Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This Makes Absolutely NO Sense At All To Me

This afternoon I heard the news that the Bishop of Amarillo TX, Patrick J. Zurek, has decided to recall Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life back to the diocese. In his statement the Bishop said: "My decision is the result of deep concerns regarding his stewardship of the finances of the Priest 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. There have been persistent question 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. These financial questions and concerns have persisted with no clear and adequate answers since the time when Father Pavone was under two previous bishop ordinaries. Since he has consistently refused to subject the PFL to a transparent and complete auditing of all expenditures, I have reasons to be alarmed at the potential financial scandal that might arise if it were the result of my failure to correct Father Pavone’s incorrigible defiance to my legitimate authority as his Bishop."
My 1st question, is where did all this come from? Especially the bit about the audit. PFL has an annual audit. The 2010 Audit was released on 20 June 2011. That audit was sent to Bishp Zurek as well as the Bishops of the other priests who work full time for PFL. All 21 Bishops & Cardinals on the Advisory Boards also received a copy of the audit.
Fr. Pavone in his statement claims "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!" He goes on to talk about the audit that I already mentioned. As he points out "The organization's auditors issued an unqualified audit opinion indicating that the financial statements "present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Priests for Life, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America"."
Like I said, where did this come from? It strikes me that PFL has done all that it should do to ensure that they were being transparent, open, over & above board.
Fr. Pavone was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New York by Cardinal O'Conner in 1988.   In 1993 he became National Director of Priests for Life. In 2005 he became incardinated in the Diocese of Amarillo. To do so he had to have the permission of teh then Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Egan. At that time he took a vow before a Vatican Cardinal with the permission of then Bishop Yalta, to do full time Pro-Life work. At the time I got the impression this was with the aim of starting a full time religious order for priests similar to Sisters of Life. (Apparently that has since fell through.)So when Bishop Zurek took over it was with those conditions in place. That is why this line in the Bishop's statement is puzzling as well: "I would venture to say that the supreme importance that he has attributed to his PFL ministry and the reductionist attitude toward the diocesan priesthood has inflated his ego with a sense of self-importance and self-determination." Add to that 1 of PLFs main thrusts is helping diocesan priests to better get out the Pro-life message & his claim is all the more puzzling.
Another line in Bishop Zurek's statement also doesn't add up with the facts is the 1 just before the previous 1 I mentioned. There he says: "It seems that his fame has caused him to see priestly obedience as an inconvenience to his unique status and an obstacle to the possible international scope of his ministry." What does Bishop Zurek mean by possible? 1st of all, Fr. Pavone serves on the Pontifical Council for the Family, which coordinates the pro-life activities of the Catholic Church. He also serves as a member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life. Sounds to me that Fr. Pavone's ministry is already international. & so is PFL's. That is why PFL went from being a Private Association of the Faithful in the United States to an International Association of the Faithful.
Fr. Pavone has agreed to go back to the Diocese of Amarillo for now. But he has begun a process of appealing to the Vatican under Canon law. As Fr. Pavone notes, he has not been suspended from exercising his priestly duties by Bishop Zurek, just from doing so outside of the Amarillo Diocese.
I really don't want to speculate on Bishop Zurek's motives. I hope & pray that they are sincere & above board. But as I pointed out, his claims just don't make sense. Something about what is going on between the Bishop & PFL just doesn't sit right with me. & something just doesn't sit right with me about the timing either. Given how PFL has been doing so much to ensure diocesan priests know exactly what they can & can't say from the pulpit & the very important 2012 elections, these actions could do much to undermine the efforts to get Pro-life candidates elected. Especially if things aren't quickly resolved.
This last paragraph is as close as I will get to even implying what some of my thoughts on Bishop Zurek's motives are. I know that you will be able to pick up the threads throughut the post. But please, remember that these are soly based on what I know now & subject to change if more information either way comes out. I have seen too many scandals lately to firmly decide one way or the other based on what is currently out there.
Please keep everyone involved in your prayers that the whole truth will soon come out.

Father Frank Pavone Prevented From Running Priests for Life
Father Pavone suspended from ministry outside Amarillo Diocese
Fr. Pavone appeals suspension by his bishop to Rome


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