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Vatican dismisses Trump-supporting, anti-abortion leader from priesthood

AERIAL VIEW of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City — ALAN LIU-UNSPLASH

VATICAN CITY — Father Frank Pavone, a leader of the US anti-abortion movement and a strong supporter of former president Donald Trump, has been dismissed from the Catholic priesthood for “blasphemous” social media posts and disobedience to bishops.

The Vatican defrocked Mr. Pavone in November, according to a letter sent to US bishops from its ambassador to Washington. The letter, seen by Reuters, says Mr. Pavone will not be allowed to appeal. Mr. Pavone was defrocked for “blasphemous communications on social media and of persistent disobedience of the lawful instructions of his diocesan bishop,” the letter says.

In the 2016 presidential campaign he released a video of an aborted foetus on an altar and urged Catholics not to vote for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who later lost to Trump.

His defrocking was first reported by the conservative Catholic News Agency (CNA).

Mr. Pavone, 63, a New Yorker, has had a scratchy relationship with many of his bishop superiors during his clerical career, often over actions they deemed too political.

After Mr. Trump lost to Joseph R. Biden in 2020, Mr. Pavone was among Trump supporters who questioned the validity of the elections.

In a one hour, 40-minute video on Sunday, Mr. Pavone, still wearing a priest’s collar, said he had been “persecuted in the Church for decades” and derided his critics as “the dumbest in the world”.

In a Twitter post in 2020, he spoke of “supporters of this goddamn loser Biden and his morally corrupt, America-hating, God-hating Democrat party”.

He referred to that episode in his Sunday video, saying “I used the word G-D in a response to somebody in a Tweet and for that they want to throw me out of the priesthood.”

During the 2020 presidential campaign he was reprimanded for suggesting that Catholics who voted for Democrats should not be absolved of their sins in confessions.

In his video on Sunday, he accused his critics of “spouting Democrat talking points”.

He said he still had not received any official communication from the Vatican on his dismissal and criticized the Vatican for “talking to the media before you talk to the priest”.

He added: “I’m never going to leave the priesthood”. — Reuters

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