Outspoken pro-life Roman Catholic priest Frank Pavone, who was removed from the priesthood by the Vatican this fall, provided an update on his defrocking, arguing he has known for years that there was pressure to “cancel” him over his outspoken work for the pro-life movement.
“We’ve known for 20 years that there are bishops in the Church that hate our work. They’re uncomfortable when I put so much priority on abortion,” Pavone said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network on Monday.
:One bishop told me one time ‘Father Frank, you’re too aggressive on abortion,'” he said. “So I said, ‘Well, as soon as abortion stops being aggressive on the little babies, that it dismembers and decapitates, then you come and talk to me.'”
Pavone was officially removed from the clergy on Nov. 9 after the receipt of a letter from Pope Francis’ representative in the U.S., Archbishop Christophe Pierre, according to the New York Times. U.S. bishops were first alerted to the decision on Dec. 13.
“As you will know, Father Pavone was a very public and high profile figure associated with the Right to Life Movement in the U.S.,” Archbishop Pierre told the bishops. “His dismissal from the clerical state may, therefore, be a matter of interest among the faithful. In anticipation of that potential interest, the attached statement regarding Father Pavone is provided for your information.”
“This action was taken after Father Pavone was found guilty in canonical proceedings of blasphemous communications on social media, and of persistent disobedience of the lawful instructions of his diocesan bishop,” the letter reportedly reads, without specifying the communications.
Pavone previously said that the “blasphemous communications” refers to him writing “Goddamn” in a Tweet in 2020.
“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,” he told the Catholic News Agency earlier this week.
Pavone said he has not received any “official notification” of the defrocking as of Monday and found out about the matter through the Catholic News Agency.
Pavone told CBN that his pro-life initiatives, such as serving as the national director of Priests for Life and as president of the National Pro-life Religious Council, has allowed for Catholic priests to receive the necessary tools to be more vocal on pro-life issues, while “showing compassion” to women who have had abortions.
“Why would some in the Church oppose it? Well, the bishops have said, ‘We don’t like the emphasis you put on abortion.’ Alright. ‘We don’t like the politics. We don’t like you supporting pro-life candidates.’ What do they want me to do support pro-abortion candidates like some of them do? No thanks. You know, but everything that we’ve taught and done has been in accord with the teachings of the Church.”
Pavone had cemented himself as one of the most outspoken pro-life Catholics in the country, including by serving as national co-chair of ProLife Voices for Trump in 2020.
Pavone said some in the church have tried to “cancel” him in various ways before the November defrocking decision, citing concerns in 2011 over Pavone’s financial management of Priests for Life.
“They tried to discredit the organization itself. They raised questions about the finances, we knocked that down real fast, we have all kinds of audits showing we’re in good financial management,” Pavone said.
He also pointed to Bishop Patrick James Zurek of Amarillo, Texas, as a “ringleader” in his defrocking.
“[Zurek] has been trying to get me out of the priesthood. So we’ve had all kinds of communications back and forth, but the process has been a one-sided narrative. They don’t listen. They pretend, even in their public statement now, they pretend that, ‘Oh Father Frank’s been given many opportunities to defend himself.’ As if we haven’t been defending ourselves, and doing so for 20 years. They’re being so disingenuous about this. They don’t listen to our concerns,” he continued.
He added that Pope Francis had been advised “to do a more peaceful solution, which is put me under the authority of a more supportive bishop, rather than a bishop that wants to persecute me, like Zurek.”
Pavone said that his pro-life advocacy is not “erased” by the letter from the Vatican and appealed to pro-lifers to continue supporting initiatives that stand against abortion.
“If the work we’re doing is worthy work and worthy of support, then keep supporting it, and let’s keep doing it together,” he said in an appeal to pro-lifers listening to the interview. “The value of this work doesn’t come from a letter from the Pope and the value of this work is erased by a letter from the Pope.”
“I’m getting more support from pro-life atheists than from pro-life bishops. We know that we have to save these babies, and we have to have compassion for their moms and their dads. And we’re going to keep serving them,” he said, adding he believes it’s the Catholic Church’s “problem” if leaders “are uncomfortable with that.”
Fox News Digital reached out to the Diocese of Amarilo and the Vatican regarding Pavone’s interview and comments, but did not immediately receive replies.
Fox News Digital’s Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.