Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Novena to St Malachy

It has been a while! But I did warn you that there would be lean pickings on the blog because other duties and writing needed to be addressed. That said, I am hoping to get back into things in the next while and get back blogging. 

However, an important blog for today: the Novena to St Malachy of Armagh. It begins today and ends on his feastday, the 3rd November. He was one of our great reformers, a man formed in the spirit of St Patrick, and one who suffered for trying to bring the Church in Ireland into greater conformity with the Gospel. We certainly need his prayers and help at this time given the state of Ireland and the weak and fearful state of the Church here. So please join in the novena to this great saint. The prayer is below. Please spread the word.

Novena Prayer to St Malachy

Glorious Saint Malachy,
ardent yet gentle shepherd of God’s people,
we come before you seeking your
intercession and protection
in this time of trial.

Malachy, angel of peace,
who brought those in conflict
to be reconciled
in the name of Christ,
grant lasting peace and reconciliation
to our country.

Mighty pillar of the Church,
who banished error
by the truth of your preaching,
obtain for each of us the grace
of sincere repentance and renewal
that we may serve the Lord in holiness
all our days.

Most fatherly Archbishop of Armagh,
enkindle the hearts of bishops and priests
that, aided by your patronage and example,
they may labour to form a holy people
            strong in faith
            constant in prayer
            abounding in charity
            devoted to the Sacraments
            and loyal to the See of Peter.

O saint rich in mercy and compassion,
look upon all who are suffering or in need
and obtain for them support, healing and hope.

St Malachy, ablaze with heavenly fire,
be a light to guide us on our pilgrim way
to the Kingdom of Heaven.
There may we be united with you
in singing the praises of God
for ever and ever.

Monday, March 28, 2016

"I Will Be His Spouse"

This evening we celebrated Holy Mass in my parish for the repose of Mother Angelica. For your information, here is the text of the homily I delivered at that Mass. A poor tribute indeed.

"I Will Be His Spouse"

Remembering Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation 

In these days of the Easter Octave as the Church celebrates the Resurrection of the Lord, in the Holy Mass the readings are those of Jesus’ Resurrection appearances and the first proclamation of the Gospel in the early Church as preserved in the Acts of the Apostles. The Lord’s rising from the dead and the kerygma are united as one in these days of celebration. The Resurrection was no mere event that was to be left as another supernatural occurrence to be marveled at. No, it was one which shook the foundations of human history, of the world, and urged the Lord’s disciples to proclaim it from the rooftops.  Everything has changed, death has been conquered, salvation has been won, now, disciples of Jesus Christ, go out to the whole world and proclaim this Good News. None of those who call themselves Christian are exempt from this, no matter what are circumstances are, our state in life, our poverty or poor health, we are called to be evangelisers. As the Resurrection touches our lives, we are to be witnesses so it will touch the lives of others.

If we wish to understand the life of Mother Angelica, who was taken from us yesterday afternoon, we need to understand this call to evangelisation. She was first and foremost a disciple of Jesus Christ and then, by necessity, an evangelist. From the moment of her conversion in 1944, when she experienced a physical healing but an even great spiritual one, she understood there was one thing necessary, the better way – to serve the Master. In her letter of farewell to her mother, as she entered the Poor Clares in Cleveland, the then Rita Rizzo said “I will be His Spouse” and in this she knew that his concerns would be hers, and at the heart of them, the salvation of souls.  She fell “completely in love with Our Lord” and with his people. Throughout her long life, that love for Christ and souls intensified and she never lost sight of her responsibilities as a disciple and a bride of the Lord. 

Though she had retired to a Poor Clare community to live a life of prayer, Mother was open to whatever God was calling her to do to save souls. As other nuns fruitfully win souls for Christ through prayer and sacrifice, Mother was to add a third means – broadcasting – evangelisation through the mass media. Heeding the call to found a monastery in Alabama she never thought that that work was the first step in the foundation of a global Catholic network that would proclaim the Easter message, the Gospel to millions throughout the world. A slot in a local broadcaster in Alabama would give way to a makeshift studio in a garage which became what some in the media in the last day or so have been calling “a media empire”. Lest we be led astray by such terms, Mother would prefer to call it a means of proclaiming the Gospel, of teaching the faith and leading souls to Christ their Saviour. It was faith, determination, zeal and much suffering which bore fruit not just in building EWTN, but in touching the lives and hearts of millions and converting many to Christianity and Catholicism. 

