Vatican defrocks anti-abortion US priest Frank Pavone for blasphemous posts

Anti-abortion US priest Frank Pavone was defrocked by the Vatican for his “blasphemous communications on social media” and his “persistent disobedience” towards his bishop. 

Vatican ambassador to the US Archbishop Christophe Pierre on Sunday sent a letter to US bishops stating that the decision to defrock Pavone, who leads the anti-abortion group Priests for Life, was taken on November 9 and that he stands no chance to make an appeal.

The investigation over Pavone was carried out by the then-diocese of Amarillo, Texas after he posted a video on social media in 2016 in which he was seen placing an aborted fetus on an altar.

Pavone, in a tweet he posted on Sunday, sounded defiant as he compared his fate with an unborn’s fate. “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,” he tweeted. 

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The measure was immediately denounced by his supporters, which included Joseph Strickland, the bishop of Tyler, Texas, who had called the support extended by US President Joe Biden to abortion rights “evil”. 

“The blasphemy is that this holy priest is cancelled while an evil president promotes the denial of truth & the murder of the unborn at every turn, Vatican officials promote immorality & denial of the deposit of faith & priests promote gender confusion devastating lives…evil,” Strickland said in his tweet.

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Pierre, in his letter, citing the Congregation for Clergy’s information stated that the anti-abortion US priest had been laicised and hence, he cannot remain as a priest after being held guilty of committing “blasphemous communications on social media and of persistent disobedience of the lawful instructions of his diocesan bishop”. The Catholic News Agency had first reported the letter. 

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The letter added that Pavone was granted “ample opportunity to defend himself” and to make a submission to his bishop. “It was determined that Father Pavone had no reasonable justification for his actions,” it said. 

Lastly, the statement concluded by saying that Priests for Life does not fall in the category of a Catholic organisation and hence, the group will now decide if he can continue his role “as a lay person.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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