VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican expelled an American priest who opposes abortion, Frank Pavone, for what it called “blasphemous communications on social media” as well as “persistent disobedience” by his bishop.
A letter to the US bishops from the Vatican’s ambassador to the US, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, obtained Sunday, says the decision against Pavone, who heads the anti-abortion group Priests for Life, was made on 9 November and that there was no chance. for an appeal.
Pavone had been under investigation by his then diocese of Amarillo, Texas, for placing an aborted fetus on an altar and posting a video of it on two social media sites in 2016. He posts frequently about American politics and abortion, and the video of the aborted fetus 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.
Pavone remains a staunch supporter of Trump: His Twitter account shows him wearing a cap that reads “MAGA” and a background photo of the former US president, who many conservatives praise for his Supreme Court nominees who overturned the landmark decision that guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion in the United States.
In a Sunday tweet, Pavone was defiant, comparing her fate to that of the unborn.
“So in all professions, including the priesthood, if you stand up for the #unborn, you will be treated like them! The only difference is that when we are “aborted,” we keep talking, loud and clear.”
His supporters immediately denounced the move, including the Bishop of Tyler, Texas, Joseph Strickland, who called US President Joe Biden’s support for abortion rights “evil.”
“Blasphemy is for this holy priest to be canceled while an evil president promotes denial of truth and murder of the unborn at every turn, Vatican officials promote immorality and denial of the deposit of faith and priests promote gender confusion by destroying lives…evil, Strickland tweeted.
Pavone had appealed to the Vatican over restrictions placed on his ministry in 2011 by the Bishop of Amarillo, managed to ease the restrictions and moved away from Texas while remaining active with Priests for Life.
In his letter, Pierre cited information from the Congregation for the Clergy that Pavone had become laicized — he can no longer present himself as a priest — after being found guilty in a canonical proceeding “of blasphemous communications on social media and persistent disobedience of the legitimate”. instructions from your diocesan bishop. The letter was first reported by the Catholic News Agency.
The statement says Pavone was given “ample opportunity to defend himself” as well as to submit to his bishop. “It was determined that Father Pavone did not have a 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 it could continue its role “as a layperson.”
Secularization, or being reduced to a lay state, is one of the harshest sanctions in church canon law.
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