Father Frank Pavone, noted pro-life activist and national director of Priests for Life, an American organization; kicked out Clerical administration for “blasphemous communications on social media” and “constant disobedience to the legitimate instructions of his diocesan bishop.”
In a Dec. 13 letter to US bishops, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, added that there was “no possibility of appeal,” and the prefect of the clergy’s dicastery issued the Nov. 9 decision.
“Father Pavone had many opportunities to defend himself in the canonical proceedings, and he had many opportunities to submit to the authority of his diocesan bishop”. “It was determined that Father Pavone had no reasonable justification for his actions.”
Pavone, meanwhile, said he had received no notice of the Vatican ruling.
It is not known exactly in which diocese he was ordained. In 2019, he received permission from the Vatican to move from the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, where he took office in 2005, to another unnamed diocese, according to the Priests for Life website. Pavone hosted the show “Defending Life” on EWTN for several years until Bishop Amarillo, Texas, revoked Pavone’s permission to appear on the network.
Originally based in New York State, Priests for Life is now headquartered in Titusville, Florida, in the Diocese of Orlando. Pavone has served as the national director of the pro-life organization since 1993. In 2008, Bishop Patrick J. Sureck had been at odds with Pavone since becoming bishop in Amarillo. His suspension was revoked by the Vatican.
An outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, Pavone held official positions in the 2016 Trump campaign and was co-chair of Trump’s 2020 pro-life coalition and a member of the Catholics for Trump advisory board. Canon law prohibits priests from actively participating in political parties unless they receive permission from the bishop. In November 2016, Pavone filmed a video at Priests for Life headquarters asking for support for Trump. The video unfolds with the body of an aborted baby lying in front of a pavone that looks like an altar. Shortly after the release of the video, Bishop Zurek said he would investigate the incident, calling it “contrary to the dignity of human life” and “a disgrace to the altar”, adding that “the work and presentation of Father Pavone in this”. The video is incompatible with the beliefs of the Catholic Church.
On his website, Pavone explains his version of what happened in the video. He also posted a copy of what he said in the video.
“Most of the criticism was about placing the baby on an ‘altar,’ and some got into technical complaints about what should or shouldn’t be done on an altar. But as long as they wanted to get technical, so could I. I pointed out that this was a desk in our office, not a dedicated altar in a chapel.
“This table, sometimes used for grouping, is where I made all my videos for the election shows in this educational series.” “I should have made the video of the baby in a different location to avoid the initial confusion.”
Pavone wrote that the baby’s remains were given to him for a proper burial, which he said he did after the video was made.
Pavone resigned from two of his positions on Trump’s 2020 campaign at the behest of church authorities. But he continued to use his social media platforms to defend Trump and condemn the Democratic Party.
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