NEW YORK (CNS) — New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said he wants “nothing further to do” with Priests for Life, which has its headquarters on Staten Island, which is in the New York Archdiocese.
Cardinal Dolan said he had been asked by the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy to assist its national director, Father Frank A. Pavone, with “several necessary reforms,” but he said the priest has not cooperated.
The changes have mostly to do with an audit and the need to establish an independent board “to provide oversight and accountability,” according to Religion News Service and Catholic World News.
Cardinal Dolan made the comments in a letter to his fellow U.S. bishops dated Nov. 20. The letter was not made public. But Catholic World News obtained a copy and reported on it in a story posted on CatholicCulture.org.
“Although Father Pavone initially assured me of his support, he did not cooperate,” Cardinal Dolan wrote.
In a statement sent to Catholic News Service Dec. 16, Priests for Life said it is “working with the Vatican to fully implement all the church’s expectations. The Vatican has been consistently supportive and favorable toward Priests for Life, which is an international private association of the faithful.” It also said the issue was “about control,” not financial accountability.
Priests for Life was founded in California in 1991 “to train, motivate and encourage priests to effectively advance the Gospel of life.”
Priests For Life (PFL) is a Roman Catholic pro-life organization based in Staten Island, New York. It functions as a network to promote and coordinate pro-life activism with the primary strategic goal of ending abortion and euthanasia and to spread the Gospel of Life according to the encyclical of the same name written by Pope John Paul II.
Priests for Life came about in 1990 through the work Father Lee Kaylor, a Roman Catholic priest serving in the Archdiocese of San Francisco; Fr Kaylor found out about a new piece of legislation being proposed in Sacramento, California which he felt went against the pro-life cause - his response was to write to all the other Roman Catholic priests in California, along with his two friends Fr. Frank Felice and Fr. Voight Emmerick, trying to galvanize further opposition to the legislation. Sending the letter turned out to be an auspicious move, as Fr. Kaylor received in response a large number of positive letters and financial contributions to his cause. Encouraged by this, he decided to establish a group which would serve to co-ordinate pro-life action by the clergy both nationally and more effectively - this too met with highly positive feedback, so much so that Fr. Kaylor went to Archbishop John R. Quinn to seek canonical approval for the group. Priests for Life was subsequently approved and granted official approbation as a Private Association of the Faithful on 30 April 1994 and listed in the Official Catholic Directory.
While primary membership is for Catholic bishops, priests and deacons, there is also a lay auxiliary membership, as it has the canonical status of a Private Association of the Christian Faithful. It has about 60 full-time paid employees. Its national director is Father Frank Pavone. Priests for Life exists primarily in order to show the clergy how to fight the culture of death.
On August 1, 2012, there was a Special Order on the floor of the United States Congress headed by Representative Michele Bachmann, noting the 20th anniversary of Priests for Life and the importance of Priests for Life in the world today. There were six members of Congress who spent 35 minutes (collectively) speaking about the work of Priests for Life. These six Representatives of Congress included Rep. Chris Smith, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, Rep. Jean Schmidt, Rep. Louie Gohmert, and Rep. Tim Walberg. C-SPAN broadcast the Special Order live. 
HHS Mandate Lawsuit
On February 15, 2012, Priests for Life became the fourth group in the nation to file a lawsuit against the HHS mandate and the Obama Administration because the organization (Priests For Life) feels that the HHS ruling is unconstitutional on many levels. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Timeline of Events:
- April 12, 2013 The court dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, allowing Priests for Life to file a new lawsuit once the revised regulations are finalized. The same was being done with most of the other religious non-profit cases.
- August 19, 2013 Priests for Life filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the HHS mandate as applied to nonprofit religious organizations.
- September 19, 2013 Priests for Life filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, seeking to halt the enforcement of the HHS mandate while the case proceeds through litigation. The district court consolidated Priests for Life’s motion for a preliminary injunction with a ruling on the merits, directing Priests for Life to also file a motion for summary judgment.
- October 1, 2013 Priests for Life filed its motion for summary judgment, requesting that the court permanently halt the enforcement of the HHS mandate.
- October 17, 2013 The government opposed Priests for Life’s motion and filed its own motion to dismiss.
- December 9, 2013 The district court heard oral argument on the parties’ motions.
- December 19, 2013 The district court issued its decision denying Priests for Life’s motion and granting the government’s motion to dismiss.
- December 19, 2013 Priests for Life filed its notice of appeal with U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”).
- December 20, 2013 Priests for Life filed an emergency motion for an injunction, seeking to halt the enforcement of the HHS mandate while the case proceeds through the appeal process.
- December 31, 2013 The D.C. Circuit granted Priests for Life’s emergency motion, halting the enforcement of the HHS mandate pending resolution of the appeal. The D.C. Circuit also expedited the appeal.
- February 28, 2014 Priests for Life filed its opening brief in the D.C. Circuit.
- April 11, 2014 Priests for Life filed its reply brief in the D.C. Circuit, thereby completing the briefing.
- May 8, 2014 Oral argument scheduled before a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit.
The Priests for Life organization provides an extensive collection of photos of live babies as well as aborted babies, via the internet. Its photos have also appeared in print. According to Pavone: "There is no single thing that I have seen more powerful to change people on abortion than simply showing them the pictures....When people see what abortion does to a baby, they are stung to the heart and their consciences are awakened."