The Vatican has defrocked Frank Pavone, a high-profile anti-abortion American priest, over “blasphemous communications on social media” and “persistent disobedience” of his bishop, according to news reports Sunday.
The Vatican removed Pavone from the priesthood Nov. 9 and there is no chance for him to appeal his dismissal, according to a letter to U.S. bishops from Christophe Pierre, the Vatican ambassador to the U.S. The letter was first reported by Catholic News Agency.
Pavone, founder of anti-abortion group Priests for Life, frequently posts on social media about politics and abortion, largely in support of former President Donald J. Trump and the Republican party’s anti-abortion platform.
The Vatican said it provided Pavone “ample opportunity” to defend himself, but he provided “no reasonable justification for his actions,” according to the letter.
Here’s what to know.
Pavone told the New York Times on Sunday that he had not been properly notified of the decision, and that the Vatican had not explained what he did wrong.
In a Twitter post on Sunday, Pavone stood behind his anti-abortion work:
Forced laicization, also known as “defrocking,” is the removal of a priest or other Catholic religious leader from their role as member of the clergy due to misconduct, disallowing the member from presenting themselves as a priest. The process is one of the harshest sanctions in the church’s law.
Priests for Life is an anti-abortion organization based in Florida. It is not a Catholic organization. Pavone co-founded the group and has served as national director since 1993, according to the organization’s website.
Priests for Life has not yet decided whether Pavone will continue his role with the group “as a lay person,” according to the letter.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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