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Father Pavone appeals to Vatican

September 14, 2011

Father Frank Pavone has announced that he will appeal Bishop Patrick Zurek’s decision to suspend his ministry outside the Diocese of Amarillo.

“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,” Father Pavone said. “That’s a commitment I promise to fulfill without wavering.”

Citing ten years of clean audits, Father Pavone added 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. To this end, Priests for Life has consistently provided every financial document requested by Bishop Zurek, including annual financial audits, quarterly reports, management documents--even entire check registers … Priests for Life has been completely transparent with Bishop Zurek and any other bishops who have requested information regarding our management and finances.

The claim that Priests for Life has provided Bishop Zurek with complete financial accounts directly contradicts the bishop's charge that the organization has not given him a thorough accounting of its financial affairs.

“In the interest of preserving my good reputation as well as protecting the valuable work done by the Priests for Life organization, I have begun a process of appeal to the Vatican,” Father Pavone continued. “This process aims to correct any mistaken decisions of the bishop in my regard and to protect my commitment to full-time pro-life activity for my whole life. We are very confident that the Vatican will resolve this matter in a just and equitable fashion. Because of this confidence, we are not currently making any changes in any positions at Priests for Life, or in any of our projects and plans.”

“Because I have begun this process of appeal to Rome, the Bishop’s order that I return to Amarillo has been effectively suspended,” he added. “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.”

Canonist Edward Peters has observed that although Bishop Zurek probably should not have used the word "suspend" in his announcement (since no suspension has occurred), he is well within his rights to bring Father Pavone back to Amarillo. Father Pavone, Peters notes, has the right to appeal the use of the word "suspend," but no evident basis for an appeal of the bishop's order calling him back to the diocese.


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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: annemarie - Sep. 14, 2011 10:17 PM ET USA

    I pray that Father Pavone will receive justice, but I’m not holding my breath! I firmly believe that the bishops want to control the money flow from Priests for Life. Many bishops are on a ‘power trip.’ St. John Fisher, St. John Chrysostom, pray for bishops!

  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Sep. 14, 2011 7:16 PM ET USA

    I respect Fr. Pavone for his obedience in returning to Amarillo as he was directed. I also respect his courage in standing up for his committment to our Lord's pro-life service. I don't pretend to know the particulars of this public power struggle, but I already feel the damage done to pro-life work at a time when so much positive momentum had been gained. Pray tonight for the mothers and fathers and unborn babies whose lives and souls are now at more risk. May God have mercy on us all.

  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Sep. 14, 2011 2:01 PM ET USA

    I don't know the pros or cons of Fr. Pavone's situation. I pray that justice may triumph. I do remember, however, that when Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J. was unfairly squelched by his Jesuit superiors a number of years ago, that Fr. Fessio immediately went to his "exile" as Chaplain to a group of nursing Sisters. He did not publicly complain or appeal -- he just went. His situation was soon righted. (Of course, the fact that he had been a student of Professor Ratzinger didn't hurt...)