While millions of Catholics are preparing for the Christmas season and all that entails as far as their religion is concerned, one of the most visible Catholic priests has just has the rug pulled out from under him by none other than the pope himself.
The word from the Vatican is that Father Frank Pavone has been defrocked – which means technically he no longer is a priest. The reason, according to information from the Vatican, is that there were “blasphemous communications on social media” by him as well as “persistent disobedience” of his bishops.
The announcement came as a huge surprise to Catholic media, more so because Father Pavone says he had NO forewarning that this was about to happen, and he is being told that he has no chance of an appeal of the decision.
The priest in question is the man who has for decades been perhaps the most outspoken and well-known advocate for the lives of unborn babies. Pavone is the national director of “Priests for Life,” an organization he founded along with “Missionaries of the Gospel of Life” as well as the project “Rachel’s Vineyard.”
He had gotten worldwide exposure for his anti-abortion work and has supporters among Catholics and non-Catholics as well. The reaction to this move by the Vatican and the bishops is roiling the Church and stirring up major anti-Pope Francis feeling among the faithful.
One aspect of this issue is that Father Pavone has been a strong supporter of Donald Trump and in fact supported Trump during the presidential campaign for his anti-abortion positions. Clearly, the bishops were not pleased with that political association, even though the current president, who constantly declares himself a “good Catholic” just signed a bill which guarantees the right of American women to abortions and the drugs needed in such procedures.
Coming to Pavone’s defense is Sister Deidre “Dede” Byrne. She calls what has been done to him a “travesty.” In fact, she said, “In the wake of this travesty, we still have the most pro-death, anti-nuclear-family president in our nation’s history who professes to be a Catholic in good standing.”
Hello, Joe Biden.
Sister Byrne, who rose to national prominence for her speech at the 2020 Republican National Convention, contrasted the treatment of Pavone by the Vatican with its leniency toward serial abuser Father Marko Rupnik and other clerics. Rupnik was excommunicated in 2019 for sexually abusing religious sisters and then absolved them in confession.
Despite his transgressions, he was forgiven and allowed to participate in the 2022 World Meeting of Families.
Sister Byrne said, “What appears to many of us Catholics who love our Church is selective ‘mercy’ from the Pope of Mercy.”
She urged Catholics to pray for Pavone and other priests who are “canceled for speaking truth.” There are many – and while the average Catholic doesn’t know their names, their lives have been totally disrupted by actions of the pope and the Vatican.
Despite statements by Vatican officials that he can no longer present himself as a priest, Father Pavone continues to strongly refute the allegations. In fact, he vows that the anti-abortion “war” would continue and denounced the “cancel culture” of the Church he says has persecuted him for decades. He said his laicization was “the result of an abusive process” and that he is considering unspecified legal action against unnamed U.S. bishops.
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