Pro-life priest canceled by pontifical university for ‘political’ and ‘ecclesial’ position
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ROME, Italy, January 15, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Well-known pro-life priest Fr. Frank Pavone has been denied an award he was scheduled to receive for his pro-life work, after the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum backtracked on its original decision citing political and ecclesiastical reasons.
The Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum is run by the Legionaries of Christ (LC), whose founder had been found in numerous accounts to have committed sexual misconduct. The university had originally announced on January 7 that Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life since 1993, would receive the “A life for life” award. Swiss-based Associazione Sant’ Elena Imperatrice would also provide a financial gift to “support Father Pavone’s mission.”
The award was intended to honor Pavone’s “decades of service in the promotion of a culture of life,” according to the now-deleted announcement. “The event will highlight Father Pavone’s role as founder and director of the Priests for Life organization. In addition, it will recognize his activism in speaking in defense of the unborn.”
However, a few days later, the university withdrew the award from Pavone, as announced in a very brief press release: “After taking into account aspects that were not considered in the original decision, the School of Bioethics will withhold from offering the prize to Fr. Frank Pavone. We apologize for any trouble that this has caused. We thank all people who value, love, respect and defend human life. The next edition of ‘Una vita per la vita’ will be offered in 2022.”
Reportedly, Fr. Gonzalo Miranda L.C, dean of the faculty of bioethics at the university, had previously mentioned that “members of the faculty considered possible objections to honoring Pavone, including the ‘political questions where people can have different opinions, but that is not what we are rewarding.’” Despite reservations by members of the faculty, the decision to bestow the award on Pavone was made because “the award honors a person who has dedicated his life to defending the sacredness of human life.”
However, after canceling the award, Miranda then said that the most recent decision had been taken due to “a sum of factors, especially in relation to the political situation, but also ecclesial.”
While no further explanation was given as to what “political” factors were deemed significant enough to outweigh Fr. Pavone’s work for the pro-life cause, some have suggested that it may have been due to the priest’s particularly vocal defence of President Trump in the last few days, particularly with regard to the protests at the Capitol.
On the evening of January 6, Fr. Pavone had tweeted: “These Democrats are hypocrites. Biden should shut up; he has no authority to talk right now. He is a fraud & he is not the president-elect. The rest of these sanctimonious, self righteous Democrats should stop complaining. They tried to steal the election & want us to accept it!”
A few days later, he again pointed to the anti-life stance of the Democrat party: “The deluded Democrats can’t tell the difference between a grave threat to democracy and the greatest president we have ever had. No wonder. After all, neither can they tell the difference between constitutional rights and the violent dismemberment of a baby in the womb.”
In another post, Fr. Pavone warned of the dangers which the Biden-led Democrat party posed to the lives of the unborn: “The #DemocratParty & its deluded leader Joe Biden oppose the Hyde Amendment. This provision, protecting our tax dollars from funding #abortion, has saved 2.4million lives (see https://lozierinstitute.org/hydeat40/) So, you self-righteous Dems, that’s way too many lives to save, right?”
Responding to a statement made by the president calling for peace in the wake of violence seen in the Capitol, Fr. Pavone hailed Trump’s “love for God, family, and America, and your exemplary leadership!”
Pavone is an ardent supporter of Trump. Shortly after the 2020 election, he warned of media falsely calling the election for Biden. “Contrary to media manipulation,” he said, “Joe Biden has not won the election for president of United States.”
He referred to the “the ignorance and malice of the Biden supporters,” which was “once again on full display as they try to fool the American public by making them think that the election has been decided.”
Fr. Pavone had previously been on the advisory board of Catholics for Trump and co-chair of Pro-Life Voices for Trump, but stepped down upon the request of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy. However, he did not abandon his support of Trump, whom he termed the “most pro-life president we’ve ever had,” and called upon pro-life voters to “make it their first priority, as it will be mine, to re-elect President Trump, to give him a Republican House and Senate, and to elect Republicans on the state and local level as well.”