By John-Henry Westen

Raymond GravelOTTAWA, July 8, 2008 ( – Quebec’s most controversial Catholic priest, Raymond Gravel, has once again brought embarrassment to his superiors.  This time the priest-turned-federal politician has spoken out in support of the award of the Order of Canada to arch-abortionist Henry Morgentaler.

While Catholic bishops across the country have spoken out against the award, Fr. Gravel, says in a French-language opinion piece published in Le Devoir and Cyberpresse today, “It does not belong to us to judge Dr. Henry Morgentaler by refusing him the distinction of the Order of Canada because of his fight for women who are living through the trauma of an unwanted pregnancy.”  Gravel adds: “To refuse him this honor, it not only judging him, but it is also closing our eyes to the reality of the tragic death of thousands of women and on the physical and psychological consequences suffered by those to whom we have refused the right to live with dignity and justice.”

Gravel goes so far as to criticize Catholic bishops for speaking out strongly on the matter. “It’s not by criminalizing abortion that we will solve the problem. Rules and prohibitions only infantilize people. This is why I am inviting the leaders of the Catholic Church to greater moderation in their comments,” he said.

In defiance of a Vatican direction, Gravel entered politics over two years ago, at which point his bishop stripped him of the right to function publicly as a priest or wear clerical garb.  

In the document stating this censure, Gravel’s bishop – Gilles Lussier of the diocese of Joliette – noted that Gravel was not to contradict Church teaching in his Parliamentary role.  True to form however, he has opposed Church teaching openly on numerous occasions.  He has spoken out in favour of homosexual activism and even opposed a bill which would have recognized the right to life of wanted children – Bill C-484, the Unborn Victims of Crime Act.  (see coverage here)

In his column today, Gravel praised Morgentaler saying, “Whether we like it or not, this doctor worked tirelessly to make abortion a legal medical act in order to help poor and indigent women to end the pregnancies for which they could not take responsibility.”

In fact, Morgentaler was noted by his peers as acting for selfish rather than humanitarian reasons.  Morgentaler had his licence to practice medicine suspended in 1976 by the Disciplinary Committee of the Professional Corporation of Physicians of Quebec.  Catherine Dunphy’s 1996 biography of Morgentaler notes that the disciplinary committee “commented on ‘an attitude which is primarily directed to protecting his fees. No really valid interview is held before proceeding with the abortion. This behaviour confers a mercenary character on the doctor-patient relationship. This committee is incapable of reconciling this behaviour with the humanitarian concern that the accused invoked throughout his defence.’”

Outrageously, Gravel compared condemning Morgentaler for genocide for his countless abortions to similarly condemning the Catholic Church for its opposition to condoms in Africa.  “It would be dangerous to condemn Henry Morgentaler for genocide or for crimes against humanity because he is deemed responsible of the deaths of millions of human fetuses, much like it would be unjust to condemn the Church which, by refusing the use of condoms to people in African countries, would have provoked the deaths of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children infected with HIV/AIDS.”

Campaign Life Coalition President Jim Hughes commented to “I’m surprised he can still describe himself as a Catholic priest – someone who’s come out publicly against the Church and here he goes again.”  Hughes added, “We hope and pray that eventually church authorities will move to completely strip this man of his priestly status.  He is creating scandal not only for Catholics but for all people of faiths in the country.”

To respectfully express concerns contact:

  Most Rev. Gilles Lussier
  Bishop of Joliette
  2, rue Saint-Charles-Borromée Nord
  C.P. 470
  Joliette, Québec
  J6E 6H6

  Tel:(450) 753-7596
  Fax:(450) 759-0929
  E-mail: [email protected] 

  Archbishop Luigi Ventura,
  the Apostolic Nuncio to Canada:
  724 Manor Avenue
  Ottawa, ON
  K1M 0E3
  Phone: (613) 746-4914

  Rev. Gravel (he prefers French):
  [email protected]