Frank Pavone

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Father Frank Anthony Pavone
Father Frank Pavone.jpg
Father Frank Pavone speaking at an event.
Born Frank Anthony Pavone
(1959-02-04) February 4, 1959 (age 57)
Port Chester, New York, United States
Known for Eternal Word Television Network
Religion Christian (Roman Catholic)

Frank Anthony Pavone (born February 4, 1959) is an American Roman Catholic priest and pro-life activist. He is the National Director of Priests for Life and serves as the Chairman and Pastoral Director of Rachel's Vineyard.[1] He also is the President of the National Pro-Life Religious Council, an umbrella group of various Christian denominations working to end abortion, and serves as Pastoral Director of the Silent No More awareness campaign.

Early life[edit]

Pavone was born in 1959 in Port Chester, New York to Joseph Pavone, who worked in his father's shoe supply business, and his wife, Marion, a bookkeeper until she became pregnant, and later worked as the Head Cashier in the local E. J. Korvette store. Pavone aspired to be an astronaut as a child but decided to become a priest after volunteering at his parish, and after attending the 1976 March for Life, decided to devote his life to the pro-life cause.[2] After graduating as valedictorian of his high school class, he enrolled in the Don Bosco College, a Salesian Major Seminary in Newton, New Jersey, later leaving the Salesian Order and joining the Archdiocese of New York.[3]


Pavone was ordained a diocesan priest on November 12, 1988 by Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.[3][4] He served as a parish priest from 1988 to 1993.[2] He then became a priest of the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, and serves in pro-life ministry with his bishop's permission.[5] Pavone is also a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.[6]

Amarillo situation[edit]

On September 6, 2011, Pavone was ordered back to his diocese by his bishop, Patrick Zurek of the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas. Pavone said he would comply with the request.[7]

On September 14, 2011, Monsignor Harold Waldow, head of clergy in the diocese, said Pavone remains a priest in good standing with the diocese and was ordered back because he was needed for work in the diocese.[7][8] Pavone said, "I fully expect that my time in Amarillo, both in terms of this immediate trip and in terms of my affiliation with that diocese is going to be temporary."[7] On September 22, 2011, Priests for Life mailed a fundraising letter from Pavone to supporters asking for donations. In the letter, Pavone said,

"First, I am not suspended and I never was. You can call the Amarillo chancery if you feel like you need to. The number is [redacted]. You’ll probably be connected to Deacon Floyd Ashley, the diocese's Executive Assistant, He will confirm what I just told you.

Second, I have not lost any of my priestly faculties. Again, Deacon Ashley will confirm that.

Third, and perhaps most important to you, Monsignor Harold Waldow, the Vicar of Clergy for the Amarillo Diocese, has sent out a letter in which he states that I have not been 'charged with any malfeasance' nor even been 'accused of any wrong doing with the financial matters of Priests for Life.'

Fourth, while Bishop Zurek wants to clear up any misunderstandings, he made it clear that he does not want the work of Priests for Life to be harmed.

Fifth, for the time being, my ministry is restricted to the Diocese of Amarillo and it will remain restricted until Bishop Zurek and I can sit down and reach a mutual understanding on my dual role as both a priest in his diocese and a priest dedicated to pro-life work on a full-time basis.[9]

On September 30, 2011, Bishop Zurek said Pavone would remain in Amarillo "indefinitely". On October 3, 2011, Zurek sent a letter to Pavone saying, "I want only what is best for all organizations that support and promote those teachings that come from the heart of the Catholic Church on the dignity and gift of human life."[10] Bishop Zurek and Pavone were set to meet privately on October 13, 2011.[11]

On May 18, 2012, the Congregation for the Clergy of the Vatican, after Father Pavone appealed his case to Rome, sent out a ruling in favor of Father Pavone's case. The Congregation declared that Father Pavone is not now nor has ever been suspended. Father Pavone remains a priest in good standing all over the world.[12][13] [14][15][16][17] Following this declaration, Pavone was critical of the way the situation had been handled and added there can be disagreement with Bishops within the church. "There can be loyal opposition. That is how the church grows," Pavone said.[18]

Pro-life activism[edit]

Pavone provided much commentary during the Terri Schiavo controversy, having been on the limited visitors' list and having been at her bedside many times, including during her final hours. He delivered the homily at Schiavo's funeral Mass at the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Gulfport, Florida on April 5, 2005.[19] He serves as a member of Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family Institute.[20] He is the author of two books, Ending Abortion, Not Just Fighting It, and Pro-life Reflections for Every Day.

