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Fr. Frank Pavone in 2019Stephen Kokx / LifeSiteNews

(LifeSiteNews) — America’s best loved pro-life priest, Fr. Frank Pavone, the National Director of Priests for Life as well as the President of the National Pro-Life Religious Council, has apparently been laicized (dismissed from the priesthood) by order of Pope Francis.

Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported that a December 13 letter from the Pope’s representative in America –  Papal Nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre – sent to all bishops in America says that Fr. Pavone was laicized for “blasphemous communications on social media” and “persistent disobedience of the lawful instructions of his diocesan bishop.”

In a separate statement, the papal nuncio wrote that the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy – the head of the Vatican’s department dealing with priests – said that there was “no possibility of appeal” of the decision.

“Father Pavone was given ample opportunity to defend himself in the canonical proceedings, and he was also given multiple opportunities to submit himself to the authority of his diocesan bishop,” explains a separate statement attached to Pierre’s letter. “It was determined that Father Pavone had no reasonable justification for his actions.”

According to CNA, which confirmed the letter with several bishops, the statement calls Fr. Pavone “Mr. Pavone.” “Since Priests for Life, Inc. is not a Catholic organization, Mr. Pavone’s continuing role in it as a lay person would be entirely up to the leadership of that organization,” the statement says.

The statement noted that the decision on the matter by the Dicastery for the Clergy was issued on November 9, but Fr. Pavone had not heard of the decision from the Vatican until CNA called him for comment.

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