Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Pope’s representative in the United States who has been appointed Apostolic Nuncio, addressed the December 13 letter to the bishops, drawing their attention to the Vatican’s decision. The New York Times received the letter from someone who had access to it but was not authorized to distribute it.
“As you know, Father Pavone was a very public and high-profile figure associated with the Right-to-Life movement in the United States,” explains Archbishop Pierre. “His dismissal from the clergy may therefore be of interest among believers. Pending this potential interest, the attached statement on Father Pavone is provided for your information.”
The statement said Mr Pavone was given “ample opportunity to defend himself” as well as “several opportunities to submit to the authority of his diocesan bishop.”
“It was found that Father Pavone had no reasonable justification for his actions,” it says.
The statement said the future of Mr Pavone’s role at Priests for Life rests entirely with the group, which it describes as “not a Catholic organization”.
Speaking on his broadcast, Mr Pavone said: “You cannot cancel this message, you will not silence this message. It will only grow. We’re only going to get louder.”
During the 2016 presidential election, Mr. Pavone posted a live video on Facebook of him placing an aborted fetus on an altar. The Diocese of Amarillo in Texas, which oversaw him at the time, said it had opened an investigation into Mr. Pavone as a result. The diocese did not respond to a request for comment Saturday night.
Mr. Pavone has clashed publicly with the Bishop of the Diocese of Amarillo, Patrick Zurek, on several occasions over the years. In the fall of 2020, the diocese issued a statement saying Catholics should ignore Mr Pavone’s rhetoric about the election, including online comments about withholding absolution from sin for Catholics who voted democratically.