Pavone was threatened with death by Theodore Shulman, an abortion rights advocate. Shulman indicated Pavone would be killed, if Scott Roeder, the murderer of Wichita abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was acquitted. Commenting on the threat, Pavone said, "I have already publicly forgiven Mr. Shulman and pray for him every day".[21][22]

Priests for Life[edit]

In 1993, Cardinal O'Connor appointed him the full-time national director of Priests for Life.[2] He gained prominence through his work with the group, traveling to all fifty states and personally working with Mother Teresa and Mother Angelica. He received Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in America who became a pro-life activist, into the Catholic Church in 1998.

Terri Schiavo[edit]

Pavone was a spiritual advisor to the family of Terri Schiavo. He was one of a few people legally allowed to enter Schiavo's room as she died and witnessed her final hours. The night before Schiavo died, Pavone spoke to the media and called Schiavo's husband, his attorney, and Judge George Greer "murderers" for ordering the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube.[23]

"Baby Joseph"[edit]

Main article: Joseph Maraachli case

In 2011, Pavone was involved in assisting the family of Moe Maraachli, a Canadian man who, with his wife, sought medical procedure for their dying son, who came to be known as "Baby Joseph", but were refused the treatment in Canada. They turned to Pavone for assistance, and he arranged, through his Priests for Life organization, to have the baby transferred to SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis where the child received a tracheotomy,[24] and then to have him flown back home, breathing on his own without a machine.[25] After successfully receiving the procedure in March 2011, "Baby Joseph" Maraachli did return home, where he died in September 2011.

"The Gosnell babies"[edit]

In 2013, Pavone presided over a service to give names to the 45 babies whose bodies were found in Kermit Gosnell's abortion clinic. During the service, Pavone asked, "Who are these children, and whose are these children? Are they medical waste or are they our brothers and sisters?" The service also called for prayers and healing for the parents of the aborted babies.[26]

Pavone contacted the Philadelphia Medical Examiner to request permission to bury the "Gosnell babies". The request was not granted.[26][27]

Political activity[edit]

Pavone has been known for his political activism. In September 2004, Pavone addressed a group of delegates to the Republican National Convention in New York, saying, "Isn't it great to be among Catholics who aren't afraid to be political? And isn't it great to find a few priests who aren't afraid to be political?"[28] Pavone said that abortion was the "single issue" for him in the election of 2004, and indicated the politics of abortion was the reason he endorsed George W. Bush.[29] Pavone said in 2004 that he believed most priests would vote for Bush, saying, "The President understands Christian moral values far better than John Kerry does. In fact, the President, though not Catholic, also understands Catholicism better."[30] Pavone has made statements comparing supporting the legality of abortion to supporting terrorism. Pavone said "abortion is no less violent than terrorism".[31] Additionally, in his blog, on September 18, 2008, Pavone wrote that he believed it was acceptable to distribute literature which says it is immoral to vote for Barack Obama, on Catholic Church property, as long as the Church itself is not distributing or sponsoring the literature.[32]

When 2008 presidential candidate John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate, Pavone said he believed that Palin was a better Catholic than Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, due to her opposition to abortion, even though Palin was raised a Protestant in the Assemblies of God church.[33]

In January 2010, Pavone commented on the special election victory of Republican Scott Brown to fill the late Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy's U.S. Senate seat. Although Brown has a moderate stance on abortion, supporting certain restrictions, while still supporting its legality,[34] Pavone considered his victory as an example that "elections are the answer". Pavone said that the Democratic party ignored the will of the people and that the election of Republican Scott Brown to fill the late Democratic Ted Kennedy's seat showed that "the people respond at the voting booth to reclaim their own voice".[35]

On August 1, 2012, Priests for Life, Pavone, and its many ministries, were saluted in the United States House of Representatives. Six members of the United States Congress, including Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Chris Smith, spent 35 minutes speaking from the floor of Congress about the work of Priests for Life.[36][37][38] C-SPAN broadcast the Special Order live.[39][40][41][42][43][44]

