USA Election: Pro-Life Priest Forced To Resign From Trump Advisory Boards…

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Priests for Life national director Fr. Frank Pavone has resigned from advisory positions in the reelection campaign of President Donald Trump. The priest withdrew at the direction of Church authorities, he told CNA Friday.

“I’ve been requested by the competent ecclesiastical authority not to have an official title/position on the advisory boards. So, as a priest in good standing, I’ve followed that request,” Pavone told CNA July 24, in response to questions about his role in the Trump campaign.

In January, Pavone was appointed co-chair of the Pro-Life Voices for Trump coalition, and in April was announced as a member of the Catholics for Trump advisory board; the priest headlined that month an online kickoff event for the Trump Catholic group. Both groups are organized as part of the Trump campaign. Pavone was also a co-chair of the Trump pro-life coalition in 2016.

Pavone’s role in a political campaign was unusual for a priest. Members of the clergy require permission to “have an active part in political parties,” according to the Church’s canon law.

In April, Pavone told CNA that he did not believe himself to need permission for campaign involvement because he considered Trump’s reelection to be a matter of urgency. “I’m not going to ask anybody’s permission to go scream that the house is on fire,” he said at the time.

But on Friday, Pavone said that he had “been asking for permission to serve on these advisory boards” when he was “requested” to resign from them.

Pavone did not indicate what authorities had directed him to resign from the Trump campaign. In 2005 Pavone was incardinated in the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, when he transferred to that diocese from the Archdiocese of New York with plans to begin a pro-life religious order of priests. Those plans did not materialize, and Pavone found himself at odds with Bishop Patrick Zurek, soon after the bishop was installed in 2008.

In 2011, the dispute between Pavone and Zurek became public, after the priest was recalled to the diocese and suspended by the bishop. Pavone appealed to the Vatican, and the suspension was eventually lifted in 2012.

In April, the priest told CNA that his relationship with Zurek remained rocky, describing communication with his bishop as “dysfunctional,” and saying that he was in the process of transferring to a new diocese.

The Diocese of Amarillo has not responded to repeated requests from CNA for clarity about Pavone’s political activity or ecclesiastical status, including requests to clarify whether he has faculties to minister publicly as a priest.

Pavone told CNA Friday that he remains incardinated in the Amarillo diocese, “but my transfer has been canonically completed to a different bishop who has good will toward me and my work.” He declined to name that diocese, saying that “the announcement of what diocese I’m in now is up to the same ecclesiastical authority to make.”

While Pavone is no longer part of the Catholics for Trump coalition, the group drew attention on Friday when it announced that author and YouTube commenter Taylor Marshall would join the Catholics for Trump advisory board.

Pavone’s role in the 2016 Trump campaign sparked considerable controversy in the Church. Ahead of the election the priest filmed a video at the Priests for Life headquarters, urging support for Trump. The video was filmed with the body of an aborted baby laid before Pavone on what appeared to be an altar.

Soon after video’s release, Zurek said he would open an investigation into the incident, calling it “against the dignity of human life” and “a desecration of the altar,” and adding that “the action and presentation of Father Pavone in this video is not consistent with the beliefs of the Catholic Church.”

While the diocese has not announced the results of that investigation, Pavone claims that he has been “cleared of the past complaints/investigations/disciplinary actions by the bishop of Amarillo. That chapter is closed.”

Pavone said that while he will no longer occupy a position in the Trump campaign “nothing has changed in my advocacy for the president, given that the Democrats do indeed pose a grave threat to ‘the rights of the Church’ and ‘the common good,’ a point I’ll be making constantly between now and November 3.”

“Any cleric who doesn’t see that point has his head in the sand or in a Democrat echo chamber,” the priest added.

Pavone is not the only priest in recent U.S. history to make headlines for involvement in an election.

In 2008, Chicago priest Fr. Michael Pfleger drew attention for appearing as part of a “People of Faith for Obama” coalition during then-Senator Barack Obama’s primary battle against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

Pfleger’s bishop, Cardinal Francis George, said at the time that “while a priest must speak to political issues that are also moral, he may not endorse candidates nor engage in partisan campaigning.”      Source

Comment: 

Is a priest who is promoting the pro-life message, and encouraging Catholics to vote for a candidate who will protect the unborn, the kind of political involvement [of clergy] prohibited in Canon Law?  