Mother suffered for all this, no good work is ever accomplished without suffering, and she was not afraid to carry the cross. No cross was too heavy to carry, no sacrifice too great if it led to the proclamation of the Gospel and the reiteration of the truth. She detested the lie, the dissemination of falsehoods which undermined the Gospel, and so she found herself in many battles, some of them with pastors of the Church as she called them to fidelity to Church teaching. She was one with Peter, supporting St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI in their pontificates, putting the Network entirely at the service of the Church. 

But in all her troubles, Mother never lost her sense of humour. Grace builds on nature, St Paul tells us, and in Angelica a positive view of life and a mischievous sense of humour were enhanced by her progress in virtue. She saw that a life steeped in Christ could be joyful, happy, even hilarious because this life was one rooted in the Resurrection and the victory of the Lord over sin and death. Holiness was the goal, and though the struggle for holiness was real, that struggle was, in her own words, beautiful. 

Mother Angelica was one of the great evangelisers of the Church in the modern age, and I have no doubt that she will continue to carry out the mission the Lord gave her when he called her; recalling the sentiments of St Thérèse, I believe that mother’s work is just beginning.  But for all that, if I were to encourage you to reflect on one aspect of Mother’s life and legacy, I would have to give precedence to her love and service of the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. In this most wonderful Sacrament we will find the mystery of Mother’s life and the object of her love and service. Here was her strength, her joy, her peace, her holiness. Here was the source of Mother’s zeal, wisdom and confidence: the root of her apostolate. Here Angelica found her Lord and shared with him the most intimate moments.  Let this be her greatest lesson to all of us: to seek the Lord in the Holy Eucharist; to adore him most profoundly; to serve him; to spend time with him; to entrust our entire lives to him who has given his life for us.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace. Amen.

Though officially we cannot say it, my heart already is: Mother Angelica, pray for us!

Mother Has Gone To God

Mother has gone to God. And on Easter Sunday! May the Lord grant her eternal rest.

Mother Angelica was one of those extraordinary charismatic figures who light up the Church and the world at certain times in history. Full of faith and determination such figures understand that they have been given a task and they dedicate themselves completely to fulfilling that task for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. In her work Mother was zealous, wise and even mischievous in a good sense. She made firm friends and inspired millions, she also made enemies and some powerful ones too. Yet with humble trust, a forceful God-centred confidence and wit she carried on. In every battle she abandoned herself to God and she won. Her life was spent serving the Church and no suffering, no sacrifice was too great for her. She marvelled at the wonder of God, immersed herself in the Word of God and rejoiced in the presence of God. She has left us all an extraordinary legacy.

On a personal level I know I should be sad, but today I experience a sense of joy. I truly believe we now have another Saint in heaven, and my first reaction is to pray to her. Of course the Church makes such decisions, but privately I am convinced she will be a powerful patron for all of us in these difficult times. That she died on Easter Sunday is, to my mind, of great significance. May she now share in the beatific vision and intercede for all of us.

Eternal rest grant to her, O Lord, and through her intercession bless the Network and our EWTN family. You have taken our Mother from us, now in your mercy glorify her and give her back to us as our heavenly intercessor and protector.

Mother, thank you for your life of dedicated service, watch over us.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

On The Way Back

As I mentioned some time ago, slim pickings at the moment regarding this blog, however, since I have not blogged in a couple of months, I had better get back in the saddle. So for Lent I will be posting each day, all going well. Given the season, I will offer some posts on the Lenten pilgrimage in Rome, the Station Churches, beginning tomorrow with Santa Sabina where, traditionally, the Papal Ash Wednesday Mass is celebrated.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

New Rite of Matrimony

I see the new translation of the marriage rite is on its way.  OSV has an interesting article on it. There are a few changes (I must check to see if they apply to Ireland also) including the optional use of the lazo during the nuptial blessing - a veil which is held over the heads of the newly married couple. While it has its origins in Hispanic communities, it sounds very Jewish, it reminds me of the wedding canopy which I always thought is a lovely practice. I'm not too keen on the dropping of the Penitential Rite.