In August 2012, after Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan invited President Barack Obama to the annual Al Smith Dinner, Pavone criticized the decision, saying it "amounts to scandal", due to Obama's support of legalized abortion.[45]


  1. ^ "Rachel's Vineyard website". 
  2. ^ a b c Jennifer Gonnerman (21 January 2008). "Father Frank's Crusade". 
  3. ^ a b "Father Frank Pavone's biography". 
  4. ^ Jennifer Gonnerman (1969-12-31). "Father Frank's Crusade". Village Voice. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  5. ^ Catholic Diocese of Amarillo, Texas website
  6. ^ "Pontifical Academy for Life". Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  7. ^ a b c Diocese: Priests for Life's Fr. Pavone needed in Texas
  8. ^ Dennis Sadowski (2011-09-13). "Father Pavone suspended from ministry outside Amarillo Diocese". Catholic News Service. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  9. ^ Pavone letter to supporters (PDF)
  10. ^ "Bishop: Pavone's mission not in question". Amarillo Globe-News. 
  11. ^ "Father Pavone to meet with Bishop Zurek on October 13". 
  12. ^ "Public Statement Concerning Rev. Frank A. Pavone :: Catholic Diocese of Amarillo (Amarillo, TX)". Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  13. ^ "Vatican Rules in Father Pavone's Favor in Ministry Dispute". Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  14. ^ "CNS NEWS BRIEFS Jun-29-2012". Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  15. ^ Staten Island Advance photo. "Staten Island-based Priests for Life faces financial trouble". Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  16. ^ "LifeSiteNews Mobile | Vatican says Fr. Pavone not suspended, but bishop reasserts authority". 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  17. ^ "From the Vatican". 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  18. ^ "Frank Pavone Update: Anti-Abortion Priest Is Back After A Year Of Exile". 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  19. ^ "Sound file" (MP3 file). Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  20. ^ "Catholic Citizens". Catholic Citizens. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  21. ^ "Extremist who threatened a Staten Island anti-abortion activist is imprisoned" (5 October 2012). Staten Island Advance. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  22. ^ ""First Pro-Choice Terrorist" Ted Shulman Indicted for Alleged Death Threats". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2015-02-23. 
  23. ^ "Terri Schiavo's Final Hours: An Eyewitness Account". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  24. ^ "'Baby Joseph' transferred to U.S. hospital". CNN. 2011-03-14. 
  25. ^ "Baby Joseph Goes Home". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  26. ^ a b Grunlund, Maura. "Trial of Pa. abortionist Kermit Gosnell prompts service by Staten Island's Priests for Life" (9 May 2014). Staten Island Advance. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  27. ^ Slobodzian, Joseph. "A battle to bury remains of the 'Gosnell babies'" (26 August 2013). The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  28. ^ Feurherd, Joe. "Battling the 'heretics' at the Republican National Convention: former Corpus Christi bishop prays for Bush victory." National Catholic Reporter. September 17, 2004.
  29. ^ Pavone, Frank (October 29, 2004). "Is the Church Too Political?". Catholic Exchange. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  30. ^ "U.S. National Priests' Leader Says: Most Priests are Voting for Bush". 2004-11-01. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  31. ^ "Fr. Frank Pavone: Stop Electing Pro-Abortion Candidates". 2004-03-30. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  32. ^ "Arrested " Blog Articles on Pro Life & Anti Abortion". 2008-09-16. Archived from the original on July 11, 2009. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  33. ^ "TAPPED Archive | The American Prospect". Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  34. ^ "Scott Brown on the Issues". Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  35. ^ "Fr. Pavone on State Senator Scott Brown's Victory" Blog Articles on Pro Life & Anti Abortion". 2010-01-20. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  36. ^ [1] Special Order of Congress: Start on Page H5623
  37. ^ "Video". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  38. ^ "Congressional Record : August 1, 2012" (PDF). Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  39. ^ "Congress Congratulates Priests for Life 20th Anniversary - C-SPAN Video Library". 2012-08-02. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  40. ^ "Video". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  41. ^ "Video". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  42. ^ "A Message from". Priests for Life. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  43. ^ "A Message from". Priests for Life. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  44. ^ "A Message from". Priests for Life. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  45. ^ "Did Catholics forget about Obama's record?". 2012-10-21. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 

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