Father Frank Pavone, who leads the pro-life advocacy organization Priests for Life and sits on the board of directors for the National Association of Christian Lawmakers (NACL), was stripped of his priesthood on Nov. 9.
According to a letter from the Vatican ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, to U.S. bishops obtained by The Associated Press, there is no possibility for an appeal.
“This action was taken after Father Pavone was found guilty in canonical proceedings of blasphemous communications on social media, and of persistent disobedience of the lawful instructions of his diocesan bishop,” the letter states.
The letter further states that Pavone, 63, was given “ample opportunity” to defend himself during the canonical proceedings and “multiple opportunities to submit himself to the authority of his diocesan bishop” but that it was ultimately determined that he “had no reasonable justification for his actions.”
The letter did not specify exactly what social media communications were deemed blasphemous or the name of the diocesan bishop.
‘Waiting for Them to Point Out to Me What I did Wrong’
Pavone told The New York Times that he had not been properly notified of the Vatican’s decision, adding: “I’m waiting for them to point out to me what I did wrong that merits something like this.”
In an interview with The Epoch Times in February 2021, Pavone explained how he felt a “call within a call” after becoming a priest and thus asked permission from the Church to dedicate himself to pro-life advocacy.
“We are looking to help the people who are pregnant and afraid; they are in so much desolation and despair they want to go have their children aborted … it’s a terrible thing that they just feel they have no choice,” Pavone said at the time.
“Oftentimes, people tell women, with very good intentions, that the baby is ‘her choice.’ Everyone around her repeats the message ‘It’s your choice,’” Pavone said. “But when you think about it from the point of view of the woman who’s going through this, what she’s hearing is that she’s all alone in this to decide. What if what they’re looking for instead is, ‘Isn’t somebody going to tell me that they’re with me, and that they’re going to help both me and this baby get through this?’”
Pavone has also been outspoken on Twitter about his views on both abortion and politics, including questioning the results of the 2020 election and criticizing the Biden administration and Democrats.
In one post on Twitter in 2020, Pavone used coarse language to refer to President Joe Biden “and his morally corrupt, America-hating, God-hating Democrat party.”
In 2016, Pavone made headlines when he shared a video online of himself placing an aborted fetus on an altar. Alongside the video, he wrote: “we have to decide if we will allow this child killing to continue in America or not. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform says yes, let the child-killing continue (and you pay for it); Donald Trump and the Republican platform says no, the child should be protected.”
Pavone ‘Persecuted in the Church for Decades’
The Texas diocese, which he was serving at the time, later launched an investigation into the matter.
Pavone shared a lengthy video on Twitter on Sunday after he was stripped of his priesthood, stating that he has been “persecuted in the Church for decades” while denouncing so-called “cancel culture” within the church.
He also addressed the 2020 tweet regarding Biden: “I used the word G-D in a response to somebody in a Tweet and for that, they want to throw me out of the priesthood.” Pavone then vowed to take legal action.
Supporters of Pavone, including the bishop of Tyler, Texas, Joseph Strickland, denounced the move to defrock him while taking aim at President Joe Biden.
“The blasphemy is that this holy priest is canceled while an evil president promotes the denial of truth and 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 wrote on Twitter.
However, others within the Catholic Church praised the decision, branding Pavone a “radical extremist.”
Jamie Manson, president of pro-abortion group Catholics for Choice, wrote on Twitter that Pavone is the “embodiment of so much politicization, harm, and trauma within the church.”
“He’s spent decades spreading lies about reproductive health. I’m grateful to the Vatican for taking his abuses of power, money, and violent anti-choice tactics seriously,” Manson added.
Catherine Yang and Reuters contributed to this report.