The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue announced today that it is standing behind the leader of Priests for Life, Frank Pavone. Pavone was recently suspended from “engaging in active ministry outside the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, as a result of concerns about financial improprieties.”

Troy Newman, Operation Rescue’s president, said the allegations are an “unfounded attack” meant to deter Priests for Life “from their critical life-saving work.”

Newman also said in a press release today that he “would expect this kind of slanderous attack from someone at Planned Parenthood or NARAL, but not from a bishop in the Church.”

“This is a very sad day for the innocent unborn,” he said.

The religious abortion rights group Catholics for Choice, quoted a letter addressing the allegations against Pavone in which Zurek explains that Priests for Life had “become a business that is quite lucrative which provides Father Pavone with financial independence from all legitimate ecclesiastical oversight.”

Patrick J. Zurek, Pavone’s local bishop, wrote in a letter to all of the U.S. bishops: “My decision is the result of deep concerns regarding his stewardship over the finances of the Priests for Life organization.”

Newman said in a statement that “Bishop Zurek accused Fr. Pavone of the financial mishandling of Priests for Life assets, but those close to the issue tell Operation Rescue that PFL has great financial accountability and has repeatedly provided the Bishop with their financial reports. Each time, he has failed to acknowledge them.”

Pavone is the national director of Priests for Life and is president of the National Pro-Life Religious Council. In a statement Pavone released with Priests for Life, Pavone accused Planned Parenthood of “targeting the abortion of black babies.” He also said the chain of health clinics “is eager and willing to cover up the prostitution enslavement of young girls — including minorities — so long as they make money doing it.”

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