According to Catholics for Choice, a religious pro-reproductive rights group, the leader of Priests for Life, Frank Pavone, “has been suspended from engaging in active ministry outside the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, as a result of concerns about financial improprieties.”
Pavone has been a prominent figure in the anti-abortion movement. He was scheduled to speak at this year’s Summer of Mercy 2.o event in Maryland.
Pavone is the national director of Priests for Life and is president of the National Pro-Life Religious Council. He has spoken against Planned Parenthood and has backed some of the more controversial members of the anti-abortion movement, such as Randall Terry.
Even though Terry had called Pavone a perfect example of why the anti-abortion movement “is losing” the fight to stop abortion, Pavone has publicly vowed to vote for Terry. Terry, the founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, is running for president as a Democrat as a way to bring attention to abortion. He has admitted his campaign is a stunt aimed at creating “a crisis of conscience for Americans regarding the slaughter of the unborn and thereby hastening the end of legalized child-killing” and attacking “President Obama’s agenda starting with child-killing, but also including our battle against socialism, our enslavement to debt, and more.”
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 women’s clinics “is eager and willing to cover up the prostitution enslavement of young girls — including minorities — so long as they make money doing it.”
According to a press release just issued by Catholics for Choice:
The local bishop, Patrick J. Zurek, wrote in a letter to all of the bishops in the US, “My decision is the result of deep concerns regarding his stewardship over the finances of the Priests 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.”
Pavone began running PFL full time in late 1993, and subsequently moved it from California to Port Chester, New York, and then to the New York City borough of Staten Island. In 2007 he transferred PFL to its current location in Amarillo, where an attempt to start a seminary for priests was abandoned due to a lack of recruits—despite the organization’s $10.8 million budget.
Pavone has used his own image and personality to promote his cause, posting large photographs of himself in a wide variety of materials, especially outdoor advertising. He often described himself in terms reminiscent of a touring performer or campaigning candidate for office. In a May 2006 letter to supporters, the PFL leader basked in the “commitment and enthusiastic response” of his fans. He added that the “dynamic” of his interaction with supporters—hence, not his commitment to the cause—was “what drew me into full-time pro-life ministry.”
The group also points to Pavone’s involvement in a slew of other radical anti-abortion rights campaigns, including the “pro-life freedom rides” and the Terri Schiavo case.