The shocking and unprecedented move by Vatican officials, allegedly at the instigation of Bishop Patrick James Zurek, Bishop of Amarillo, Texas, to dismiss Fr. Frank Pavone from the
priesthood has left Catholic pro-life activists stunned.
We call Fr. Pavone’s dismissal unprecedented because we could find no other example of a priest being expelled from the priesthood for a social media post – particularly one that appeared to reenforce church teachings on the sanctity of life and the sinfulness of abortion.
And it was stunning in its hypocrisy, as our friends at NewsMax pointed-out in a recent article:
…many priests have crossed the line on both politics and defying Church teachings, with little or no pushback from the Vatican.
For example, Father James Martin, editor of the Jesuit magazine America, embraces same-sex unions and consistently advocates against Church teachings on homosexuality and traditional marriage.
Martin’s advocacy has been met by alarm from some in the Church hierarchy, but not the Pope.
“I find it necessary to emphasize that Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church, and to caution the faithful about some of his claims,” Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia wrote in 2019.
But Martin has been embraced by Pope Francis, who met with the controversial cleric last month and previously praised his work against traditional Church teachings, encouraging his ministry and urging him to “continue this way.“
Martin has also been active politically and had been a harsh critic of President Trump, calling his administration’s immigration policies "insane," "sinful" and "close to obscene."
Pope Francis decision to laicize Pavone appears to be part of a wider effort to undermine the Church’s traditional stand to protect the unborn.
Earlier this year, Francis welcomed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the Vatican, after her local San Francisco Archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, had banned her from receiving communion for supporting abortion.
Shortly after, Francis not only allowed Pelosi and her husband to receive communion at his mass, but bestowed a blessing on the couple.
While Cordileone was not publicly criticized by the Pope, Francis took the unusual step of passing over the Archbishop to the College of Cardinals, awarding the position to the Archbishop of San Diego.
And, in October, Francis again shocked Church supporters when he appointed a radical pro-abortion advocate to the Pontifical Academy for Life, the Church’s institute that had long advanced pro-life teachings.
CNA reported Francis had selected “Italian-American economist Mariana Mazzucato, known for her work promoting the public sector’s role in encouraging innovation,” to the influential academy.
Mazzucato has also been an activist for abortion rights and fierce critic of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Why is it that the burden of obedience to ecclesiastical authority always seems to fall most heavily on conservatives who wish to maintain the Church’s traditional teachings and rituals, while those who outspokenly traduce Church teachings receive no sanction?
While the obvious hypocrisy in Fr. Pavone’s dismissal will not surprise close observers of the reign of Pope Francis, many faithful Catholics were shocked by the NewsMax report detailing how the Pope – charged with being the ultimate steward of Church teachings on life and marriage – has embraced those who openly deviate from the teachings of the Church on such fundamental issues.
For his part, Fr. Pavone said he remained committed to following his vocation in the priesthood. "This idea that any of this is permanent in terms of dismissal from the priesthood is simply incorrect, because we're going to continue," Pavone told the Christian Broadcasting Network on Monday. "Then there will be a next Pope, and the next Pope can reinstate me."
"We're not going anywhere," he told CBN. "I'm not going to be one of those people that walks away, rebels against the church. I'm called to be a priest. I'm going to stick with that. I'm called to being a pro-life leader. I'm going to stick with that."
Priests for Life
Fr. Frank Pavone
blasphemous communications on social media
Bishop Joseph E. Strickland
Bishop Patrick James Zurek
Father James Martin