The Vatican has defrocked a US-based anti-abortion priest Frank Pavone for “persistent disobedience” of his bishop who repeatedly told him to stop his partisan activism in support of Donald Trump.
A letter to U.S. bishops from the Vatican ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Christophe Pierre, said that the decision against Pavone, who heads the anti-abortion group Priests for Life, had been taken Nov. 9, and that there was no chance for an appeal.
Pavone has been in conflict with the bishop of Amarillo, Texas, for over a decade over his pro-life and partisan political activities that came to a head in 2016 when he put an aborted fetus on an altar and posted a video of it on two social media sites. The video was accompanied by a post saying that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform would allow abortion to continue and that Trump and the Republican platform wanted to protect unborn children.
On Twitter, Mr Pavone, who now lives in Florida, remained defiant and vowed to continue his anti-abortion activism. Additionally, he remains an ardent supporter of Mr Trump, and wears a red “Make America Great Again” cap in his profile picture, along with an image of him besides the former President.
“In every profession, including the priesthood, if you defend the unborn, you will be treated like them,” he wrote. “The only difference is that when we are aborted, we continue to speak, loud and clear.”
In a subsequent video posted to social media, Mr Pvaone said that the “war” on abortions would continue. He also accused the Catholic Church of “cancel culture”.
The statement said Pavone was given “ample opportunity to defend himself” as well as to submit to his bishop. “It was determined that Father Pavone had no reasonable justification for his actions.”
The statement concluded that since Priests for Life is not a Catholic organization, it would be up to the group to determine whether he could continue his role “as a lay person.”
Laicization, or being reduced to the lay state, is one of the harshest sanctions in the church’s canon law for priests.