Fr. Frank Pavone, one of the most prominent U.S. Catholic priests organizing to defend life, says he’s still never been told which specific social media posts were deemed “blasphemous,” leading to his shocking defrocking by the Vatican in December.
A letter obtained last month by Catholic News Agency said Pavone was dismissed for his social media activity and “persistent disobedience of the lawful instructions of his diocesan bishop.” Pavone says he’s been in the crosshairs of some U.S. bishops for decades over his open pro-life and sometimes corresponding political views.
“It would be nice if they told me,” Pavone told Ben Shapiro on “The Sunday Special,” affirming that it has still not been articulated to him which posts of his are supposedly blasphemous.
Shapiro asked Pavone about a video that’s been brought up, where the priest placed an aborted baby on an altar. Pavone said he’s been doing this exercise “for decades,” adding that it’s important for people to know what abortion actually looks like. He said that the altar was a table at his organization Priests for Life, and was not consecrated. “We have to elect people who are willing to protect these babies,” Pavone said.
“Their reasons have shifted over these 21 years,” Pavone went on, speaking about the push-back he’s received from some bishops. “It’s always been something else; it’s always been a shifting goalpost. … When one question is settled, they bring up a different concern.”
“In the latest, they actually said I had blasphemous communications on social media,” Pavone noted. “I’m honestly not aware of any blasphemy I’ve committed.”
“They keep saying to me, ‘Oh, you’re being disobedient, you’re being disobedient.’ They say to me, ‘You can’t try to save babies,’” he told Shapiro. “We run the largest pro-life ministry in the world for healing people after abortion. … We run these healing retreats — that’s part of our ministry.”
“If the question of obedience is, ‘Well, you can’t save these babies’ lives’ — ultimately, it comes down to the question of conscience,” Pavone said. “Obedience in any sphere of life never wipes away conscience, and this is something very very basic and simple.”
“If I see a child over there whose life is in danger and I wanna go over and save it — trespass laws fall by the wayside, all kinds of things fall by the wayside, because saving his life takes priority,” he illustrated.
“And that’s really been the nub of the problem, for some reason. Some of them don’t want me focusing on abortion,” the Catholic added.
Pavone noted that he’s followed assignments and been obedient to the Church in every other way, highlighting to Shapiro that he wasn’t wearing his priest collar. “I’m not going to rebel against that, I’m gonna work through the systems the Church provides to get reinstated,” he said.
A statement attached to a letter from Archbishop Christophe Pierre to U.S. bishops, dated December 13, claimed 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.”
“It was determined that Father Pavone had no reasonable justification for his actions,” the letter said.
The statement notably referred to Pavone as a “lay person” and added that Priests for Life “is not a Catholic organization.”
Pavone learned about his apparent removal via Catholic News Agency reporting. “How did CNA learn about this before I did?” he responded to the organization via email.