One change the US bishops requested has not been included - a change in the entrance procession. I think their suggestion has merit, it reiterates the liturgical nature of the marriage ceremony. Personally I would change the procession at the start, instead of the bride coming up on the arm of her father, I think the couple should meet at the door of the Church and process to the altar together to gather before the Lord for their marriage ceremony. At the moment, I think, the bridal procession puts a little too much emphasis on the bride, hence the now common belief that it is "her day" when in reality it is not - it is about bride, groom and God.

Anyway, most people would not agree with me there I'm sure, but I'm just putting it out there. We shall see what the new rite is like. I hope it will be available online to allow easy access for couples preparing for the marriage ceremony.

Another thing I have noticed recently is the proliferation of alternative texts for readings. I have had a few couples come, quite innocently, with texts which they were told were readings from Scripture but were not. I recently had a case where a native-American blessing was being passed off as an extract from Tobit - one couple apparently used it at their wedding ceremony. The couple I was working with were stunned to discover it wasn't Scripture and had no problem changing it. I have also noticed that reworked pieces of Scripture are also being passed off as the real thing. So couples and priests have to be wary. The new rite will, I hope, get us back on track. Here is a website with some extracts.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Slim pickings at the moment when it comes to the blog. I have been engaged in a writing project which has been on the back burner for some time, so that took me away from my regular interventions here. There are more projects waiting to be finished also, so it may be slim pickings for a while yet. That and parish work keeps me busy.

I have been keeping up with developments in recent weeks and a lot has happened. In recent days one piece in particular interested me and I would like to share a few reflections with you. It was an article Edward Peters, the canon lawyer, wrote on his blog concerning priests and conscience. In the piece he reminded us all that priests have consciences too, and these consciences must be respected. As I read the piece I was thrilled to see that someone is looking at things from a priest's perspective and defending us. 

To be honest, as a priest I have to say the last number of years have been difficult. We have been on the receiving end of a lot of abuse, mired in controversy, dragged through the media. Pope Benedict tried to ease the stress by the Year of the Priest, a year dedicated to help us renew, but the scandals destroyed that. Pope Francis's tirades against us haven't helped either. Talking with brother priests I see the morale is very very low, in fact I have never seen it as low as it is, and this has me worried. Most priests are hard working men who do their best, but get little support. Some laity and bishops are very good, but there is an attitude in the Church which regards priests as functionaries and we are expected to just get on with it. Dr Peters's article is welcome because it does not treat us as functionaries, but as members of the Church. You can read his piece here, if you haven't already read it.

This is the crucial bit:  "Many clerics, Deo gratias, and other ministers of the Eucharist, recognize the significance of their sacramental office and know—as all Catholics should know—that their actions, too, are carried out before a God who sees all".  In conscience a priest cannot do what is wrong, regardless of who asks him be it divorced and remarried Catholics, bishops, brides looking for the perfect wedding, grieving families organising a funeral. A priest has to be faithful to God, Church teaching and the laws of the liturgy; if he is not, then he sins. 

Too often as a priest I have been asked to break the rules of the Church for people; they ask it as a favour, or to keep the bride happy on her big day, or as a gesture of compassion towards a grieving family. What does a priest do? Do I do what I know in my conscience to be wrong to keep people happy? I have been told other priests do it, but should that be the measure of my moral observance - if others are doing it, then it is okay? Speaking with those who make such demands I gently remind them that such things are not possible: I cannot do it because I know it to be wrong. But they have no concern for the state of my soul; they want it, demand it and I must conform if I am a "Christian". When I tell them I would be committing a sin if I did it, they make little of it; it is not important. My right to follow my conscience must fall to their desires.

