4:40p: Here is a copy of the response letter Fr. Pavone sent to all U.S. bishops after Bishop Zurek sent his letter (below). Salient points:
Bishop Zurek is my Ordinary, but he is not the bishop of Priests for Life. Many of you know our ministry much better than he does….
Beyond annual independent audits, we have provided the diocese of Amarillo with an extraordinary number of documents, and yet, we have never once received so much as an acknowledgement….
We have mailed, emailed, and fedexed such documentation, in some cases—three, four and five times. We have also made several offers for our accountants and legal representatives to speak with the accountants of the diocese, in order to better answer any questions they might have. To date, we have received no response….
Moreover, in my meeting Bishop Zurek this past Holy Week, in the presence of the Vicar for Clergy of the diocese, I asked the Bishop more than once and very explicitly if he had any further unanswered questions about any of these financial matters. He indicated none whatsoever….
The Bishop of Amarillo has stated in his letter that my “fame” has caused me to become gradually more disobedient to him and that I now have a “reductionist attitude towards diocesan priesthood” and give “supreme importance” to my ministry with Priests for Life.
I would respectfully make the observation that the reason I excardinated from the Archdiocese of New York in the first place was precisely because the previous Bishop of Amarillo was committed to allowing me to exercise full-time ministry within the pro-life movement, and, in fact, to form a community to allow others to live that same commitment. If it were not for his willingness to allow me to do full-time work in the pro-life movement, I would not have incardinated into the Diocese of Amarillo in the first place….
One of the reasons Priests for Life began and continues to grow is that there is a profound desire among the faithful to see the leadership of their priests in the pro-life ministry of the Church….
Moreover, it is impossible for me to believe that there would be no place in the Church for priests to exercise full-time ministry in the service of the unborn. We do it for the sick, the poor, the hungry, and the imprisoned. But where in the Church is the place where a priest can exercise the same kind of full-time ministry for the children in the womb? That is the question that is at the heart of my own calling, and I welcome your help in answering it.
Fr. Pavone in his letter itemizes the extraordinary number of financial documents he has provided Bishop Zurek.
4:26p: Just received a response letter to the bishops from Fr. Pavone’s “formidable… canonical counsel,” to which Bishop Zurek referred. The letter takes his accusations apart, bluntly calling them “untrue” and “an outright and unjustified attack,” also providing substantiation of Fr. Pavone’s position.
[HT: Troy Newman at Operation Rescue]
4:07p: Read backstory here. I just read the letter Bishop Patrick Zurek sent to his fellow bishops re: Fr. Frank Pavone, which was subsequently leaked to the Catholic News Service. (Read jpg here.) His version of events is pretty much the opposite of Fr. Pavone’s.
Whereas Fr. Pavone wrote in his statement…
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.
… Bishop Zurek wrote in his letter to fellow bishops…
… [H]e has consistently refused to subject the PFL to a transparent and complete auditing of all expenditures….
[T]he PFL financial resources have afforded Father Pavone with a formidable civil and canonical counsel which he utilized to rebuff my every attempt at calling for financial transparency.
But Bishop Zurek’s order for Fr. Pavone to begin serving in the Amarillo diocese is also about a perceived ego problem. Bishop Zurek apparently wants to remind Fr. Pavone who’s the boss:
In his relationship to his bishop ordinaries, Father Pavone has gradually lost his need to show appropriate obedience to his Bishop. 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. 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. 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. It is my desire to help him readjust his priestly bearing through spiritual and theological renewal in order to recapture that essential priestly hallmark of respect and obedience. It is also my desire to strengthen Father Pavone’s sense of communio sacramentalis with me so that he may be fortified with a healthy zeal to live in an authentic way his sacramental gift and mystery as a priest of Jesus Christ.
Then Bishop Zurek suggests that flocks around the country be encouraged not to give to PFL?
If you judged it to be prudent, I would like to ask that you would inform the Christian faithful under your care to consider withholding donations to the PFL until the issues and concerns are settled.
This is all quite bizarre. Somehow FP has really gotten under this bishop’s skin.
[HT: The Anchoress]