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Thursday, April 18, 2024

The Vatican Has Removed an Anti-Abortion Activist From His Position as a Priest

According to a letter from Pope Francis‘ delegate to the United States, acquired by The New York Times, a prominent Catholic priest and flaming leader of the anti-abortion movement has been dismissed from the priesthood.

The letter claims that on November 9th, Frank Pavone, who heads the advocacy group Priests for Life and was previously a religious advisor to former President Donald J. Trump, was removed from the priesthood without the opportunity for an appeal. Laicization is the process by which a priest is officially removed from his or her position in the Catholic Church, and the statement contained in the letter claimed that this action had been sanctioned by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Clergy.

Canonical processes revealed that “Father Pavone was guilty of blasphemous messages on social media and of repeated disobedience of the legitimate directions of his diocesan bishop,” hence the decision was made to take this action against him.

Neither the nature of the messages nor the disobedience nor the diocesan bishop were specified in the letter. Mr. Pavone, who was reached by phone on Sunday morning, said he had not been informed of the decision in a timely manner.

At a time when the movement is trying to figure out its future in the wake of midterm election defeats and internal divisions within the Republican Party, the sentencing of a prominent Catholic anti-abortion activist is particularly unfortunate. Not once in the letter did it say that Mr. Pavone’s departure was due to his anti-abortion campaigning.

This comes after the United States’ Catholic bishops, who have been vocal in their opposition to abortion, recently elected new leaders who are widely anticipated to maintain the hierarchy’s traditionalist stances.

Mr. Pavone, who is a regular at anti-abortion demonstrations and fundraising events, is also active on several social media platforms. His forthright advocacy against abortion has, according to him, earned him the favour of certain church leaders over the years while also provoking conflict with others.

His association with Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of the Roe v. Wade case in which the United States Supreme Court legalised abortion over 50 years ago, has made him a celebrity among anti-abortion activists. Ms. McCorvey eventually became a practising Catholic and an opponent of abortion. This summer, though, the court revoked that privilege.

Mr. Pavone was a staunch Trump supporter who cast doubt on the validity of the upcoming 2020 election results.

Catholic News Agency, a conservative news source, was the first to disclose his firing on Saturday night.

Mr. Pavone stated he had heard nothing from the Vatican regarding his dismissal during a live social media broadcast immediately after the story. Even though he was wearing a leather jacket over his priest’s collar, he vowed to keep fighting for the anti-abortion cause.

The letter, dated December 13, was sent to bishops by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Pope’s agent in the United States (also known as the apostolic nuncio). The New York Times was able to get its hands on the letter thanks to an individual who had seen it but was not supposed to.

Mr. Pavone, during the 2016 presidential race, went live on Facebook and pretended to place an aborted baby on an altar. Mr. Pavone was under the supervision of the Diocese of Amarillo in Texas, and they have now publicly declared that they have begun an inquiry into him. A call to the diocese on Saturday night went unanswered.

Mr. Pavone and Bishop Patrick Zurek of the Diocese of Amarillo have had several public disagreements over the years. The diocese published a statement in the autumn of 2020 telling Catholics to ignore Mr. Pavone’s election rhetoric, which included online remarks about denying the forgiveness of guilt to Catholics who voted Democratic.

After hearing of Mr. Pavone’s resignation, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America president Marjorie Dannenfelser backed him, calling him “the one priest committed most over the years” to taking action and creating support for the anti-abortion movement.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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