Recently Fr. Frank Pavone has gotten a lot of beef over his use of the altar for an abortion video. A lot of people are calling for his dismissal and others are justifying his actions and seeing no offense done. I have seen people say those who criticize him on this are legalists.
“An altar, whether fixed or movable, must be reserved for divine worship alone, to the absolute exclusion of any profane use.” (Can. 1239 §1)
I give him the benefit of the doubt that he had good intentions and did not mean to desecrate the altar nor disrespect Christ, but that does not excuse his actions. The altar is clearly meant for divine worship alone: only the sacred vessels, Sacred Scripture and Missal can be placed on the altar along with candles and a crucifix. It’s not an issue of legalism, but an issue of reverence. We do not worship an aborted infant, nor is its body used for divine worship; therefore it is unfitting to place an aborted infant on the altar. I do not oppose his filming of an aborted infant; I oppose use of the altar for that other than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Unlike some people, I do not desire to see him defrocked over this one offense. We need our priests and cannot afford to lose them because of one offense, especially if they have done so much good for the Church. If anything he should be let go with a slap on the wrist. A simple warning is needed.