Priests For Life Leader Accused of Financial Mismanagement

The controversial anti-choice activist who leads “Priests for Life” has been ordered to return to his diocese and give up public appearances while leaders try to determine if he has been mishandling the group’s finances.

Via CBS News:

Bishop Patrick Zurek, of Amarillo, Texas, restricted [Father Frank] Pavone’s ministry to within the diocese, where he will be pastor to a women’s religious order and spend time in reflection until the problem is resolved.

In a letter to the nation’s bishops that became public Tuesday, Zurek expressed “deep concerns” about the financial management of Priests for Life and worried about the potential for scandal. He said Pavone’s work has “inflated his ego” and the priest needed to show “appropriate obedience'” by providing information that other bishops had also sought in vain. Priests for Life has an annual budget of about $10 million and has offices in the New York borough of Staten Island.

“The PFL has become a business that is quite lucrative which provides Father Pavone with financial independence from all legitimate ecclesiastical oversight,” Zurek wrote in the letter, dated last Friday. “There have been persistent questions 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.”

Jon O’Brien of Catholics For Choice responds to the story, saying, “Priests for Life’s ultra-right-wing positions on abortion and other issues have alienated many laypeople and priests alike. Its links to the antichoice movement’s extreme, aggressive fringe, such as Operation Rescue leaders Randall Terry and Reverend Philip ‘Flip’ Benham, have been a constant scandal. Ultimately, Priests for Life appears to never have attracted more then one in five US priests. Perhaps it was inevitable that his financial stewardship would also come into question.”

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  • taxservice

    Undoubtably, the issue is a real money maker for this priest!!!  Apparently, he is being discredited by his own church authorities.  Another thought which comes to mind is that the more disfunctional families, or those who can’t afford the product of mistakes/rape/et al, are more inclined to create the type of victims who can be used to the advantage (sexual abuse) of the priests, nuns, rabbi’s, ministers, who prey upon them. (tic)

  • crowepps

    The Church STILL hasn’t recovered from the black eye it got when Terry Shiavo’s autopsy showed her brain was gone after Pavone had described how she was aware and communicating with him.  It really, really doesn’t need to have some maverick running around right now telling a bunch of lies about “Baby Joseph” and how a Canadian hospital is “letting him die” and how he has been “rescued”.


    And I would imagine that Church’s lawyers are having a cow about the first of these, and the Vatican isn’t too happy with the second:

    Fr. Pavone’s suspension could not have come at a worse time for Priests for Life, which just this week launched a “Vote Pro-life Coalition” in anticipation of the 2012 elections. The coalition, organized by Priests for Life, includes more than three dozen national groups with plans for “Voter Registration Sundays” on May 27, July 1 and Sept. 9.

    On Sept. 12, Priest for Life announced that it had formed an international private association of the faithful called the Gospel of Life Association. “Priests for Life has for some time now been a family of ministries,” said Fr. Pavone in a prepared statement. “As we have grown and diversified, the work of these ministries has also increasingly become international. Twenty years ago, Priests for Life was established as a Private Association here in the United States. Now we felt it was appropriate to establish the same kind of association internationally, and to have our various branch ministries formally ratify their intent to be such an association.”

  • crowepps

    Bishop Cupich now leads the Diocese of Spokane, Washington.  Today’s news brought the startling story that he told his priests and seminarians at a diocesan meeting[iv] that they cannot pray outside of Planned Parenthood, promote or organize peaceful protest outside Planned Parenthood in their parishes (naming 40 Days for Life  specifically), or allow pro-life material to be distributed in their parishes unless it is published by the Washington State Conference of Catholic Bishops or the USCCB (which does support 40 Days for Life). “The reason he gave for his decision is that he does not want his priests being identified with ‘extreme’ pro-life persons”[v] such as those who “demonstrate with large, graphic photos of aborted babies.”

  • person-0

    The reason he gave for his decision is that he does not want his priests being identified with ‘extreme’ pro-life persons”


    It’s about damn time. 

  • crowepps

    Must say, seeing priests and nuns intermixed with wild-eyed lunatics and people screaming on bullhorns doesn’t exactly associate them in my mind with spiritual comfort and a place to go for refuge but instead a rerun of the Inquisition.  The comments at that site were something else:  why isn’t the Church excommunicating more people?  Why is the Bishop/Vatican interferring with the “holy work” of our wonderful cause?


    If Pavone can no longer use the funds this harassment street theater generates for Priests for Life, it’ll be interesting to see whether it all just fades away.  Personally, at the point where somebody has sufficient excess donations to buy and operate a private airplane, I’d be a little suspicious about how the money is being handled myself.