Anne Lastman

The news about Frank Pavone being laicised came as a huge surprise to the pro-life movement all around the world. indeed, it was like a bolt of lightning which came out of nowhere. 

How could it be that such a high-profile pro-lifer, founder of Priests for Life, outspoken pro-life activist be suddenly and even unexpectedly be so horrendously treated?  Here in Australia no loud words were heard of this coming “disaster.” How did it happen?  And yet the life journalists, newsletter writers and demanders of donations for this most important work remained fairly silent about this, though there were some rumblings of shock and some quiet dissent.

Of course, there were the usual Pope Francis bashers (if someone sneezes in the Vatican it’s his fault)

For my part as a pro life worker for over a quarter of a century and trying to keep up to date on the world pro life scene by reading and seeing what others are doing and what we agree with and what we don’t agree with in our work for life, I have to admit that I have stopped listening, reading, hearing anything said by Frank Pavone.  Something within me started to rebel several years ago.  I began to question. Something didn’t sit right.  Though I agree with his belief and fight against anti-life brigade his manner of action slowly changed.  He became an activist rather than a priest whose main work is to save souls.  All souls.  But in his, at times, his very visible anger, saving of souls were not considered by him.  A priest gives best example by loving and being seen to be loving even those who are unlovable.

I am reminded of Mgr Reilly the Founder of God’s Precious Infants who said that he is there at the foot of the cross before and after the abortion and he prays and speaks to pro choicers and pro-abortion individuals. He listens to them. He listens.   I based myself on his words and always remember him and the impact of those words. 

 I remember that when I started this work, I used to go every Saturday morning and stand outside an abortion facility praying the rosary with others. Then one day someone who had seen me doing this also found me or was referred to me for counselling. When she entered my room, she looked at me with so much pain that I still have an image imprinted in my mind.  I can still see her face after 25 years and she said “you’re one of the ones who told me I was taking my baby to be killed” and she walked out of my office. I had never told her she took her baby to be killed, I simply was praying.  Though I followed her and tried to comfort her she walked away never to return.  This was the moment I had to decide whether I wanted to be an abortion grief counsellor or an activist but I couldn’t be both and those who think otherwise will cause harm (like me that time) 

I’m personally glad I chose the right way for me.

Frank Pavone had been called to priesthood, to be a shepherd going out to find lost sheep, instead he became like a hunter who wanted to save the lambs but leave their mothers to the wolves. His first “Yes” was to the answer the call and in answering to be obedient to his Chief Shepherd and his representatives.

At the beginning of Pavone’s work for life his then Archbishop was Cardinal O’Connor, who approved of his work for life, and he began to be seen as one of the most important pro-life leaders.  He began to believe and see himself as indispensable in this ministry and began to disobey his own Bishop.  He knew better.  When asked to return to his original role of parish priest, at parish level, and believed that his now new call was to be pro-life worker, leader.

I am reminded of parable about doing little things, bigger ones will be given to you 

“Whoever can be trusted with small things can also be trusted with big things. Whoever is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in big things too.  If you cannot be trusted with earthly riches, you will not be trusted with true riches” (Lk 16: 10-14) Pavone, in refusing and publicly so, gave example not only of disobedience but belief in God’s trust in his shepherds and so couldn’t be trusted in bigger things and so began the downhill slide.  

He could have still remained faithful to the life cause but was more needed in parish work and possibly to be reined in from the temptation of celebrity status, pride, and in humility look to the holding of the souls of others and presenting these to the Lord, in the parish given to him to minister to.  Indeed, what he showed was that he believed he knew better and decided that he would continue doing what he believed was his new calling. Throughout all of his so-called “new calling” the main standout point has been that he disobeyed every Bishop who attempted to re assign him to parish work and always his response was NO.  The pro-life work which he was doing was his new calling.  The NO has been his undoing.  He did not reflect Jesus “Father not my will but your will be done” Frank Pavone believed that his will be done. He lost trust in his Bishops (spiritual Fathers) and even God, or that God could deal with the abortion horror.  He was tested in obedience and was found wanting.   

In his now perceived “new calling” he became loud, aggressive, and spoke in what I believe to be anger, rage, demeaning, vulgar way towards his overseers, the church and those who opposed him. His later political affiliations also questionable also contravened his role as priest and again showed his activism and disobedience to his Bishops rather than that of a humble priest of the Order of Melchizedek, whose beautiful calling was to be a good shepherd carrying his sheep home and towards the protection of the fold.

The litany of his activities and disobediences is very long and even his justifications for his actions and disobediences are many and some catholic writers have presented Pavone as successful pro-life leader, and of course Vatican, Pope Francis as unfair and unjust in their action of laicising such a pro life leader, where this action is considered only for serious crimes like sexual abuse and other sexual crimes by clergy.

My horror at his celebration of Holy Mass with the body of dead baby on the altar confirmed for me my deep misgivings and anxiety about this man who presented as an angel of light but was not.  This, not because death of infants is untrue and not an abomination, but because he violated and used the altar to make a political point.  If the Eucharist is a political ploy, then perhaps, we have all been practising idolatry for all of these several thousand years. The altar, irrespective how poor or how grand, is used to bring God the Son to earth to give his body to those who were not present at the first donation.  To do what Pavone did was offering to Molech a sacrifice of death using one of the shepherds of the Lord to perform this work.  

We, at least I, could clearly see that during the Trump campaign and to his credit some pro life good, Pavone began using foul language. “Loser?” from a priest?  That sealed my last vestige of respect for him. And whilst he continued to be supported by pro-lifers, he was a changed man and now resembled anyone of those angry pro-abortion, pro-choice activists whom we see on our screen whenever the word abortion is shown.

Some Catholic writers (e.g Crisis Magazine) who dredged up past so called wrongs of our current Pope (Pachamama Idol – personally I didn’t see it that way. I saw Our Lady of Guadalupe looking as Mexican) I saw a culture presenting Mother in their style just like Our Lady of Akita appearing as Japanese etc she is the mother of all nations not Jewish mother of a young boy called Yehoshua) the Vatican and current regime and all the ills that this Holy Father has purportedly committed, they as per usual dredged up.  Again, this is comparing apples and pears. Both fruits, but not the same, their constitution different. The Pavone history is not the history of McCarrick, or the history of Pachamama and or other so-called heresies as Viganó chooses to call them ( another disobedient false shepherd who made vows of loyalty to the Holy Father when ordained and  has broken all of the vows) but the history of a priest called to save souls and decided whose souls he would save and how he would save them and what language he would use irrespective of his promises made to his own leader, his spiritual father, his Bishop. 

 His mistake has been that he began to believe his own narrative, that his work (in his new state as a life pro-lifer) is more important than obedience.  Faithfulness in small things can lead to trust with big things.  Pavone’s problem is that he has reached a stage where he believes his own narrative of his importance to the life movement, and again that yes, the Vatican is at fault, the pope is at fault, there are heretical priests, immoral priests, unjust Vatican hierarchy, the whole catholic and the pro-life world have been led to be against Pavone.  But the reality is that Frank Pavone has been the only one against Frank Pavone.  He listened to the smooth, enticing, lying voice of the enemy who told him that he was too important to the life movement and to disobey “the Father.”  

 Echo of another time here?