Vatican Defrocks American Priest

Frank Pavone once placed an aborted fetus on the altar
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 18, 2022 10:15 AM CST
Vatican Defrocks Anti-Abortion Priest
Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life, has been defrocked by the Vatican.   (Greg Kahn/Naples Daily News via AP, File)

The Vatican has defrocked an anti-abortion US priest, Frank Pavone, for what it said were “blasphemous communications on social media” as well as “persistent disobedience” of his bishop, per the AP. A letter to US bishops from the Vatican ambassador to the US said that the decision against Pavone, who heads the anti-abortion group Priests for Life, had been made Nov. 9, and that there was no chance for an appeal. Pavone had been investigated by his then-diocese of Amarillo, Texas, for having placed an aborted fetus on an altar and posting a video of it on two social media sites in 2016.

He posts frequently about US politics and abortion, and the video of the aborted fetus was accompanied by a post saying that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform would allow abortion to continue and that Donald Trump and the Republican platform want to protect unborn children. 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.”

Pavone had appealed to the Vatican over restrictions placed on his ministry in 2011 by the Amarillo bishop, succeeded in getting the restrictions eased, and relocated away from Texas while remaining active with Priests for Life. In his letter to US bishops explaining the penalty, Archbishop Christophe Pierre said Pavone 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.

(More Vatican stories.)

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