Intro: Lent is a perfect time to say, "I'm sorry." The Church and the prolife movement are families, and no family member is exempt from sometimes having to apologize for hurting other members of the family. Moreover, no leader can be successful unless he or she recognizes mistakes and tries to make up for them.
In that spirit, Fr. Frank continues in the Lenten spirit to reach out to various people he may have offended. Today's remarks follow. (See previous letters here.)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On November 6, 2016, I posted a video message on my personal Facebook account, www.Facebook.com/FatherFrankPavone, during which I had in front of me the body of an aborted baby.
The video caused a very divided response among the faithful, with many people expressing that they were scandalized, confused and distressed.
I write today to apologize for the hurt, distress and confusion that were caused.
The purpose of this letter is not to explain my position on any of the strategic disagreements that people have about what I did. I have clearly outlined my thoughts about that elsewhere.
Instead, I write to humbly and clearly apologize to all who were confused and distressed as to why a priest would place an aborted baby on an altar to deliver a message.
Simply put, I did what I did hastily, and without the consultation and advice I normally seek in these matters.
Because of this haste, I was careless in the words I used to describe what was happening -- words that led people to question whether this baby had been exhumed or whether I was keeping such bodies without burying them.
Neither of those was the case, but again, the point is that I apologize for carelessly creating the confusion.
I also apologize for not stopping to think about the distress that would result from where I placed the baby -- an action that led people to question why an altar or chapel was being used in this way and that even made some think this was in the context of a service.
Many were understandably troubled by all this.
I apologize because I never want people to think that I would misuse a sacred object or a sacred space. The fact that this did not occur during a service, nor in an official chapel, nor on a consecrated altar is not even the point. The point is that I should have paused to consider that good, prolife Catholics would be distressed by seeing what I did. And for that I am sorry.
In addition to this, I also wish to convey my remorse over the media storm and unintended scandal to some of the faithful resulting from my actions.
I was sincerely trying to act in good faith at all times. I would never purposely do anything to violate Church law or the dignity of the child, who had already been desecrated, dishonored, and abused by the abortion industry.
But in the course of exercising my ministry, I do so as a priest and always want to convey my highest regard for what that means, in full union with the Church and her discipline.
Unfortunately, I inadvertently did not convey that, and for this I am sorry.
Finally, I also apologize to my bishop for the distress this has caused him personally, and I thank him for the guidance he has offered me in this matter. That guidance has assisted me in carrying out my ministry as a priest.
Fr. Frank Pavone