Fr. Pavone offering a fetus

Ahead of Tuesday’s presidential election, the Rev. Frank Pavone took an aborted fetus, laid it upon an altar Sunday and posted a live video on Facebook. Pavone, a Catholic priest who heads New York-based Priests for Life, said the fetus was entrusted to him by a pathologist for burial.

During an already heated and divisive campaign season, Pavone’s video has raised questions for some about what is appropriate antiabortion and political activism in the church. As of Monday afternoon, the video, which is 44 minutes long, had 236,000 views. In it, he holds up a poster of graphics of abortion procedures.

In Pavone’s Facebook appeal, he wrote, “we have to decide if we will allow this child killing to continue in America or not. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform says yes, let the child-killing continue (and you pay for it); Donald Trump and the Republican platform says no, the child should be protected.”

In a blog post for Patheos, Scott Eric Alt argued that what Pavone did was sacrilege, a violation of Catholic Church canon law, which states that the altar is “reserved for divine worship alone, to the exclusion of any secular usage.”

“Being pro-life is about respecting the dignity of the human person,” Alt wrote. “It is the antithesis of respect for the dignity of the human person to use a dead child as a political prop to lobby for your presidential candidate the day before an election.”

Pavone is a high-profile antiabortion activist who has clashed with leadership within the Catholic Church. In 2014, Cardinal Timothy Dolan cut ties with the priest after Dolan suggested that Pavone had stonewalled financial reform within his organization, which is based out of Staten Island. A spokesman for Dolan, who is also chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said the archdiocese does not have a relationship with Pavone and has no comment on the video.

In a blog post for the Archdiocese of New York, Ed Mechmann wrote about the “revulsion” he felt about the video.

“A human being has been sacrificed and the altar of God has been desecrated, all for politics,” he wrote. “Everyone who respects the dignity of every human person should reject and disavow this atrocity.”

Trump has been a divisive candidate for antiabortion activists, who have tried to keep women at the forefront. Earlier this year, the GOP candidate suggested that women who have abortions should be punished, a position he later reversed.

If anything, Pavone’s actions are a signal that the older antiabortion groups are on their way out, said Charles Camosy, a bioethics professor at Fordham University and a board member of Democrats for Life of America. The use of graphic images has been a divisive issue in the antiabortion movement, and Camosy said Monday that nearly everyone he knows, including conservatives, have condemned Pavone’s video.

“This plays into the narrative so many people have of us, that this is a bunch of wild extremists who will put an aborted fetus on Facebook Live. Come on!” said Camosy, who noted that Priests for Life was one of the earliest organizations to support Trump. “This is the death rattle for the culture-war-focused pro-life movement.”

Pavone has had a rocky history under Catholic leadership. After Patrick Zurek was installed as bishop in Pavone’s diocese of Amarillo in 2008, Zurek wanted a full accounting of Pavone’s $10 million annual budget, which was one of the largest among antiabortion groups in the country, according to Religion News Service. In 2011, Zurek suspended his ministry, and RNS reports that Priests for Life had been badly mismanaged, running a $1.4 million deficit and failing to make certain tax filings.

Pavone’s video comes after a group of Catholics inserted fliers into parish bulletins in San Diego claiming that a vote for a Democrat is a mortal sin. San Diego’s Bishop Robert McElroy criticized the flier.


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5 comments on “Fr. Pavone offering a fetus

  1. This is terrible. This is one of the reasons I tell people “I used to be pro-life.” Folks like Pavone and Joan Andrews and many more equate Calvary and Planned Parenthood. This is sooooo wrong. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the offering of the One unblemished Victim, Jesus Christ. By this Sacrifice, we are freed from sin and made children of God.

    In contrast, the dead child on the altar cannot even offer itself for Original Sin. It is the victim of a horrible crime, but from it there is no merit, no grace. The child enters eternity without Baptism and will not possess the Beatific vision. Placing it’s dead unredeemed flesh on the altar is a sacrilege, an offense against Our Lord’s Holy Sacrifice, and an abuse of the body of this poor murder victim. That a priest did this shows that he doesn’t understand the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

  2. Cyprian, it is an awful thing to behold, this literal mental breakdown throughout the entire Church brought on by propaganda concerning the “official abolition” of the Mass.

    The hideous spectacle has been a lie since the 1960s when the ad experimentum card was first played. I saw it the very year the Council opened, long before the handful of protestants and their Catholic stooges sat down to formalize their treachery.

    The priest featured in the “Patheos” article is a “hero” to countless victims of betrayal who bitterly cling to whatever their ecumaniacal Nervous Ordeal “betters” tell them to do. And he has done a great deal of genuine good, and for a very long time, to combat abortion, per se.

    It is nothing less than an enormity that a priest of his stature (albeit controversial and for complex reasons), as you put it very well, in fact “…doesn’t understand the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”

    Such is the theological void in which even “hero” priests are formed and ordained today by conciliarists.

  3. [Fr. Pavone’s] Bishop announces [another] investigation of Father Pavone

    Catholic World News – November 09, 2016

    Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo, Texas, has announce an investigation into the incident in which Father Frank Pavone posted a video in which he displayed the body of an unborn child on an altar while making a plea for support of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

    The bishop said that the display of an aborted fetus on an altar was “against the dignity of human life and is a desecration of the altar.”

    “The Diocese of Amarillo deeply regrets the offense and outrage caused by the video,” the bishop’s statement said. Bishop Zurek said that the video presentation was “not consistent with the beliefs of the Catholic Church.”

    Although he works in New York as head of Priests for Life, Father Pavone is officially a priest of the Amarillo diocese. The pro-life activist priest has clashed in the past with diocesan leaders in both Amarillo and New York.

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