I remember in a few cases, for example, explaining to bereaved families why eulogies are not permitted in our diocese - our bishop does not allow them. In each case I have been asked to make an exception for them - so I put it in context for them: "Are you asking me to be disobedient to my bishop?" The answer is usually "Yes" but expressed in that round-about way only the Irish have mastered. Refusal on my part is usually interpreted on their part as a lack of compassion, a betrayal of Christ's values of being nice and conciliatory. 

Priests have consciences too. If a priest does something that he knows is wrong or not permitted by the Church then he sins. Am I as priest expected to bear the burden of such sinning when I, like every other Christian, have enough sin to deal with in my personal life? Am I just a functionary? Some say that if the bishop permits it then it is okay. That is true if the bishop has the competence to dispense. However in some areas, like communion for the divorced and remarried (since it is being discussed now), a bishop cannot dispense from the moral law of God; then no, not even the orders of a bishop can compel a priest to "give in". I know of one case, for example, where a bishop ordered a priest to give communion to a married woman living very publicly in a second relationship. The priest rightly resisted and suffered for it. The bishop thought that the priest's conscience could be set aside with an episcopal decree.

Not so. If I, in conscience, know something is wrong or not permitted, then I must remain true to my conscience regardless of what others think or do. As a Christian I must be permitted to follow my conscience, just because I am priest does not mean that I can put it in a box and forget about it when performing my priestly duties or celebrating the liturgy. Some may say that some of these issues are small things, they do not really register on the radar; however, Christ himself said that he who is faithful in small things can be trusted with great. The small things do matter, even more so than the great because, for most of us, our lives are usually measured in small things. Few of us rarely have to face major moral problems, but we do face the small ones every day, and our conscience is not a faculty given to be taken out for the big events of one's life, it is a constant companion that is meant to keep us on the right road, and on the right side of the road. 

So thanks to Dr Peters for his piece; it is most welcome.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Pope and That Communion Issue

Some coverage is being given to the Pope's response to a Lutheran lady who asked him if she could receive Holy Communion with her Catholic husband. Here is an extract from a Catholic Herald article which sums up what happened:
The Pope was asked whether a Lutheran and Catholic married couple might “finally participate together in Communion”. The questioner referred to “the hurt we’ve felt together due to [our] difference of faith”.
Francis said it was “not my competence” to give permission to do this, and admitted: “I ask myself and don’t know how to respond – what you’re asking me, I ask myself the [same] question.”
The Pope then stressed the role of personal discernment rather than repeating Church teaching that Protestant spouses can only receive Holy Communion if they do not “have recourse for the sacrament” at their own church.
He said: “There are questions that only if one is sincere with oneself and the little theological light one has, must be responded to on one’s own.”
When I read this first I immediately thought of President Barack Obama's response to a question on the abortion issue regarding the status of the unborn child and its rights: it's "above my pay grade".

Now we have to note that the Pope is correct when he says he does not have the competence to give permission to allow her to receive. He is right, as a servant of the Church he cannot change Church teaching on this issue, and the teaching is clear: inter-communion is not permitted. There is a provision for a very rare occasion when a non-Catholic can receive the Eucharist for a special event - a wedding perhaps when a non-Catholic marries a Catholic in a Catholic ceremony, but there are strict conditions which must be fulfilled, including an explicit belief in the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist. This provision was and is not envisioned to be utilized on a regular basis.

However, the Pope's response to the lady has created confusion. He should have told her that she could not receive the Eucharist while sharing her pain at the divisions which exist and prevent Lutherans from being in full communion with the Church. The Pope not only has the competence to do this, he has the duty, but on this occasion the Pope has created confusion among the faithful, and indeed may well have misled many on this issue. This is not a matter of conscience, it is a matter of objective reality, a reality that exists because of serious divisions that exist between the Catholic Church and Protestant communities. 

However the damage has been done and now the media have jumped on what he said and are running with the line that Lutherans can discern for themselves whether they can come forward for the Catholic Eucharist, relativising the whole issue. Was this intentional on the Pope's part? I cannot say, I cannot read his mind I can only observe what he says and does and drawing on what I observe I know he is no fool, he knows what he is doing and he knows what he is saying. 

I think we need a Paul to have a talk with Peter on this issue, and on a number of others.

