As a pro-life leader with the distinct honor of working for decades in the effort to end abortion, I’m always saddened to read of scandal within the movement. Regardless whether or not there’s any truth attached to such an event, the end result is destructive and detrimental to those involved, as well as harmful to our collective work to protect innocent human life from fertilization to natural death.
The latest accusations leveled against Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, by his Bishop saddens and alarms me more than usual. Not for the degree of the accusations made, but rather for the lack of specifics associated with them. Christian prudence should dictate that before charges are made public, a documented, well-articulated case should have first been formulated.
In this case, the Most Rev. Patrick Zurek has publically charged Father Pavone with “incorrigible defiance” and voiced “deep concerns” about the financial stewardship of Priests for Life. Further, he has urged donors to boycott the organization. These are very serious allegations which could have a profound negative effect on Father Pavone’s personal reputation and Priests for Life’s financial solvency. They should not be made lightly or without specific documentation to back them up.
As a casual observer, I have no inside information on the credibility of these charges. However, I have known Father Frank for twenty years and know them to be counter to how he has led his life—both personally and professionally. In addition, the simple fact did not elude me, and shouldn’t elude others, that Priests for Life is financially monitored by an expansive team of twenty-one bishops and cardinals. I wonder how many other non-profit organizations provide this level of accountability.
I encourage my fellow pro-life leaders, as well as donors and non-donors to Priests for Life, not to come to a premature conclusion of guilt based on these less-than-complete accusations. Life Issues Institute has on several occasions worked with Father Frank and his team at Priests for Life with positive results for unborn babies. My confidence in all of them has not been shaken.
I ask you to join me in continued prayers for all involved: Father Frank, Bishop Zurek, Priests for Life and the entire pro-life movement. May the Lord shine the light of truth onto this unfortunate situation. In the meantime, unborn babies will be better served if our boycott efforts are directed at corporations that fund Planned Parenthood, Komen and March of Dimes, not our fellow pro-life allies.
Bradley Mattes is the executive director of Life Issues Institute, an international pro-life educational organization. He is an Emmy award-winning host of Facing Life Head-On, a weekly pro-life TV program and the host of Life Issues, a daily radio commentary heard on 977 radio outlets across the nation.