John Westen

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Interview: Priests for Life President Fr. Pavone reacts to bishop’s recall to diocese

John Westen

September 13, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - LifeSiteNews spoke with Priests for Life President Fr. Frank Pavone this morning regarding a letter by his bishop, Patrick J. Zurek, demanding that Fr. Pavone restrict his ministry, at least for the time being, to the Diocese of Amarillo, commencing today September 13, 2011. 

In a September 9 letter to bishops across the U.S., Bishop Zurek said, “My decision is the result of deep concerns regarding his stewardship of the finances of the Priests for Life (PFL) organization.”

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

Fr. Pavone told LifeSiteNews that he was “perplexed” by the demand and added that he has begun a process of appeal to the Vatican. He stressed 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. “ 

Financial reports, he said, are submitted to all 21 bishops and cardinals who sit on the organization’s Advisory Board.

Fr. Pavone also said that he does “not receive any salary or financial remuneration from either the Diocese of Amarillo or from Priests for Life.”

Priests for Life, “does provide for my residence and the expenses associated with the ministry,” he said, “but these expenses are very small.” As a diocesan priest, Fr. Pavone has not taken a vow of poverty, however, he said, “I have basically chosen to live in that fashion in solidarity with the pre-born children we are trying to protect—who are the poorest of the poor.”

Fr. Pavone said that he will be obedient to his bishop’s request to return to his diocese.  As he puts it, “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.”

“According to the canon law of the Catholic Church, because I have begun this process of appeal to Rome, the Bishop’s order that I return to Amarillo has been effectively suspended,” he said. He added, however: “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.”

Fr. Pavone says he does not expect this situation to last for very long.

As a leading spokesman for the pro-life movement throughout the world, the removal of Fr. Pavone from his position of pro-life leadership would be devastating.  Fr. Pavone remains confident, however, that this will not take place. “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.”

Read Fr. Pavone’s complete statement in response to the allegations of financial misconduct here.

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