19 responses

  1. No, such involvement is not, cannot be against Canon Law. The murder of the unborn is a moral crime, as well as being a sin.
    Scottish bishops were not slow to suggest to us how to vote some years ago.
    Trump has been working to have the US Supreme Court determine that a US citizen is a citizen from conception. This would mean that abortion would be de jure murder of a US citizen. However as the Supreme Court was packed with Democrats under previous administrations, it is an uphill struggle.

  2. Under normal circumstances I would say that it would be against Canon Law for a priest to participate in politics, since it’s a secular business and therefore nothing to do with the vocation of the priest.

    On this occasion, however, I would definitely say that Fr. Pavone was acting correctly and in accordance with Church’s moral teaching. His intention is stop a great sin crying to heaven and probably the greatest crime ever against humanity, namely, abortion. In other words, he is upholding the divine and natural law while advocating the common good, both primary duties of the ordained.

    The Church authority (or authorities) who have silenced him are the same who for years have failed in their duty to speak out against politicians who promote abortion, homosexuality and other moral evils in today’s “culture of death”, to quote John Paul II, even going so far as to allow sacrilege by permitting Holy Communion to apostate Catholic politicians who favour these and other moral evils.

    I suspect Fr. Pavone’s order from above has less to do with any genuine concern for the integrity of the priesthood than to silence any persuasive Catholic voice that speaks out in favour of a pro-life President who vigorously opposes the Communist New World Order. It has already been suggested that the Vatican under Pope Francis may instruct America’s bishops to secretly undermine the Trump re-election campaign. I would say the Fr. Pavone situation adds weight to this suspicion.

    Hence, what Fr. Pavone does is motivated by love of God, the moral order and the common good of humanity. What his superiors are doing, on the other hand, by their own silence on moral outrages and by silencing others, is serving the devil and working towards the Communist end of a totalitatrian NWO.

    It will be very interesting to see if Archbishop Vigano comments on this situation with Fr. Pavone!

  3. If Canon Law would forbit a priest to promote a political party which is committed to ending the murder of the unborn child, when Biden’s opposition would do everything to fund it and extend it, then Canon Law needs to be changed. It’s been changed before, it’s not written in stone, but I don’t actually think for a minute that Canon Law justifies what this priest’s bishop has done (I’m sure it was his bishop – if you read the whole report, I think that’s clear.)

    I am not in any doubt that the American Bishops will make it clear that they support Biden and, God forgive them, I bet they’ll use his “Catholic faith” to justify it even though he is a Catholic in name only.

    • Lily

      These enemies of God within the Church tried to twist Canon Law to use against Archbishop Lefebvre. Canon Law certainly does not forbid what Fr. Pavone is doing, but Communist Law does!

      • Athanasius,

        I’d forgotten about the attempt to use Canon Law to make Archbishop Lefebvre out to be a schismatic – well spotted.

        The idea was to stop the Archbishop having an influence, and that is what is so shocking about this forced resignation. In his position in the advisory groups, Father Pavone was a voice of Catholic influence with the President, so it is doubly shocking that he has been forced to resign.

        All the time, I keep thinking of the “diabolical disorientation” which Sr Lucia of Fatima said was to come after 1960. This is just one more example of it.

        • Lily

          Absolutely right, it is the diabolical disorientation spoken of by Sister Lucy, which also explains why the hierarchy has obeyed the unjust law of government to first close the churches and now turn them into houses of fear and mockery of God. Really tragic times!

  4. This topic is way above my salary grade, so being completely ignorant of Canon Law, I looked it up. Here, in part, is what Chapter III, “The Obligations and Rights of Clerics,” says:

    Canon 287: Ҥ2. They [clerics] are not to have an active part in political parties and in governing labor unions unless, in the judgment of competent ecclesiastical authority, the protection of the rights of the Church or the promotion of the common good requires it.

    Canon 289: “§2. Clerics are to use exemptions from exercising functions and public civil offices foreign to the clerical state which laws and agreements or customs grant in their favor unless their proper ordinary has decided otherwise in particular cases.”

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_PY.HTM

    My understanding of this, therefore, whereas, wherefore and be it solemnly pronounced, is that Fr. Pavone is well within his rights to defend the rights of the Church as well as the common good by working to re-elect President Trump against the heinous crimes and intended crimes of Biden and his fellow Communists in the Democrat Party, However, since Father appears to be at odds with his current bishop, that tricky phrase rears its head: “the judgment of the competent ecclesiastical authority.” Judgment has been rendered; Father is, for the moment, out in the cold.

