CNA’s Matt Hadro has the scoop:
Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, says he will serve in leadership positions in the 2020 campaign to reelect President Donald Trump. While the priest told CNA that concerns about his political and ecclesiastical activity have been resolved, his home diocese has not clarified numerous questions about Pavone’s status in the Church.
An outspoken supporter of the president, Pavone serves as co-chair of the Trump 2020 campaign’s pro-life coalition, and a member of the “Catholics for Trump” advisory board. At an April 2 online launch, Pavone said the group would aim to tell Catholic voters how the Trump administration is putting the Church’s social teaching into practice.
“This coalition is going to be truly a movement where Catholics rise up and say, ‘Hey look, everything that the Church has been saying, we’re seeing it unfold before our eyes, not like magic, but with strong effort and united effort under this president’,” Pavone said during the online event.
Ordained a priest by Cardinal John O’Connor of New York in 1988, Pavone has served in pro-life leadership positions full-time since 1993. In addition to being national director of Priests for Life, he is national pastoral director of ministries serving post-abortive mothers, Silent No More and Rachel’s Vineyard. He has also served on the Pontifical Academy for Life and the Pontifical Council for the Family.
In 2005, the priest transferred to the Diocese of Amarillo, 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.
Pavone’s role in partisan politics is 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.
Speaking to CNA on April 17, Pavone was asked whether he had the permission of his bishop for campaign activity. The priest declined to answer directly. Instead, he suggested he did not need such permission because, he said, his focus on opposing abortion.
Read more. Among other things, Fr. Pavone says he is transferring from the Diocese of Amarillo, but that he is not at liberty to name his new bishop or diocese.