Anti-choice extremist Frank Pavone, a Catholic priest who runs an advocacy group committed to abolishing access to abortion in the United States, declared Sunday that the 2020 election “is a spiritual battle and no less than a civil war.” Pavone’s statement, which was distributed by his group Priests for Life Monday morning, urged his “fellow patriots” to put aside other activities and “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.”
Pavone resigned from advisory positions with President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign last week at the direction of Roman Catholic Church authorities, the Catholic News Agency reported Saturday. But Pavone immediately made it clear that giving up his position with the campaign would not diminish his zeal to elect right-wing candidates at all levels of government. Pavone’s Monday statement asserted that his platform “is the Gospel of Jesus Christ” and charged that the Democratic Party has “radically abandoned that Gospel, as well as the principles on which America was founded and Western Civilization rests.”
Earlier in July, Pavone claimed that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, a lifelong Catholic, “is NOT a faithful, practicing Catholic no matter how much he may protest.”
Here are more excerpts from Pavone’s hyperpartisan statement:
A Democrat victory would bring the holocaust of abortion, paid for by taxpayers, to unprecedented levels, taking away every restriction, even on infanticide; it would destroy our nation, bringing us socialism and open borders; it would replace law and order with mob rule and depleted law enforcement; it would deprive the Church of the freedom to conduct her mission and instead subject ministries to oppressive mandates, as Biden has already promised; it would destroy the family and any public protection for it; it would ruin our economy, ensnare us in destructive international agreements, and allow China to pursue its destructive agenda; it would fill the courts with judges who tear up the Constitution rather than apply it; it would roll back the protections President Trump has put in place for the consciences of healthcare workers, student on campus, and children who want to pray in school.
Only by choosing the Republican candidates can we preserve the values we hold as Americans and believers. That is not the canonization of a party; it is simply the recognition of who our friends and enemies in the political realm are at this point in time.
Pavone, whose extremism has alienated him even from some other anti-abortion activists and church officials, drew harsh criticism for a video he made while campaigning for Trump in 2016 in which he placed what he said was an aborted fetus on an altar table.
In 2017, Pavone joined an anti-choice rally organized by Christian Dominionists whose participants were urged to pray that God would “remove” Supreme Court justices so that Trump could name more anti-choice replacements. In a brochure distributed in advance of the 2018 midterm election, Priests for Life said that voting for a pro-choice candidate was akin to voting for a candidate who declared their support for terrorism. In 2015, Pavone said that while he doesn’t blame anyone except the shooter for a killing spree at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, if anyone were to be blamed, it would be pro-choice activists who he said were “poisoning the moral climate in our nation.”
Pavone has urged Republican lawmakers passing bills banning abortion not to include any exceptions even in cases of rape and incest. Pavone has been cagey about his position on whether and how women would be punished when abortion is criminalized, though he has more explicitly endorsed punishment for doctors and “accomplices”—people who drive a woman to a clinic, for example. Though Priests for Life claims that it is committed to nonviolent advocacy, Pavone has left open the door to treating women who have abortions “just like we do with the murder of born people.” Stand True, the youth outreach arm of Priests for Life, has also suggested that women and doctors involved in abortion should be legally punished as murderers. Trump-supporting anti-abortion activist Alveda King runs Priests for Life’s African American outreach campaign.