Fr Frank Pavone posted videos featuring an aborted foetus to Facebook and YouTube

An American priest has been criticised for using a dead baby as a prop in an endorsement for Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency.

In a video posted to Facebook, Fr Frank Pavone, who leads the New York-based group Priests for Life, placed an aborted foetus on an altar. He later posted a second video featuring a dead baby to YouTube.

In a message accompanying the Facebook video, he wrote: “Today I am showing you a child who was killed by abortion and entrusted to us by a pathologist for burial. We have had a funeral for this baby, who rests in a Memorial Chapel, but today I am showing him to you because in this election we have to decide if we will allow this child killing to continue in America or not.

“Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform says yes, let the child-killing continue (and you pay for it); Donald Trump and the Republican platform says no, the child should be protected.”

Fr Pavone’s use of the dead baby has been criticised by Ed Mechmann, director of public policy for the Archdiocese of New York, who said the priest’s actions were “absolutely appalling, and deserves to be repudiated by all of us who consider ourselves to be pro-life in the fullest meaning of that word.”

In a blog post on the Archdiocese of New York’s website, he wrote: “A human being has been sacrificed and the altar of God has been desecrated, all for politics.”

Fr Thomas Petri, vice-president of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, told Catholic News Agency: “The issue here is the dignity of the child that was used, and violating the dignity of his or her body on an altar of God – which is supposed to be used for divine worship. It really is a profane violation.”

In response to the criticism, Fr Pavone told the Renew America website that “the issue is not how I’m treating a baby”.

“The issue is how the abortionists, supported by the Democrats, are treating these babies. What’s sacrilegious is abortion, and voting for those who support it. It’s time we get our heads screwed on straight about who the bad guys are,” he said.

“We are living in the midst of a holocaust, and our nation faces a choice on November 8 between electing people, like Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, who will continue that holocaust and have us pay for it, and Donald Trump and the Republican Party, who are committed to working to bring it to an end. This choice is neither confusing nor difficult.”