Priests For Life Leader Accused of Financial Mismanagement

The anti-choice leader is being asked to "return home" until accounting can be resolved.

Pavone shown here, preaching against abortion at an anti-choice protest.

The controversial anti-choice activist who leads “Priests for Life” has been ordered to return to his diocese and give up public appearances while leaders try to determine if he has been mishandling the group’s finances.

Via CBS News:

Bishop Patrick Zurek, of Amarillo, Texas, restricted [Father Frank] Pavone’s ministry to within the diocese, where he will be pastor to a women’s religious order and spend time in reflection until the problem is resolved.

In a letter to the nation’s bishops that became public Tuesday, Zurek expressed “deep concerns” about the financial management of Priests for Life and worried about the potential for scandal. He said Pavone’s work has “inflated his ego” and the priest needed to show “appropriate obedience'” by providing information that other bishops had also sought in vain. Priests for Life has an annual budget of about $10 million and has offices in the New York borough of Staten Island.

“The PFL has become a business that is quite lucrative which provides Father Pavone with financial independence from all legitimate ecclesiastical oversight,” Zurek wrote in the letter, dated last Friday. “There have been persistent questions 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.”

Jon O’Brien of Catholics For Choice responds to the story, saying, “Priests for Life’s ultra-right-wing positions on abortion and other issues have alienated many laypeople and priests alike. Its links to the antichoice movement’s extreme, aggressive fringe, such as Operation Rescue leaders Randall Terry and Reverend Philip ‘Flip’ Benham, have been a constant scandal. Ultimately, Priests for Life appears to never have attracted more then one in five US priests. Perhaps it was inevitable that his financial stewardship would also come into question.”