The Vatican removed anti-abortion activist, Frank Pavone, from the priesthood after he made incendiary posts on social media. The decision to defrock the Florida-based priest was made on November 9 with no chance for an appeal, U.S. Archbishop Christophe Pierre said in a letter obtained by several news outlets.
Pavone’s removal from the church is called laicization, part of the canon law of the Catholic Church, meaning a bishop, priest, or deacon is removed as a clergy member. It is one of the harshest sanctions a priest can receive under the church’s canon law.
“This action was taken after Father Pavone was found guilty in canonical proceedings of blasphemous communications on social media, and of persistent disobedience of the lawful instructions of his diocesan bishop,” the letter discussing Pavone’s removal said.
Following the news, Pavone posted a tweet on Sunday, comparing the decision to remove him from the church to an aborted fetus. “So in every profession, including the priesthood, if you defend the #unborn, you will be treated like them! The only difference is that when we are ‘aborted,’ we continue to speak, loud and clear,” Pavone wrote.
In a video, Pavone spoke to his social media followers wearing a leather jacket over his priest collar and said he would continue to work for his anti-abortion causes, saying the Church has persecuted him “for decades,” claiming they don’t approve of his pro-life activism.
Pavone has been a leader of the anti-abortion group, Priests for Life, and was first investigated in 2016 for posting a video of an aborted fetus on an altar on two social media sites.
In the post, Pavone said, “I am showing him to you because in this election we have to decide if we will allow this child killing to continue in America or not. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform says, ‘Yes, let the child-killing continue’ (and you pay for it). Donald Trump and the Republican platform says, ‘No, the child should be protected.’”
In a press release titled “I will not be silenced or canceled” posted on the Priest’s for Life website, Pavone claimed some individuals in the Church have been “trying to silence my voice for 20 years,” and said this decision is an attempt to intimidate all pro-life priest activists and lay activists.
However, Pierre stated in the letter that Pavone was given “ample opportunity to defend himself” and had “multiple opportunities to submit himself to the authority of his diocesan bishop.” The letter added, “It was determined that Father Pavone had no reasonable justification for his actions.”