And it's only Sept 19!
(Time stamps seem only appropriate, given how quickly the interval between appeals is shrinking):
September 19, 2011
(Thank you for your support of Priests for Life. If you already responded to the following appeal online, I appreciate your support. This email is intended for those who did not respond when we sent it previously.)
I sent you this urgent email because I have some important issues that concern you, me, our work together at Priests for Life, and the entire pro-life movement here in the United States.
In light of all that’s happened in the past couple weeks – and again, I’ll discuss this with you in just a moment – it is vital that you maintain your unconditional support for Priests for Life and the fight to end legalized abortion-on-demand in America. Right now that means doing whatever is necessary to click here and send Priests for Life the largest gift you can possibly make today. Not an hour from now. Not later this evening. Not tomorrow. But right now!
Forgive me for being so blunt, but there’s a reason for it.
Let's see.... how many direct appeals for cash has Father Pavone and his minions made since Sept 9, when he got reeled back into Amarillo by the bishop for financial improprieties?
We're going to run out of fingers soon...
Some people have asked how Fr. Pavone's situation differs from that of Fr. Corapi's.
Fr. Corapi was part of a religious community. Religious communities typically encourage all members of the community to pool resources. Indeed, it's not unusual for members to have to ask the head of the order permission even to have pocket money.
In Fr. Corapi's case, he has said (and no one has denied) that, although the rules indicated that all members were to contribute financially to the upkeep of the community, the original interpretation of the rules for his community was that each individual member was to financially support himself and contribute some of what he earned to the general funds. As far as we know, Corapi held to the letter of that law, even if evidence exists that holding to the full spirit of that law was not undertaken.
Now, we don't know exactly how the rule read, nor exactly what the original intrepretation of those rules were. But, when his superiors changed the interpretation, called Fr. Corapi back to live in community and demanded funds from him, they were conceivably acting within their rights, and certainly acting within the historic outlines of what religious communities typically do.
Fr. Pavone, on the other hand, is a diocesan priest. While the pastor of a parish has some freedom on how he spends funds, there are limits on that freedom. He can spend money any way he sees fit, up to a point. Typically, any purchase over a certain size has to be cleared through the chancery office (generally fifty or a hundred thousand - something like that). All books have to be well-kept, and dioceses typically order a full accounting of books every few years. In addition, it's almost always done at the end of a pastor's term in order to keep track of any possible fiscal malfeasance. The only lay advisory council any parish is required to have by canon law is a fiscal council to help oversee the books.
Now, Pavone is not running a parish, he's running a private corporation. Since the corporation was not started by the bishop, the corporation itself is not subject to the bishop's direct fiscal oversight. But, the bishop has not just a right, but a duty to make sure his priests are fiscally responsible. This is not just nosiness, it is a question of scandal on himself as bishop and on the diocese and the priesthood as a whole. Every priest is subject to a bishop somewhere.
Because the bishop has this duty, the bishop has every right to inquire about Fr. Pavone's handling of finances. In point of fact, because Pavone is running a private corporation, Pavone can spend the money any way he wants in any amount he wants and bishop has no legal oversight ability. However, he DOES have moral oversight ability.
If he doesn't like how the money is being spent or accounted for, he is well within his rights to assign to his priest such duties as will make it unlikely or impossible for the priest to continue to run his private little side business. This is especially true given that the diocesan priest's first duty is to do whatever his bishop directs him to do in reference to sacraments, the celebration of Mass and the care of souls within the diocese.
Furthermore, there is a sacramental bond between every bishop and his every priest. The sacrament of Holy Orders binds bishop and priest together in a father-son relationship.
If a 17-year old young man lived at home and owned his own car, but Dad was concerned about his driving, Dad might say to say, "Son, I'm concerned about your driving. Give me your car keys for a week." If the son complied and handed over the set of keys he normally used, but then used his spare set of keys to drive the car on whatever personal errands the son was interested in, Dad would be understandably upset.
Most people would recognize that the son's "obedience" was in word only - he hadn't obeyed the spirit of his father's directives, and so had sinned against the Decalogue. Since Dad didn't own the car, we might argue about what level of legal authority Dad had to ask for the keys, but no one would argue that he has moral authority to oversee his son's actions and a strong duty to act on his concerns. Obviously, the young man's teenage friends (fans) would be enraged by Dad's demands and argue that the son was really a responsible man who had done nothing wrong, but any mature adult would recognize the authority Dad had to make those demands.
Father Pavone has obeyed the letter of the bishop's directives, but that's about it.
Contrast this to Fr. Corapi, who at least had the integrity to say, "Rather than give you the car keys, I'm moving out on my own."
While the bishop has no legal authority over Pavone, he has moral authority that finds its source in the sacramental bond between bishop and priest. Pavone has a duty of respect to the bishop and a duty of respect to the sacrament whose marks he bears. By re-doubling his appeals for cash, he is flouting that sacrament, both in himself and in his bishop.
Corapi felt he needed to quit in order to continue his form of preaching.
Pavone feels he needs to keep asking for cash in order to continue his form of preaching.
Corapi had the integrity not to pretend to keep his vow - he openly broke with it.
Pavone pretends to keep his vow while actually breaking it.
So, Pavone is a money-grubbing worm in a way that Corapi never was precisely because he is a priest who has a duty to show respect and he's actually flouting that respect.
1) By refusing to provide timely information to the donors from whom he begged of the bishop's concerns,
2) By continuing to beg for cash at least three times in less than a week despite the bishop's well-known and public concern,
Pavone demonstrates his refusal to obey his bishop in more than minor ways.
Yes, he returned to Amarillo diocese, but he's clearly more interested in running his company than in listening to his bishop's concerns. That's a direct violation of the sacramental bond between himself and his bishop.
Now, Catholic apologists who make their living by begging for cash have given kind and gentle interpretations of Fr. Pavone's actions, lest they offend Pavone's large cult-like following and lose their own rice bowl.
But Corapi, perversely, showed more respect for the sacrament than Pavone has.
Corapi formally recognized that he was not being obedient in a way that Pavone has so far refused to acknowledge and in a way that Pavone's supporters have so far refused to admit.