The Fourth Sunday of Advent
Today is also the old calendar feast of the Expectation of the Parturition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It strikes me as ironic that the champion of the unborn, Fr. Frank Pavone has been dismissed from the priesthood, apparently for his blasphemous display of an aborted fetus upon an altar used for Mass, in the manner of a Eucharistic consecration, along with disobedience to his bishop, would become public knowledge on this day. Indeed, Pavone went to extremes, especially in his zeal for MAGA and campaigning for Trump. To be laicized as a result comes as a total shock.
It's sobering, actually. To think when there is a shortage of vocations and in a time when not a few priests fall away, an apparently zealous, faithful, observant Catholic priest is dismissed from the priesthood. People on Twitter are protesting, 'what about Fr. Martin? What about the German Synod participants?' What they are saying is what about liberal bishops and priests who endorse same sex marriage, homosexuality, divorced and remarried couple access to the sacraments. What about Biden and Pelosi - why aren't they excommunicated as well?
I don't know. To be honest, it's not up to me. No one asked me - ever. I never voted for abortion or gay marriage. I have no control over the decisions made by the Vatican. Perhaps I'm affected by them, but I have no say.
It seems to me when Pope Francis became Pope, and he began to teach and promulgate the merciful love of God and the meaning and practice of mercy, many rebelled against his teaching. Not a few good priests insisted it was wrong to not include the demands of God's justice - that mercy was inauthentic without certain conditions. They condemned 'the church of nice'. Many priests online opposed the Pope on this point - although the Holy Father never denied any doctrine nor the aspect of God's justice. Indeed, only recently he spoke about how repentance and conversion is necessary for all of us. I'm not sure how Pavone responded to the Pope, but he certainly desired to impose sanctions and even excommunication upon pro-choice politicians and Catholics, beginning with withholding absolution and communion from them.
I'm sorry for Pavone. The priesthood is a gift from God - an amazing mystical gift. To lose that is very disturbing. We have seen it happen to offenders against the 6th commandment - rarely do we see it happen to one who has abused his priesthood in this manner. No matter the case, laicization is a cause for repentance, not joy. It is more than sad, it strikes at the heart of deepest sorrow. I can't express in words what it means.
A severe mercy, perhaps. Nevertheless, it reminds me of something St. Therese said to a sister in her monastery whose spirituality was focused solely upon the justice of God.
St. Therese had to contend with those who criticized her little way and especially her confidence in the merciful love of God. Therese, reluctant to debate or argue a point, once explained to one of the nuns who opposed her 'doctrine' that was just fine, "Sister, if you want divine justice, you will get divine justice. The soul gets exactly what it expects of God." Perhaps this illustrates what happened in Pavone's case? Especially since he was so eager to see the pro-aborts excommunicated? I don't know and I refuse to judge or condemn.
Instead, I repent of my sins, my pride, my rash judgement and condemnation of others, and all the sins of my life. I pray for Frank Pavone.
No priest would ever be dismissed from the clerical state for being TOO pro-life.
If you think that's the issue with Mr. Frank Pavone, I'd invite you look at his long history of disobedience to his bishop, vulgarity, misuse of human remains, etc.