December 20, 2022

Vatican Dismisses Pro-Life Father Frank Pavone from Priesthood

Father Frank Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life, was dismissed from his clerical position in the Catholic Church for “blasphemous communications on social media” and “persistent disobedience of the lawful instructions of his diocesan bishop.”

CNA confirmed the dismissal after obtaining a letter to US bishops by Archbishop Christophe Pierre. He wrote that the prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy issued the decision on Nov. 9 with "no possibility of appeal." While many details of the dismissal are unclear, canon lawyer Father Gerald E Murray told CNA "Only the Pope, who enjoys “full and supreme power in the Church” (canon 332, 1), can issue such a decision against which there is no possible appeal."

“Since Priests for Life, Inc. is not a Catholic organization, Mr. Pavone’s continuing role in it as a lay person would be entirely up to the leadership of that organization,” read a statement included with the letter to bishops.

Pavone told CNA that he was unaware of his dismissal until CNA contacted him for comment on Dec 17.

Pavone is now calling out Church authorities and accusing them of trying to prevent pro-life activism among clergy. “We all expect that the pro-abortion groups, like Planned Parenthood, will target, harass and try to intimidate us. And they do try,” he wrote.

“But when such treatment comes from bishops and other Church authorities — which it increasingly does — it’s particularly deplorable,” he added. “Instead of supporting and encouraging the pro-life work of the Church, some of these men try to obstruct and hinder it, and abuse their authority to try to intimidate priests and laity who make ending abortion the top priority of our lives.”

The specific incidents that sparked Pavone's removal do not appear to be public, but many prominent Catholics and pro-lifers criticized the decision and accuse Church authorities of hypocrisy for not removing other priests who openly oppose Catholic teachings.