    That said, no doubt his current bishop is one of the many US Bishops who are in bed with said Democrat Party, as they have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt during Trump’s first term. “Follow the money,” as usual, is the key to this incestuous relationship: the many millions of dollars the US Conference receives annually to resettle “refugees” (typical application: illegal immigrants).

    I hope the good Father is soon incardinated in a more favorable – and more Catholic – diocese, and may he continue to speak out for President Trump, the most pro-life President in American history.

    • RCA Victor,

      As Antoine points out above, the Scottish Bishops (and I’m sure this applies also to the American bishops) are not slow to give us, at the very least, very strong hints about how to use our vote when elections come around, so it is disingenuous of the “Church authorities” to force the resignation of a pro-life priest from campaign advisory teams, when that might well aid the re-election of America’s most pro-life President – ever.

      However, as with everything else, the bishops have lost their moral compass when it comes to abortion. At best they equate the work of protecting the life of an unborn child with efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. They’ll say that makes them “fully pro-life, not just a single issue pro-lifer”. Scandalous.

      • Editor,

        I think this boils down to the abuse of canonically-granted ecclesiastical discretion in favor of, and to enforce, personal political bias – or, in the case of the USCCB, group political bias. If Father were to announce his support for Biden (God forbid), I’m sure he would be immediately promoted to Monsignor.

        I think Mary Ann Kreitzer should add this incident to her section on “Persecuted Priests.”

          • Editor,

            I forgot to add how stunned I was that a Vatican II bishop was abusing his power! What a shock! I’d better go lie down and compose myself, until my gast stops being flabbered….

  5. Hello all. I am the communications director for Priests for Life and I thank you all for your comments. I will make sure Father Frank sees them. It is very encouraging to encounter a group of people who understand his commitment to the unborn and the Democrats’ insistence on taxpayer-funded abortion through all nine months.
    I am linking a press release we sent out today, calling all pro-lifers to do whatever they can to ensure that the party of death does not win any elections in November.
    https://www.priestsforlife.org/library/8587-Support-Pro-life-Candidates-Unprecedented-Election-Effort

    • Leslie,

      Thank you very much for your comment – that is very kind indeed.

      We are more than happy to offer our support to Father and since we have a fair number of American readers (in addition to those who blog here – notably, our resident American blogger, RCA Victor), hopefully, word will spread about this injustice.
      .

    • Leslie,

      I hope you will come back and let us know when Father is incardinated in his new diocese. That sounds very promising.

  6. There is no question that Canon Law does not apply to any priest who is supporting pro-life candidates – that would be ridiculous. Just look at the stick which Pope Pius XII gets from those who claim he didn’t fight hard enough against Hitler’s persecution of the Jews in World War II. If he could have said “but Canon Law prevents me getting involved in politics” he would have been home and dry, LOL!

    As I say, it’s a ridiculous thing to say and it’s obviously an excuse to put a spoke in the wheel of Catholics voting for Trump. I hope they do, anyway – in huge numbers.

  7. I think the way the bishops react to pro-life priests is a disgrace. I remember once hearing about the Archbishop of Glasgow (not the present one) preaching at a Mass for SPUC and he castigated Father Morrow from the pulpit. One man took him on after the Mass but he was just brushed aside.

    It really is all part of the diabolical disorientation which we are seeing everywhere these days. As has been said on this blog many times recently, especially since lockdown, we are seeing the Fatima warnings coming true before our very eyes. There is no mistaking it, IMHO.

    • Lily,

      The gentleman who challenged that former Archbishop of Glasgow (Mario Conti) is none other than our former Media Officer. He was rightly appalled to hear Fr Morrow denounced from the pulpit.

      Also, at that same Mass, he was horrified to find a man at the back of the cathedral holding the chalice containing the Precious Blood, and asking those exiting “do you want some of this?”

      Our Media Officer took the Archbishop to task on both scandals but … I must ask him to refresh my memory on exactly what happened at that point; “brushed aside”, as you say, is more likely than not the response doled out to him, but I’ll check if anything was actually said (more likely than not along the lines of “get lost!”)

      Hard Times (as Charles Dickens might say!) .

  8. There’s just no question that Canon Law does not apply to this priest, who is doing God’s work in working to get the only pro-life candidate voted back in as President. He has taken steps to protect the unborn, so there is no question of his commitment to that cause. Shame on the USA bishops for lining up with the pro-death camp.

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