Here is Edward Pentin's article on what happenedFr Z has an interesting take on all this.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Saint For The Family

I was given a beautiful gift today from a friend who is a monk. He has just returned from a pilgrimage to Rome and Italy and in his kindness he brought back a precious relic for me: a first class relic (ex ossibus) of Blessed Elisabetta Renzi, the foundress of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows (the Addolorata Sisters). What a wonderful gift: thank you Dom Benedict!

Blessed Elisabetta is one of our more recent Beati, raised to the altars by St John Paul II in 1989. Her life was truly extraordinary, one with many challenges for her, challenges that provided an opportunity for her to grow in holiness. You can find a brief biography here at her sisters's website, but take note of her attempts to enter religious life. Her first attempt was thwarted by the rise of secularism and the assault of Napoleon on the Church. Sent home she spent years living with the disappointment, driven by a deep desire to live the consecrated life but held back by the intrusion of temporal governments into the internal life of the Church. But God saw the suffering of his servant and he was preparing a great mission for her.

I know people struggling with a vocation, some are looking for somewhere to go, but do not know which direction to take. Others are terrified to take a step and so try to stave off the "remorseful day" by what seems to be an endless process of "discernment". Some are being prevented by parents or family members who do not want to lose a son or daughter to the Church. And then there are those with genuine vocations who are being rejected from seminaries, Orders and congregations because their theological outlook is not in keeping with prevailing fashions - they are not progressive enough. I think Blessed Elisabetta is for all of those struggling with a vocation. I think she says to those putting off the moment to just get up and go; and to those rejected by seminaries or orders to go elsewhere - there are plenty of other congregations and other dioceses more open to orthodox Catholics.

But Elisabetta has something else to say to us today, and this what resonated with me today as I was venerating her relic. She founded a congregation to minister to young women, in her own work she believed that if girls and women became good, holy women, then their families, inspired by the mother, would become good and holy families. Authentically holy parents have the best chance of producing holy children, well adjusted children, as we see in the example of Sts Louis and Zelie Martin. This is not an old hat idea, it is a teaching that is at the heart of the Second Vatican Council which saw the family as the "domestic church" where children are born and reared, formed in Christian and human virtues, and prepared, not only for good and successful lives in the world, but also for heaven. 

Blessed Elisabetta, then, is one of the great Saints of the family, and I think in these times we could turn to her to help troubled families, and to guide the Church as she seeks to reach out to them. So perhaps you might all say a prayer to her after you read this: pray for our families, particularly those are are facing difficulties; for the Church; for the Pope, our Bishops and priests; for our laity working in the area of family support. The Sisters of her congregation are now looking for a miracle which will lead to her canonisation,so you might say a little prayer for that too.

What Is Authentic Christian Reform?

Cardinal Avery Dulles with Pope St John Paul II

What is authentic Christian reform? In the last few centuries that word, "reform", has bandied about willy-nilly and has become the catch-call of a certain type of revolutionary. It goes without saying that reform is a necessary part of life and most essential in the life of the Church. At the moment in the Church we are hearing a lot about reform and that the Holy Father has been sent to us to spearhead, at last, an authentic reform in the Church, one which will bring the institution into the modern world, make it more compassionate, pastoral and real.

To make the Church of Jesus Christ modern, compassionate, pastoral and real.....?

