A 2017 letter to then-Father Frank Pavone warned the now-laicized leader of Priests for Life that his bishop had decided to ask the Vatican to dismiss him from the clergy, giving the priest the opportunity to speak up to apply for laicization.
The letter states that Pavone has consistently disobeyed church authorities and left Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo with no hope of constructive collaboration with Pavone.
“Because of your scandalous conduct, your involvement in partisan politics, your continued disobedience, your lack of respect for legitimate ecclesiastical authority, control and oversight, you leave me no choice but to ask you to petition the Holy See for a dispensation from all Duties of sacred ordination and return to the laity,” explained the May 5, 2017 letter.
“If you decide not to seek a dispensation … I will petition the Congregation for the Clergy to request that the Roman Pope dismiss you from the clergy ad poenam”, wrote Zurek.
The bishop’s letter sheds light on an announcement by US Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre, who told bishops in a December 13 memo that Pavone had been laicized. It also seems to be confirmed The pillar‘s report that laicization was carried out under the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy’s “Special Faculties II” provision.
The letter, published on Pavone’s own website, detailed a number of fronts on which Pavone had reportedly disobeyed his bishop for years on many counts.
It has been claimed Pavone has been banned from any “media broadcast” since 2014, despite the priest’s penchant for regular livestreams of Masses, along with frequent video political messages posted on Priests for Life’s social media channels.
Zurek, the diocesan bishop of Pavone, said the priest had “continuously flouted” this ban for years.
The letter also states that Pavone has been banned from celebrating Mass publicly or wearing religious vestments since at least 2016, and that the priest has continued to do so despite this.
And it blamed a controversial 2016 video as “desecration of an altar” in which Pavone placed the body of a dead baby on a table resembling an altar, where he sometimes said mass while calling on Catholics to do so for Donald Trump agree.
Zurek wrote that Pavone “exploitation of [an] aborted baby” in the production of the video.
“I agree that the deaths of millions of aborted babies is a holocaust, but that reality does not justify your exploitation of an aborted baby,” Zurek wrote.
The letter also lamented Pavone’s “partisan rhetoric in favor of a political candidate and party” and the priest’s “continued disobedience” regarding political involvement.
“You disobeyed my predecessor, Bishop Yanta, who in the past commanded you to avoid partisan politics and the exploitation of aborted babies,” Zurek added.
The bishop also noted that Pavone was in “direct violation of my policy and prohibition” in February 2017 when Pavone celebrated a funeral mass for the late pro-life attorney Norma McCorvey — “Jane Roe.” Roe v. calf – despite the limitations of his faculties and despite Zurek’s negative response to Pavone’s request for an exemption.
Pavone’s laicization became public last month after Archbishop Pierre’s letter to US bishops was published online Dec. 17.
In the Dec. 13 memo, Pierre noted that Pavone has long been a high-profile figure associated with the right-to-life movement, adding that his laicization “therefore be of interest among believers.” could”.
In light of this “potential interest,” the nuncio sent the bishops a brief statement from the Vatican’s Dicastery of Clerics, which said Pavone had been laicized after a “canonical process” found him guilty of “blasphemous communication on social media.” had disobedience to lawful instructions of his diocesan bishop.”
The Vatican statement said that Pavone gave “ample opportunity” to defend himself and had several chances to accept his bishop’s authority, but did not do so and gave “no reasonable justification for his actions.”
Shortly after that letter was published, Pavone streamed a lengthy video in which he said the blasphemy charges followed an incident where he “got really mad at this one guy, that was about a year and a half ago, that was bad , it was bad.”
In the Dec. 17 video, Pavone appeared in a clergyman’s shirt under a leather biker jacket and initially claimed he had not been informed of his laicization by anyone. The priest continued to resist laicization, but eventually removed the title “Father” from his social media profiles and began appearing in non-clerical attire.
While both Pavone and some supporters suggested his laicization was some sort of political persecution due to the former cleric’s anti-life beliefs, Zurek’s 2017 letter alleges a broad pattern of disobedience and particular concern about the 2016 video, including the remains of an aborted baby. .
“Frank, you are incorrigible,” Zurek wrote.
“They have no respect for me, my office, my authority, my supervision. They have respected neither Cardinal Dolan nor the instructions given by the Congregation for the Clergy. I have studied your disobedience and scandalous behavior for years. I can’t do anything with you anymore.”
For his part, Pavone has said he will continue his pro-life advocacy, noting he may eventually be reinstated as a minister by a future pope.
Pavone remains the national director of Priests for Life, a national pro-life ministry which, in turn, supports Rachel’s Vineyard post-abortion healing retreats, oversees a publishing division, engages in television production and broadcasts live daily masses.
Since 2016, Pavone has published tweets, Facebook statuses, videos, and other social media posts calling for support for the Republican Party, questioning the validity of the 2020 presidential election, and disparaging Democratic lawmakers. Pavone was a member of the Catholics for Trump campaign advisory group during the election.
Pavone was ordained a priest by Cardinal John O’Connor of New York in 1988 and has served full-time in pro-life leadership positions since 1993.
Originally incardinated in the Archdiocese of New York, the priest transferred his incardination to the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas in 2005 with the intention of founding a religious order. The plan failed and Pavone soon clashed with Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo, who was appointed head of the diocese three years after Pavone’s arrival there.