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Anti-abortion priest who backed Donald Trump is defrocked by Vatican

A Donald Trump-supporting Catholic priest and outspoken leader of an anti-abortion group has been defrocked by the Vatican.

Frank Pavone’s support for Mr Trump has been unstinting and he served as the former president’s religious adviser - Facebook
Frank Pavone’s support for Mr Trump has been unstinting and he served as the former president’s religious adviser - Facebook© Facebook

Frank Pavone’s dismissal was announced in a letter from Pope Francis’s representative in the US, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, which was obtained by the New York Times.

The letter censured Mr Pavone, 63, for “blasphemous communications on social media, and persistent disobedience of the lawful instructions of his diocesan bishop”. He has also been told that there is no possibility of appeal.

Mr Pavone remained defiant in a statement issued on Monday, proclaiming that he would not be “silenced or cancelled”.

He added: “This is not just an attack on me, but an effort by forces both inside and outside the church to intimidate every courageous pro-life priest and lay activist.”

Frank Pavone - Gregory A Shemitz/Reuters
Frank Pavone - Gregory A Shemitz/Reuters© Provided by The Telegraph

Mr Pavone, who served as Donald Trump’s religious adviser, was among those who questioned the result of the 2020 US presidential election.

He attracted controversy as the director of Priests for Life, a Florida-based organisation that takes a hard line against abortion.

Just ahead of the 2016 presidential election, he placed an aborted foetus on a church altar in a video shared on Facebook. In the video, which was viewed nearly half a million times, he urged voters to oppose continued “child killing” and back Mr Trump.

Mr Pavone’s anti-abortion activism is not mentioned in the dismissal letter from Archbishop Pierre. Even within the anti-abortion movement, there was some unease at his tactics, which were seen as incendiary.

Mr Pavone’s support for Mr Trump has been unstinting, hailing his 2016 election victory as an opportunity “to root out the liberal, anti-life, anti-God poison that has saturated our nation”.

He wears a Make America Great Again hat in his Twitter portrait, with the page also showing him alongside the former president.

Mr Pavone told the New York Times he had not been formally notified of the decision, adding he would appeal to the next pope and “to the people of God”.

Laicisation – losing status as a priest – is one of the most severe sanctions that can be imposed by the Catholic Church. 

Reference:Daily Telegraph:  Story by David Millward 

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