So what is authentic reform? Well I am indebted to the folks over at Catholicus Nua for a post directing me to the teaching of Cardinal Avery Dulles, one of the greatest modern theologians who, drawing on the work of another great theologian, Yves Congar OP, offers a number of principals which need to be assessed to see if the current programme being proposed by some in the Church is actually authentic Christian reform, or just another attempt to undermine the teaching of the Church, teaching that is grounded in revelation. You can read the Catholicus Nua post here, or you can read Cardinal Dulles's original article in First Things here. But I have copied and pasted, for your convenience, some of the main points:
1) According to Congar, “the great law of a Catholic reformism will be to begin with a return to the principles of Catholicism.” Vatican II, echoing his words, taught that “every renewal of the Church essentially consists in an increase of fidelity to her own calling” (UR 6).
Catholicism derives its principles from God by way of revelation. The most authoritative guidance comes from Holy Scripture understood in the light of apostolic tradition, inasmuch as this is the normative channel whereby revelation is transmitted. In his reform of the liturgy, Pius X issued a call to return to the sources (Revertimini ad fontes). Pius XII declared that speculation becomes sterile if it neglects to return continually to the sacred sources of Scripture and tradition, which contain inexhaustible treasures of truth.
2) Any reform conducted in the Catholic spirit will respect the Church’s styles of worship and pastoral life. It will be content to operate within the Church’s spiritual and devotional heritage, with due regard for her Marian piety, her devotion to the saints, her high regard for the monastic life and the vows of religion, her penitential practices, and her eucharistic worship. A truly Catholic reform will not fanatically insist on the sheer logic of an intellectual system but will take account of concrete possibilities of the situation, seeking to work within the framework of the given.
3) A genuinely Catholic reform will adhere to the fullness of Catholic doctrine, including not only the dogmatic definitions of popes and councils, but doctrines constantly and universally held as matters pertaining to the faith. In this connection cognizance will be taken of the distinction made by Vatican II between the deposit of faith and the formulations of doctrine. Because human thought and language are inevitably affected by cultural and historical factors, it may be necessary from time to time to adjust the language in which the faith has been proclaimed. Repeated in a new situation, the old formulations can often be misleading, as instanced by the examples of Baius and Jansenius in the seventeenth century. These scholars quoted Augustine to the letter but did not take account of the changed meaning of his words.
4) True reform will respect the divinely given structures of the Church, including the differences of states of life and vocations. Not all are equipped by training and office to pronounce on the compatibility of new theories and opinions with the Church’s faith. This function is, in fact, reserved to the hierarchical magisterium, though the advice of theologians and others will normally be sought.
5) A reform that is Catholic in spirit will seek to maintain communion with the whole body of the Church, and will avoid anything savoring of schism or factionalism. St. Paul speaks of anger, dissension, and party spirit as contrary to the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:20). To be Catholic is precisely to see oneself as part of a larger whole, to be inserted in the Church universal.
6) Reformers will have to exercise the virtue of patience, often accepting delays. Congar finds Luther especially lacking in this virtue. But even Luther, stubborn and unyielding though he often was, cautioned his disciple Andreas Karlstadt on the importance of proceeding slowly, so as not to offend simple believers who were unprepared for changes that were objectively warranted. Prudent reformers will recognize that they themselves stand under correction, and that their proposals, even if valid, may be premature. As Newman reminded his readers, there is such a thing as a good idea whose time has not yet come. Depending on the circumstances, Church authorities may wisely delay its acceptance until people’s imaginations become accustomed to the innovation.
7) As a negative criterion, I would suggest that a valid reform must not yield to the tendencies of our fallen nature, but must rather resist them. Under color of reform, we are sometimes tempted to promote what flatters our pride and feeds our self-interest, even though the gospel counsels humility and renunciation. Persons who have prestige, influence, and power usually want to retain and increase these; those who lack them want to acquire them. Both groups must undergo conversion.
8) For similar reasons we must be on guard against purported reforms that are aligned with the prevailing tendencies in secular society. One thinks in this connection of the enormous harm done in early modern times by nationalism in religion, a major factor contributing to the divisions of the Reformation era and to the enfeeblement of the Catholic Church during the Enlightenment. The liturgical and organizational reforms of Joseph II in Austria, the Civil Constitution on the Clergy enacted in France in 1790, the extreme liberalism of Félicité de Lamennais early in the nineteenth century, and the evolutionary religion of the Modernists at the dawn of the twentieth century ” all these movements afford examples of initiatives perfectly attuned to the spirit of their times but antithetical to the true character of Catholic Christianity.
In our day the prevailing climate of agnosticism, relativism, and subjectivism is frequently taken as having the kind of normative value that belongs by right to the word of God. We must energetically oppose reformers who contend that the Church must abandon her claims to absolute truth, must allow dissent from her own doctrines, and must be governed according to the principles of liberal democracy.
False reforms, I conclude, are those that fail to respect the imperatives of the gospel and the divinely given traditions and structures of the Church, or which impair ecclesial communion and tend rather toward schism. Would-be reformers often proclaim themselves to be prophets, but show their true colors by their lack of humility, their impatience, and their disregard for the Sacred Scripture and tradition.
So, can we see any of these in what is being proposed? Can we see any of them in the manner in which certain things are being proposed?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Priests For Life Cleared

