10.8 million in 2008, the latest year tax forms were available. In 2007, Priests for Life showed an income of $9.2 million.

The same records show that Fr Pavone received no income from the organisation during those years. He said when he originally took the position with Priests for Life that he would claim no salary from the organisation.

A popular lecturer and retreat leader, Fr Pavone travels the country speaking against abortion and on other pro-life issues. He also produces programmes for secular radio and television.

Fr Pavone became national director of Priests for Life in 1993. He also holds the same position with Gospel of Life Ministries, an interdenominational effort to end abortion, which shares its headquarters with Priests for Life.

In addition, Fr Pavone is national pastoral director of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and president of the National Pro-Life Religious Council.

A native of Port Chester, New York, he was ordained in 1988 by Cardinal John O’Connor of New York and served as a parish priest in the New York archdiocese before joining Priests for Life full-time in 1993.

  • Basil Loft@ss

    EWTN style catholicism goes from bad to worse. It just proves that you can’t run a Church without bishops. The latters’ failure to govern has resulted in a bizarre coterie of ‘neo-con’ priests and “new movements” filling the vacuum. As a general rule, if something is “new” the chances are it is crap.

  • chiaramonti

    Always avoid celebrity priests.

  • Anonymous

    1. ETWN seems to have a very good relationship with the current Bishop of Birmingham, Alabama, as well as the Vatican. 

    2.  This particular story is reminicent of the pre-conciliar friction between Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen and Francis Cardinal Spellman (then AB of NY) over how the former was spending the monies donated to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith–a feud that had to be settled by Pope Pius XII (who sided with Sheen)

    3.  “As a general rule, if something is “new” the chances are it is crap”–said the Sadducce to the Pharisee in reference to the new Nazarene sect preaching at the Temple. 

  • Basil Loft@ss

    Well, we’ll see who the Vatican sides with in this dispute then, shall we?

  • Basil Loft@ss

    3. “As a general rule, if something is “new” the chances are it is crap”–said the Sadducce to the Pharisee in reference to the new Nazarene sect preaching at the Temple.

    “The Catholic Church has been thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to
    libertarianism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a
    vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so on. Every day
    new sects arise.”

    Words spoken by Josef Ratzinger 48 hours before his election as Pope Sadducce XVI.

  • Anonymous

    “The Synod also recognized with gratitude that the ecclesial movements and the new communities are a great force for evangelization in our times and an incentive to the development of new ways of proclaiming the Gospel.” 
     Words spoken by Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini, in the 6th year of his pontificate.

  • AgingPapist

    The laity should be concerned about  expenditures by bishops and priests  and the total lack of accountability  in all dioceses.  Far too many priests are completely independent from episcopal oversight because of their independent and very rich style of living. Father Pavone is not alone.

  • reason alone

    He was Not Suspended. And he never will be. Who wrote this article.?? A Planned Parenthood sympathiser on their last breath who slipped this “NEWS” to some lazy writer at this paper. Wait for the facts… not the hyped up pro abortion media.

  • paula mendez

    actually the accounts in my parish are very clear, maybe is a problem centralised in the US…

  • Maureen Claire

     Looks like EWTN may be a poisoned chalice for some priests.