|Type||NGO, Private Association of the Faithful|
Priests for Life (PFL) is an anti-abortion organization based in Titusville, Florida. It functions as a network to promote and coordinate pro-life activism, especially among Roman Catholic priests and laymen, with the primary strategic goal of ending abortion and euthanasia and to spread the message of the Evangelium vitae encyclical, written by Pope John Paul II.
On April 30, 1991, Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco officially approved Priests for Life as a Private Association of the Faithful, a term drawn from the 1983 Code of Canon Law. The organization was later listed in the Official Catholic Directory. Priests for Life have formed an international association of Catholics called "Gospel of Life", and has requested the Holy See to grant appropriate status and structure in the Church. Bishop Patrick Zurek of the Diocese of Amarillo has said that Priests for Life is a civil institution, not a Catholic organization.
On September 6, 2011, Bishop Patrick Zurek of the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, limited Father Pavone to duties within the Diocese of Amarillo because of a protracted disagreement over financial transparency for Pavone's nonprofit Priests for Life and its affiliates - Rachel's Vineyard, which counsels people affected by abortion, and Gospel of Life Ministries, a lay association for Priests for Life. Pavone remained a priest in good standing, and the bishop did not allege fiscal impropriety, Gospel of Life Ministries lost its tax-exempt status for failure to file required documentation, according to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) records.
A Catholic World News analysis of tax returns indicated that between 2006 and 2008, Priests for Life spent less than 63% of its revenues on its programs. It also found that Pavone did not draw any salary from the organization. Charity Navigator awarded Priests for Life one star out of four for financial accountability and transparency. The Better Business Bureau Charity Review lists PFL as "Did Not Disclose" indicating that the "organization either has not responded to written BBB requests for information or has declined to be evaluated in relation to BBB Standards for Charity Accountability." It explained, "without the requested information, it is not possible to determine whether this charity adheres to all of the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability."
Upon an appeal filed by Pavone the Congregation of the Clergy allowed Pavone to minister outside the Diocese of Amarillo, but recognized that he still must obtain specific permission to do so from his bishop.
In November 2012, the Congregation of the Clergy decided that since the principal office of Priests for Life is in the archdiocese of New York, the archbishop of New York is the competent authority to exercise vigilance over the association. Pavone subsequently complied with demands to straighten out the group's finances and returned to New York to become accountable to his home diocese.
In November 2014 Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and former president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote to the bishops of the United States to advise them that the Congregation of the Clergy had conducted an apostolic visitation of Priests for Life the previous year, and had subsequently requested that he "assist Father Pavone with several necessary reforms." Cardinal Dolan wrote to advise the bishops that Pavone had not cooperated with the reforms. As a result, the cardinal told the Vatican that "I am unable to fulfill their mandate, and want nothing further to do with the organization."
In 2017, PFL moved from Staten Island, New York, to Titusville, Florida.
On February 15, 2012, Priests for Life filed a lawsuit against the contraception mandate, claiming that the Health and Human Services (HSS) ruling is unconstitutional on many levels. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The case was initially dismissed without prejudice. In November 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to review the case, which it combined with six other similar challenges to the Health and Human Services' Contraceptive Mandate under Zubik v. Burwell. Briefs were then scheduled for January 4, 2016.
In early November 2016, ahead of the elections in the United States, Pavone, a member of Donald Trump's 33-member Catholic advisory council, posted a live video to Facebook in opposition to the continued "child killing" in America, urging people to vote for Trump. The Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, subsequently issued a statement that it was opening an investigation into the placement of a fetus on an altar, which was "against the dignity of human life and a desecration of the altar."
Priests for Life Canada is independent of the organization in the United States. The Canadian organization stated that it was "deeply disturbed" by the actions of Priests for Life national director Frank Pavone in displaying the purported body of an aborted child on an altar. Father Thomas Lynch, president of Priests for Life Canada, stated that they supported the investigation concerning the video being undertaken by the Diocese of Amarillo.