A defrocked priest whose story has dominated headlines this week has no plans of stepping away from his ministry and has expressed hope he could one day be reinstated.
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Frank Pavone, the 63-year-old Catholic priest who was purportedly removed from the priesthood Nov. 9 with no chance for an appeal, told CBN’s Faithwire he believes Pope Francis greenlit his removal.
But Pavone said he has no plans of stepping away from his role as head of Priests For Life, a pro-life organization, nor does he plan to part ways with the Catholic Church.
“If the pope shuts a door in front of me, I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I’m gonna be standing right on the other side of that door and I’m gonna be knocking. I’m gonna ask him to reopen it, because the people of God are speaking up about this.”
Watch Pavone share his story:
Pavone encouraged people to appeal to their bishops respectfully. Even if there’s no hope for appeal under Pope Francis, he said he’ll go to the next pontiff for assistance.
“The next pope can reinstate me,” he said. “We’re not going anywhere. I’m not going to be one of those people [who] walks away, rebels against the church.”
Pavone continued, “I’m called to be a priest. I’m gonna stick with that. I’m called to be a pro-life leader. I’m gonna stick with that too.”
As Faithwire previously reported, the Vatican made the shocking move after charges Pavone is guilty of “blasphemous communications on social media” and “persistent disobedience” in communications with his bishop.
The startling story of Pavone’s laicization broke after Catholic News Agency reviewed a letter reportedly sent to U.S. bishops from Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Vatican ambassador to the United States, detailing the dismissal.
A statement attached to the letter purportedly contended Pavone was given a chance to defend himself but did not offer specific examples of his troubling behavior. Pierre didn’t state what precisely led to the dismissal, nor did it name the bishop at the center of the claims.
“Father Pavone was given ample opportunity to defend himself in the canonical proceedings, and he was also given multiple opportunities to submit himself to the authority of his diocesan bishop,” the statement read. “It was determined that Father Pavone had no reasonable justification for his actions.”
But Pavone reiterated to Faithwire his claim he found out about the decision through Catholic News Agency and, as of Monday, hadn’t been informed officially by the Vatican.
“It doesn’t matter, because we’ve known for 20 years that there are bishops in the church that hate our work,” he said of Priests For Life. “They’re uncomfortable when I put so much priority on abortion. One bishop told me one time, ‘Father Frank, you’re too aggressive on abortion.’ So I said, ‘Well, as soon as abortion stops being aggressive on the little babies that it dismembers and decapitates, then you come and talk to me.'”
Pavone said some Catholic leaders in the church have gone after him for various reasons — something he has openly spoken about in the past.
In 2011, his ministry was limited due to some of these issues, which were reportedly lifted upon an appeal to the Vatican. Pavone also told Reuters Sunday he has been “persecuted in the Church for decades.”
Political activism and alignment with former President Donald Trump — and a video Pavone made featuring the remains of an aborted baby — have likely contributed to some tensions. That 2016 video, filmed at the Priests for Life headquarters, spoke in favor of Trump, but was shocking due to its contents.
Bishop Patrick J. Zurek of Amarillo, Texas, spoke out against the video at the time and called for an investigation, calling Pavone’s actions inconsistent with the “beliefs of the Catholic Church.”
Pavone later explained the child’s remains were in his possession so he could give a proper burial, which he later did. He ended up stepping down from some roles supporting Trump, though he continued to speak out on social media.
The priest again landed in hot water over some of his posts about Democrats, including tough comments aimed at then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, according to Catholic News Agency.
Pavone called the Democratic Party “America-hating” and “God-hating,” among other comments, including one in which he purportedly said “absolution has to be withheld” if repentance isn’t present for Catholic Democrats.
One of the posts in question surrounded using the Lord’s name in vain, with Pavone reportedly decrying “supporters of this [expletive] loser Biden and his morally corrupt, America-hating, God-hating Democrat party.” Read more here.
Pavone discussed this 2020 tweet in a video Sunday and said this is a reason for his dismissal.
“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,” he said.
Supporters of Pavone have pointed to inconsistencies regarding more progressive political leaders like President Joe Biden, who claim Catholicism and do not face retribution despite enacting policies directly contradicting edicts and precepts of the religious system.
Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, called out Biden as “evil” in his reaction to Pavone’s dismissal.
“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,” he wrote. “Vatican officials promote immorality [and] denial of the deposit of faith [and] priests promote gender confusion devastating lives…evil.”
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