The Vatican has removed United States anti-abortion campaigner Frank Pavone from the priesthood for “blasphemous communications on social media” as well as “persistent disobedience” of his bishop. Source: Crux.
A letter to US bishops from the Vatican ambassador to the US, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, obtained on Sunday, said the decision against Mr Pavone, who heads the anti-abortion group Priests for Life, had been taken on November 9 and that there was no chance for an appeal.
Mr Pavone had been investigated by his then-diocese of Amarillo, Texas, for having placed an aborted baby 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 baby 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 on Sunday, Mr 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.”
His supporters immediately denounced the measure, including the bishop of Tyler, Texas, Joseph Strickland, who referred to US President Joe Biden’s support for abortion rights as “evil”.
Mr 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.
Laicisation, or being reduced to the lay state, is one of the harshest sanctions in the Church’s canon law.