Father Frank Pavone, a prominent pro-life activist, known for causing controversy within the Catholic Church, was dismissed from the priesthood in the fall.
As reported by the New York Times, Pavone was removed from the Clergy following receiving a letter from Pope Francis' representative in the United States. The letter ordered Pavone to be removed with no possibility of appeal.
Controversial Priest's Dismissal From Clergy Deemed Final by Vatican
A letter approved by the Dicastery for the Clergy, a Vatican office, was finalized this November 9. The letter included a statement about the removal, called laicization, and father Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life and a former spiritual advisor to President Donald Trump, has been irreversibly removed from the Clergy. Father Pavone was allowed to defend himself in canonical proceedings and submit to his diocesan bishop's authority. Still, it was determined that he did not have a reasonable justification for his actions. This information was included in a separate statement attached to a letter from the archbishop.
Pavone stated that he had not received any communication from the Vatican regarding his removal. However, he added that the dismissal was not unexpected. The priest also said that he had been prosecuted repeatedly for decades, which is not new to him. Despite the Vatican's statement that the decision was final and not subject to appeal, Pavone indicated that he and his supporters would ultimately seek recourse by appealing to the next pope and "the people of God."
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Pro-life Activist Accused of Making Blasphemy in Communication
Mr. Pavone, a priest, was known for his strong support of the late President Donald Trump and frequently engaged in public political debates. He was also accused of blasphemy due to a tweet in which he referred to supporters of President Biden and the Democratic party as "this goddamn loser Biden and his morally corrupt, America-hating, God-hating Democrat party." In the same tweet, he admitted using the "G-D" word in response to someone else. This incident led to efforts to remove him from the priesthood. The letter announcing his dismissal did not mention this specific incident or his views on abortion.
In social media posts, Pavone compared his treatment by those opposed to his anti-abortion stance to being "aborted," stating that the only difference was that he continued to speak out. According to Christian Post, the priest said, "Hi friends ... 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."
Being Too Pro-Life
According to the Associated Press, Father Pavone, a priest in the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, had been investigated for posting a video on social media in 2016 that showed an aborted fetus on the altar. The post accompanying the video claimed that the Democratic Party and its presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, supported abortion while the Republican Party sought to protect the rights of the unborn. The Diocese of Amarillo launched the investigation.
According to Fr. Matthew P. Schneider, a priest with the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Pavone was not defrocked solely for his pro-life beliefs. Fr. Schneider stated that no priest would be dismissed from the Clergy for being too pro-life and suggested that other factors, such as a history of disobedience to his bishop, vulgarity, and misuse of human remains, may have played a role in Pavone's defrocking.
No priest would ever be dismissed from the clerical state for being TOO pro-life.
If you think that's the issue with Mr. Frank Pavone, I'd invite you look at his long history of disobedience to his bishop, vulgarity, misuse of human remains, etc.
— Fr Matthew P. Schneider, LC (@FrMatthewLC) December 18, 2022
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