A nationally prominent anti-abortion leader in Staten Island has been suspended as of yesterday from working anywhere outside his diocese in Texas.
Father Frank Pavone was called back by Amarillo Bishop Patrick J. Zurek, who said he has questions about how Pavone has been handling millions of dollars in donations to his pro-life organization, Priests for Life.
Beyond that, the bishop indicated that Pavone may have become too famous to be cooperative.
“The PFL has become a business that is quite lucrative which provides Father Pavone with financial independence from all legitimate ecclesiastical oversight,” Bishop Zurek said in a Sept. 9 letter to fellow bishops.
“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,” the letter said.
Priests for Life’s income was more than $10.8 million in 2008, the latest year tax forms were available, Catholic News Service said. Income in 2007 was $9.2 million.
Those same tax records also indicate Father Pavone received no income from the organization those years, CNS said. Pavone said in a statement in LifeSiteNews, however, that it “does provide for my residence and the expenses associated with the ministry, but these expenses are very small.”
Pavone added that he submits financial reports to all 21 bishops and cardinals who sit on the organization’s Advisory Board.
Beyond financial matters, the bishop’s letter got somewhat personal, saying “the supreme importance that (Pavone) 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. This attitude has strained his relationship with me and has give me the impression that I cannot invoke obedience with him because he is famous.”
Pavone said in his statement that he has begun to appeal Bishop Zurek’s order to the Vatican.
Pavone was incardinated in the Amarillo Diocese in 2005 when Priests for Life moved some operations there. He still reports to the Bishop in that city, even though his organization is now based in New Dorp.