The Vatican has defrocked an anti-abortion U.S. priest, Frank Pavone, for what it said were “blasphemous communications on social media” as well as “persistent disobedience” of his bishop who repeatedly told him to stop his partisan activism for Donald Trump.
A letter to U.S. bishops from the Vatican ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Christophe Pierre, obtained Sunday, said that the decision against Pavone, who heads the anti-abortion group Priests for Life, had been taken Nov. 9, and that there was no chance for an appeal.
Pavone has been in conflict with the bishop of Amarillo, Texas, for over a decade over his pro-life and partisan political activities that came to a head in 2016 when he put an aborted fetus on an altar and posted a video of it on two social media sites.
In the Facebook Live post, Pavone said: “I am showing him to you because in this election we have to decide if we will allow this child killing to continue in America or not. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform says yes, let the child killing continue (and you pay for it); Donald Trump and the Republican platform says no, the child should be protected.”
Even before then, Pavone successfully appealed 2011 restrictions on his ministry that Amarillo Bishop Patrick Zurek had placed on him.
Pavone remained a firm supporter of Trump and in 2020 disputed the outcome of the election won by Joe Biden. Ahead of the election, the Amarillo diocese denounced Pavone’s use of social media for political ends, distanced the diocese from him and said his positions weren’t consistent with Catholic teaching.
Pavone relocated from Amarillo and was allowed to move to Colorado Springs, Colorado. His Twitter handle still features him wearing a “MAGA” hat with a background photo of former President Trump, who is praised by many conservatives for his Supreme Court nominees who helped overturn the constitutional right to abortion in the United States.
In a tweet Sunday, Pavone sounded defiant, comparing his fate to that of the unborn.
“So in every profession, including the priesthood, if you defend the #unborn, you will be treated like them! The only difference is that when we are ‘aborted,’ we continue to speak, loud and clear.”
He later appeared in a social media video wearing a black leather biker jacket over his priestly collar against a faux backdrop of St. Peter’s Basilica vowing that the anti-abortion “war” would continue and denouncing the “cancel culture” of the church that he said had persecuted him for decades.
In a statement on his Priest For Life website, he said that his laicization was “the result of an abusive process” and that he was considering unspecified legal action against unnamed U.S. bishops.
His supporters immediately denounced the defrocking, including the bishop of Tyler, Texas, Joseph Strickland, who referred to U.S. President Joe Biden’s support for abortion rights as “evil.”
“The blasphemy is that this holy priest is canceled while an evil president promotes the denial of truth & the murder of the unborn at every turn, Vatican officials promote immorality & denial of the deposit of faith & priests promote gender confusion devastating lives…evil,” Strickland tweeted.
In his letter, Pierre cited information from the Congregation for Clergy that Pavone had been laicized – he can no longer present himself as a priest – after being found guilty in a canonical proceeding “of blasphemous communications on social media and of persistent disobedience of the lawful instructions of his diocesan bishop.” The letter was first reported by Catholic News Agency.
The statement said Pavone was given “ample opportunity to defend himself” as well as to submit to his bishop. “It was determined that Father Pavone had no reasonable justification for his actions.”
The statement concluded that since Priests for Life is not a Catholic organization, it would be up to the group to determine whether he could continue his role “as a lay person.”
Laicization, or being reduced to the lay state, is one of the harshest sanctions in the church’s canon law for priests.
In 2014, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan cut ties with the Pavone, despite Dolan’s own outspoken advocacy against abortion, the Washington Post reported.
In a post on the New York Archdiocese website, Dolan’s former home diocese, Ed Mechmann writes that Pavone is free to post such videos as an American citizen, but that it was wrong to do so.
“It was absolutely appalling, and deserves to be repudiated by all of us who consider ourselves to be pro-life in the fullest meaning of that word,” Mechmann wrote.
Denial of responsibility! Planetcirculate is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.