Saturday, December 17, 2022

'Father' Frank Pavone Laicized by the Vatican

In this blog post, I will discuss the recent news that Frank Pavone, a prominent pro-life activist and leader of Priests for Life, has been laicized by the Vatican for his controversial social media posts and disobedience to his bishop. I will also provide some references for further reading on this topic.

Who is Frank Pavone?

Frank Pavone is a former Catholic priest who has been the national director of Priests for Life, a pro-life organization, since 1993. He is also a co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, which seeks to expose the harm of abortion to women and society. He has been a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump and has often used his platform to criticize the Democratic Party and its policies on abortion and other issues.

Why was he laicized?

According to a letter from the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, dated Dec. 13, 2022, Pavone was dismissed from the clerical state by the Holy See on Nov. 9, 2022, after he was found guilty in canonical proceedings of "blasphemous communications on social media" and "persistent disobedience of the lawful instructions of his diocesan bishop." The letter also stated that there was "no possibility of appeal" and that Pavone was now "a lay person."

The letter did not specify what actions or posts led to Pavone's laicization, but he has been involved in several controversies over the years. For example, in 2016, he placed the body of an aborted fetus on an altar and live-streamed it on Facebook to urge people to vote for Trump. He also posted a video of himself dancing on an altar with a Trump flag and a MAGA hat. He has also made derogatory remarks about Pope Francis, President Joe Biden, and other Catholic leaders and politicians.

Pavone has claimed that he was not notified by the Vatican about his laicization and that he learned about it from Catholic News Agency, which broke the story on Dec. 17, 2022. He has also denied any wrongdoing and said that he would continue his pro-life work as a layperson.

What are the implications of his laicization?

Laicization, also known as defrocking or dismissal from the clerical state, is a severe penalty in canon law that deprives a priest of all the rights and obligations associated with his ordination. It means that he can no longer celebrate Mass, administer sacraments, wear clerical attire, or use any titles or honorifics related to his priesthood. It also means that he is no longer under the jurisdiction or protection of the Church and that he is subject to civil law as any other citizen.

Pavone's laicization has caused shock and dismay among many pro-life Catholics who admired his zeal and dedication to the cause of defending the unborn. It has also raised questions about the future of Priests for Life, which is not a Catholic organization but relies heavily on Pavone's leadership and fundraising abilities. The statement from the nuncio said that Pavone's continuing role in Priests for Life as a layperson would be up to the organization's leadership.

However, Pavone's laicization has also been welcomed by many Catholics who criticized his divisive and disrespectful behavior and saw him as a source of scandal and confusion for the faithful. They have praised the Vatican's decision as a sign of accountability and justice for Pavone's actions.

Where can I learn more?

Here are some references for further reading on this topic:

- Vatican dismisses Father Frank Pavone from priesthood | Catholic News Agency 

- Frank Pavone says Vatican didn't tell him directly he was laicized | Franciscan Media 

- What does it mean to be laicized, defrocked, or dismissed from the clerical state? | Catholic News Agency 

- Anti-abortion priest Frank Pavone defrocked for blasphemous posts | NBC News

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