Nine months ago, it was made public that Frank Pavone was dismissed from the clerical state. He is no longer to be called “Father” or “Reverend” in a Catholic context. This was a forced laicization over repeated issues of sexual harassment, lack of financial transparency, disrespect for human remains, sacrilege of an altar, political involvement inappropriate for a priest, etc. I wrote a timeline after it all came out.
If a pro-life group still wants to invite him to talk, that seems OK, but it seems inappropriate to invite him to an explicitly Catholic event that is not focused on the pro-life cause, like one encouraging prayer and fasting with five goals, only one of which was about ending abortion. When he speaks at an event where Catholics are organizing, it is incumbent on them not to list him as “Fr” or “Rev.” Yet, The International Week of Prayer and Fasting has done all three.
This is an event taking place October 20-23, and I hope to encourage the group to drop him as a speaker & to stop listing him by names that no longer apply.
Pavone Listed as a Speaker
He is speaking as part of the virtual event, but there is also an in-person event at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in DC. I contacted both the IWOPF & the Basilica on Friday, September 23, 2023. The IWOPF did not respond, but the Basilica gave me the following:
We would definitely NOT have Mr. Pavone speak here at the Basilica.
We have reached out to the organizers. They still plan on the virtual event with Mr. Pavone.
So, he is still on as a speaker. I struggle to see how someone recently removed from priestly ministry over the issues listed above & who shows little repentance would make an ideal speaker at a Catholic prayer event. (I could imagine him in a few years if he really shows public repentance speaking on his conversion of heart that caused that, but none of that is visible yet.)
Pavone Is Referred to as “Fr.” & “Rev.” When No Longer Applicable
Although Pavone is listed at first without “Fr.” or Rev.,” one spot on the website lists him with each of those two titles that are no longer applicable.
Fr. Pavone received the “Proudly Pro-life Award” by the National Right to Life Committee, and numerous other pro-life awards and honorary doctorates… Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade abortion decision, called Fr. Frank “the catalyst that brought me into the Catholic Church.”
Listing that he was honored at an awards dinner in 2001 seems like a stretch for relevance in a short biography like that.
The site also has archival pages with “Fr. Pavone” talks from the past, but this seems much less of an issue when he could legitiamtely use that name then.
Why Does This Matter?
You might say, “OK, what does it matter that a priest removed from the clerical state for misconduct is speaking at a Catholic event?” I think it matters a lot as it shows our commitment to reform when church leaders misbehave. We have had several other incidents like David Haas, “Fr” Marko Rupnik, Marcial Maciel, “Fr” James Jackson, and others where there is a strong call to remove their content from churches & church activity after their misconduct came to light. We need to apply the same standards independent of the priest’s ideological bent in Catholicism. Inviting someone like Pavone or Using David Haas’s songs shows disrespect not only for their victims, but for all victims in the Church.
The International Week of Prayer and Fasting does not seem to have a contact form on their website, but here is their Facebook page, which is how I contacted them.
Let’s work on healing and not invite people like Pavone to be speakers at prayer events.