You may remember that he and the organisation were in some strive recently and Fr Pavone's bishop and even the Archbishop of New York were none too pleased with him. Accusations of financial mismanagement were being hurled about and demands for independent audits were being made. Fr Pavone rejected the first accusation and answered the second by insisting that independent audits of the association's accounts were made every year and all this information was available. Fr Pavone mused on whether this was an issue of control rather than irregularities in his organisation. He was suspended by his bishop and sent to live with a contemplative community in what many saw as an exile. That exile was suddenly lifted and he was restored to ministry but no light as been shed as to why the decision was reversed.

Well the Holy See has found that Priests for Life are completely above board on the financial issues, they have found that there are no substance to the allegations and that Fr Pavone is directing a work which is of great benefit to the pro-life cause and the Church: a ringing endorsement. Here is the text of the letter from the Holy See:
Dear Father Pavone,
In response to your recent update about your many activities, I wish to encourage you and your team to continue the fruitful work that Priests for Life is doing.
You have every reason to proceed with confidence, because you have welcomed the assistance of the Church to strengthen your ministry as it continues to grow around the world. At the inception of Priests for Life in 1991, when it was given recognition as a Catholic Association of the Faithful, it was a relatively small apostolate focused within the United States on assisting priests to proclaim the Gospel of Life.
Since then it has grown and diversified into an entire family of ministries, and an international apostolate. While continuing to be faithful to your original vision of assisting and training the clergy, you have sought to follow the Spirit’s lead and respond to the needs of the pro-life movement, and therefore have integrated into your ministry the work of Rachel’s Vineyard, Silent No More, the Youth Outreach of Stand True, outreach to Hispanic and African-American communities, and much more.
Of particular note, you have integrated into your family of ministries the international work of Marie Smith and the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues, assisting lawmakers in many other countries to defend the most vulnerable human lives. You have also become an NGO at the United Nations and continue to assist the Holy See Mission.
As you do all of this, the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy has encouraged you to update your statuses so that they reflect this tremendous growth and development. As the Congregation has indicated, if you eventually want to apply to the Vatican for recognition as an international Association of the Faithful, then those revised statutes can be presented to the competent authority.
In the meantime, however, the value of your apostolate continues to be recognized. As the Visitation Report from the Congregation for the Clergy states:
PFL is present in more than 50 nations, and its work benefits the Church both in the United States and beyond … Without doubt, PFL has offered to the Church a great service in the Pro-Life movement. By all indications, Father Pavone is a truly charismatic leader who has led PFL to significant heights … [The work and finances of PFL are in order … The Association has been well administered financially … [The administrative costs of PFL are in keeping with other groups receiving similar funding in the United States.” (Visitation Report, Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, November 2013).
Moreover, as the Congregation has indicated in a subsequent letter, “there is nothing to prevent ‘Priests for Life, Inc’, together with its numerous affiliated agencies, from continuing to labor on behalf of the pro-life movement,”  with “the many excellent works which Priests for Life continues to do in promoting respect  for the sanctity of human life.” (Letter of His Eminence, Cardinal Beniamino Stella, Prefect, Sacred Congregation for the Clergy to Fr. Pavone , February 6, 2015, Prot. N. 20150367). Please know, then, of my continued support as an ecclesiastical advisor and friend. I encourage all the supporters of Priests for Life to increase that support and work harder than ever to build on the progress you have already made in bringing about a Culture of Life.
Renato R. Card. Martino
Sadly the whole fiasco did a lot of damage to Priests for Life and to the pro-life cause. As to why the accusations were made against Fr Pavone and the organisation is unclear, and I imagine it will remain so. We will see if his bishop or the Archbishop of New York make any statement to clarify things, and perhaps offer an explanation as to why they were so insistent in their accusations and why New York cut off all contact with the organisation.