As Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life awaits word from a Catholic bishop in Texas about whether he will be permitted to continue his full-time pro-life ministry for Priests for Life, a Catholic bishop in Ohio is offering support.
The Most Rev. Roger W. Gries O.S.B., Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland, has offered his ongoing support for Pavone. The pro-life movement has been abuzz with the news that Amarillo Bishop Patrick J. Zurek of the Diocese of Amarillo has asked Father Pavone to come back to serve in the diocese and has temporarily prevented him from exercising his duties as the head of Priests for Life. Zurek alleges, but provided no evidence showing, that there are financial irregularities at Priests for Life despite annual audits from one of the nation’s top accounting firms.
In a letter dated yesterday, Bishop Gries wrote, “Over my ten years as Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland, I crossed paths many times with Father Frank Pavone. During all this time I have found him dedicated to the preservation of life for the unborn. He and I both work and pray for the day when we will eliminate this horrendous evil from the face of the earth.”
“Supporting abortion happens to be the politically correct stance to take these days,” Bishop Gries continued, adding, “God would love to restore the peace and love found in the Garden of Eden before the fall. It is our challenge in this age to build up the Kingdom of God. We will only achieve this goal if we let his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Bishop Gries asked for prayers for Father Pavone as he works with his bishop in the Diocese of Amarillo. “The work he had done since founding Priests for Life must continue as we face the future. Please continue to support Priests for Life.”
Bishop Gries is among the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops who serve as advisers to Priests for Life.
“I was proud to stand up with Father Pavone when he asked me to serve on the Advisory Board of Bishops. Every opportunity that comes my way to stand up for life will find me speaking out against abortion,” the Bishop wrote. “Let us pray, pray and pray some more for the mothers carrying infants in their wombs. Also, let us pray for those who perform the abortions and work in those clinics for they need God’s grace to see the evil of their deeds.”
After the initial news, Priests for Life released a statement responding to some of the misreporting in the mainstream media making it appear Pavone has been “suspended” as a Catholic priest or from the organization. Priests for Life said it was widely misreported in various Catholic and secular media that the Most Reverend Patrick Zurek, Bishop of Amarillo, had “suspended” Rev. Frank Pavone, a priest of his diocese, and put him “on leave.”
Later, the Amarillo dioces,e in a statement obtained by LifeNews and written by reverend Monsignior Harold Waldow, Vicar of Clergy for the Diocese, said Pavone is accused of no wrongdoings.
“As the Vicar of Clergy for the Diocese of Amarillo and the Moderator of Curia I want to publicly state that Reverend Frank Pavone of Priests for Life is a priest in good standing with the Roman Catholic Church. He has all the faculties for ministry that every priest of our diocese has in and for the Diocese of Amarillo,” Waldow writes.
“I would also like to clarify a point that because there is a dispute about the auditing process and the complete audit for all the entities of Priests for Life, Rachel’s Vineyard, and the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life does not mean that Father Pavone is being charged with any malfeasance or being accused of any wrong doing with the financial matters of Priests for Life,” the statement continues.
The comments are a confirmation of a statement Waldow already made in an interview with the Catholic News Service, where he said “Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, remains a priest in good standing in the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas.”
Father David Deibel, JD, JCL, Chief Canonist for Priests for Life, agrees and says it is “absolutely false” that Pavone is supposedly not in good standing with the Catholic Church.
“Father Pavone is and has been a priest in good standing. Moreover, the canonical language of “suspension” in this regard is a mistake. Father Pavone has not in any way incurred any ecclesiastical penalty. Nor is Father Frank under the threat of any penalty,” he said.