Pavone's Charities Have $600k in Overdue Bills

By Karen Smith
Amarillo Globe-News
February 6, 2012

Roman Catholic Priest Frank Pavone seeks to fill $608,000 Priests for Life shortfall.

Twice last week, I received e-mail from Roman Catholic Priest Frank Pavone seeking donations.

That’s not unusual. The fundraising marketing company used by Pavone’s pro-life charities – Priests for Life and several affiliates – makes several email pushes per week.

But this one doesn’t appear to do much to bolster Pavone’s claims that the group hasn’t made flubbed management of donations. Pavone is the New York priest whose latitude to perform religious rites has been limited to the Diocese of Amarillo by Amarillo Bishop Patrick J. Zurek.

Zurek curtailed Pavone’s activities in September, raising questions about the financial transparency of Priests for Life and two pro-life affiliates, Gospel of Life Ministries and Rachel’s Vineyard. Zurek went so far as to recommend, in a letter to U.S. Catholic bishops, that it be suggested to parishioners that they withhold donations until the questions are answered.

In the weeks since, Zurek has made few statements, and none of what he has said provides evidence to support his claims about charity management by Pavone, the self-labeled frontman for the groups.

But that doesn’t mean Pavone and his groups don’t have problems with their finances i f you read last week’s e-mails. (I’ll quote from it here. This blog program prevents me from keeping the e-mail's original typeface. However, sections appear in bold typeface only if they were in bold in the original e-mail.)

"Dear Friend of Life,

"I have an urgent request to make of you today. And since there’s no point in sugarcoating things, I’m going to get right to the point.

"Priests for Life needs to raise $608,000 in the next two weeks in order to pay bills that are now over 90 days old.

"In telling you that, I can almost hear you asking: “How did this happen?”

"Well, first of all, money is being spent because we're doing the work that needs to be done to save lives. The financial problem we're facing is a combination of two things, really; neither of which we had any control over. I’ll explain in just a moment.

"But before I do …

"... I need you to please take a moment to click here and make an urgently needed contribution to Priests for Life for whatever amount you can; whether it's $15 or $1,500.

"The important thing is that you send as much as you can and that you do so right now … before you hit the “delete” tab and move on to your next email."

Pavone seeks “the largest gift” e-mail recipients can make “right now. Not in an hour. Not tomorrow. Not next week. … I know how bold it must sound to be so blunt. But the situation is critical.”

Pavone states the outside factors – that he’s already said are out of the group’s control – are 1) the economy being in a rut for almost three years now, and causing donors to cut back; and 2) Unfulfilled pledges, due to the economy, by faithful donors of $10,000 or more.

"In all, over $600,000 of gifts that were promised before the end of 2011 never materialized."

In the meantime, Pavone writes, Priests for Life continued to operate on the expectation that promised gifts would come in as they had in previous years. “And, as a direct result, our bills kept mounting and mounting.”

Pavone states that the bills were kept current for “a long time” and that the organization trimmed staff a bit, cut back on some projects and mission trips, but the charity now is in a “tenuous position.”

"All of the work we have planned for this “make or break” year is being hampered due to the loss of those $600,000 in gifts that I just told you about. They were expected in December.

"That unanticipated loss has put us squarely behind the 8-ball with many of our vendors, especially our printers. Things have reached the point that the printers we regularly do business with are telling us that they simply can’t print our materials because of overdue bills. As a result

"... 150,000 prayer cards we’d planned to hand out at the March for Life never got printed.

"... tens of thousands of brochures pro-life activists are waiting for are on hold

"... as are our critically important “Voting With a Clear Conscience” booklets

"... same with important training materials for Rachel’s Vineyard.

"And the list goes on and on.

"The bottom line is:

"Priests for Life has printing bills of just over $608,000 that are over 90 days old and I’m begging you to click here right now and send a gift that will help us pay off that debt and keep us fully engaged in the fight for America’s soul."

Oddly, Pavone doesn’t blame the slowing donations on Zurek’s as-yet-unproven allegations. He hasn’t previously been shy about doing so and stating unequivocally that the claims are lies. But perhaps mention of allegations of mismanagement doesn’t pair well with his explanation of Priests for Life’s spending of money it didn’t have.








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