National Catholic Reporter

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Priests for Life

Vatican sides with Pavone, but details unclear

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According to the Amarillo Globe-News:

 

A Roman Catholic priest restricted to ministry within the Diocese of Amarillo appears to have won a loosening of the restraints placed on him by his bishop.

 

The Congregation of the Clergy at the Vatican has overturned Amarillo Bishop Patrick J. Zurek's decision to prevent the Rev. Frank Pavone from performing religious services outside the Roman Catholic Diocese of Amarillo, according to information from both sides in the dispute.

But a statement from Zurek said Pavone still must continue "until further notice" his ministry as chaplain of the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ at Prayer Town, near Channing, and the two must agree, in advance, about Pavone's participation in pro-life events.

Pavone has been operating since September under restrictions placed upon him by Zurek, who raised questions about the finances of Priests for Life, a New York anti-abortion nonprofit, and affiliated organizations directed by Pavone.

The real Fr. Frank Pavone

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In a recent blog, I highlighted the fact that a priest attending the trial of two gangsters would not identify himself to a reporter. It seemed like odd behavior to me.

Now we have the embattled national director of Priests for Life, Fr. Frank Pavone, writing in the Washington Post's On Faith blog, and his byline is plainly, "By Frank Pavone." Odd. Why no reference to "Father"?

Pavone, then, goes on with a reflection on the role of the church in the U.S. politics, saying the church must be an equal-opportunity critic, challenging both political parties. The essay lacks Pavone's usual unbridled bombast and attacks on President Barack Obama and his administration.

Pavone does add:

The odyssey continues for Priests for Life

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Only days after a desperate and urgent fundraising appeal letter seeking more than $600,000 in the next two weeks was sent to donors , Fr. Frank Pavone, the leader of pro-life group Priests for Life, delivered another letter to his donors Saturday.

This time, Pavone unleashes an attack on President Barack Obama.

"The Obama administration is out to force you to take a direct and active role in the murder of your unborn brothers and sisters," Pavone says in the opening salvo.

"President Obama's arrogance and his disdain for those who 'cling to God' is such that, like the schoolyard bully, he thinks he can run roughshod over anyone who stands in his way or dares to defy him," Pavone writes.

"Well, he picked a fight with the wrong people when he attacked Priests for Life," he continues. "We have no intention of knuckling under. Instead, we filed a lawsuit to protect you, your conscience rights, and your freedom to practice your religion as you deem fit."

Priests for Life in $608,000 debt, faces financial peril

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In another urgent fundraising letter dated February 2012, Priests for Life is seeking $608,000 "in the next two weeks in to pay bills that are now over 90 days old."

Fr. Frank Pavone, the embattled national director of Priests for Life, states that the "financial problem we're facing is the combination of two things, really; neither of which we had any control over."

In this missive, Pavone drops from his letterhead the role of national director of the Gospel of Life Ministries.

The two outside factors that have put Priests for Life in this critical situation are the economy and donors reneging on paying their pledges, he writes.

As for the economy, Pavone plays dithering economist and says the economy has been "in a rut for three years now. And I have no idea when it's going to get back on track. But the continued high unemployment and low consumer confidence is wreaking havoc with families ... including our Priest for Life family. A fairly large percentage of your fellow Priests for Life supporters have been forced to cut back on their gifts to us for the simple reason that they are having a tough time making ends meet in their own families."

Priests for Life leader 'not in prison,' continues to raise money

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Amarillo Bishop Pat Zurek broke his silence to Karen Smith Welch, the Amarillo Globe-News reporter who has been ably covering the dysfunctional relationship between Zurek and one of his priests, Fr. Frank Pavone. Pavone is the national director/president/chairperson of no fewer than three anti-abortion charities: Priests for Life, Inc.; Gospel of Life Ministries Inc.; and Rachel's Vineyard Ministries.

According to the Amarillo Globe-News:

 

A Roman Catholic priest restricted to ministry within the Diocese of Amarillo participated in March for Life events Monday in Washington with the permission of his bishop.

 

The Rev. Frank Pavone had a full calendar during Monday's annual pro-life gathering marking the anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Priests for Life founder: Group 'is in jeopardy'

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Fr. Frank Pavone, the high-profile pro-life priest whose bishop has restricted his ministry because of questions about the finances of the group he runs, told his benefactors in a letter that the organization's existence is in serious doubt.

Pavone, head of Priests For Life, sent a fundraising letter to supporters in early December to tell them that "all of our work at Priests for Life, indeed the very existence of Priests for Life, is in jeopardy."

"Contributions are not nearly where they need to be in order to sustain all that Priests for Life is doing," Pavone writes. "But no matter how much you choose to give, whether a one-time gift of $160 today or a monthly Pledge of at least $27, it is absolutely vital that you respond TODAY" (emphasis included).

Pavone blames "many in the news media -- and sadly even some whom we thought were our friends in the pro-life movement -- to destroy Priests for Life and silence our voice ..."

Pavone continues to raise money for Priests for Life

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Fr. Frank Pavone, the high-profile, pro-life priest whose bishop has restricted his ministry because of questions about the finances of the group he runs, continues to raise money for the group while reaching out to supporters with Web videos, press releases and endorsements.

Pavone, head of Priests For Life, sent a fundraising letter to supporters Oct. 14 to tell them that "in obedience to my bishop, I am carrying on with our shared pro-life mission." He expresses worry that supporters might be misled by "all the misinformation and outright attacks on me and Priests for Life."

"All I can tell you is that just about everything you're reading or hearing is false. All of it," he wrote.

This is at least Pavone's second fundraising letter since his bishop, Patrick Zurek of Amarillo, Texas, recalled him to the diocese in the Texas panhandle last month because of "persistent questions and concerns" about how Pavone was handling millions of dollars in donations to his organization.

Pro-life priest seeks mediation with Texas bishop

WASHINGTON -- Saying that communication has broken down between Bishop Patrick J. Zurek of Amarillo, Texas, and himself, pro-life activist Father Frank Pavone is seeking mediation to resolve differences stemming from questions over the financial operations of Priests for Life.

"The communication and the trust has deteriorated so much," Father Pavone told Catholic News Service Oct. 18. "Obviously, the first normal response that anyone should and would have is let's talk. ... The power of dialogue is very strong in the church and in the Gospel.

"But this is the case where there has been a very consistent and persistent pattern of distorted and selective communication," said Father Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. "After a while one has to say this just isn't working. That's why the natural conclusion is we need a mediator."

Father Pavone's comments came five days after he decided not to attend an Oct. 13 meeting called by Bishop Zurek. The priest said he declined to meet with the bishop on advice of his canon lawyer, Father David L. Deibel.

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