In a possible attempt to distance the Catholic Church from militant anti-abortion groups, New York Cardinal Edward Egan has asked Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, to step down and resume his position at the Archdiocese of New York. In the past, Pavone and Priests for Life have been linked to and praised the acts of many anti-abortion extremists, including Joseph Scheidler. Scheidler was convicted in 1999 of 21 counts of extortion and threats of physical violence against abortion providers in the landmark case Now v. Scheidler. Anthony De Stefano, the interim National Director of Priests for Life, says he was “shocked” by the Catholic Church’s decision. Pavone had been the director of Priests for Life since 1993.