Steve Jalsevac

LSN defense against ‘pro-choice’ Catholic priest’s $500,000 lawsuit now public

Steve Jalsevac
Steve Jalsevac

On February 15 of last year LifeSiteNews announced, much to the shock of our readers, that LifeSiteNews and five of its staff are the subject of a $500,000 lawsuit from a self-professed ‘pro-choice’ Quebec Catholic priest - Fr. Raymond Gravel.

Fr. Gravel, one of Canada’s most prominent priests and a former Member of federal Parliament, who was forced by the Vatican to leave politics, argued that LifeSiteNews’ coverage of some of his more controversial public statements amounted to “libel.” He was particularly incensed that we had referred to him as “pro-abortion,” whereas he says he is only “pro-choice” on abortion. Also, we have reported on Fr. Gravel’s severe public criticisms of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

We have not been able to speak about the case more than providing the scant details we did in February of 2011.  Now, however, our defense has been filed and we are finally able to reveal information on the case, information which many of you have been asking about for the last year of near-silence.

At long last, as of a few days ago, we are free to present many of the disturbing details about what we will argue is an abusive and politically-motivated lawsuit that amounts to an extreme attack on freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

We can also reveal the details about our countersuit, as well as ask for the financial support we desperately need to fight this case to its conclusion.

Today we are releasing a brief executive summary (see below) of the 99-page defense document. That will be followed by the publication of a much more detailed presentation of the defense, which we believe is a fascinating story on its own, in stages in the coming weeks.

At this time we really need the help of our supporters.

Fighting this suit is requiring the involvement of a team of lawyers and professional expert witnesses, plus many disbursements: it is thus far estimated that the additional costs to be paid for the defense, including future trial days in court perhaps next year, would total about $130,000.

Our lawyers are devoted to winning this case, and for the amount of work involved these fees are extremely reasonable.

* See also, A few more important items about the Gravel lawsuit *


Raymond Gravel vs. Life Site News – Chronological summary of the defence

March 2012 – Fr. Raymond Gravel’s motion against LifeSiteNews in the Superior Court of Québec has almost systematically ignored the declarations and triggering actions that he initiated, and to which the defendants simply responded in their articles, in an “action-reaction” manner that was illustrated in the numerous exhibits the plaintiff presented. This is an important aspect of the case that the defendants will present to the court.

Moreover defendants will submit to the court that plaintiff Raymond Gravel’s appeal is abusive; his use of the courts is excessive and unreasonable, and his goal is to settle the score with his political adversaries. His primary objective, it will be argued, is to limit the defendants’ freedom of expression within the context of highly public debates on abortion, same-sex marriage and euthanasia, seeking to deprive them the opportunity to fully exercise their constitutionally-protected rights – rights that are crucial to fulfilling their jobs as journalists.

Involvement by the Apostolic Nuncio in Canada, the Bishop of Joliette, Bishop Gilles Lussier - Rev. Raymond Gravel’s immediate superior – would seem to have mobilized the Catholic Church in Canada, and particularly in Québec, to deal with this unusual situation. On December 21, 2010, plaintiff Raymond Gravel brought legal action against LifeSiteNews in the Superior Court of Québec. 

On April 16, 2011 Fr. Gravel was quoted in Le Devoir stating, “Sometimes Rome can go over the head of the bishop; we saw this when I had to leave politics.” According to Raymond Gravel, wrote the reporter, “It is in the Church’s interest to accept his positions on homosexuality and abortion, because they represent Quebecois values. Otherwise, the Church here will die.”

We argue that since January 2011, Rev. Gravel has made himself the primary spinner of the defamation he claims to be a victim of by promoting an article, primarily on his website, entitled: “Why is Raymond Gravel suing” [English Translation]

The defendants will argue that, in granting interviews where he has been repeating the statements that he alleges are defamatory to him, Rev. Gravel has been contributing to his own “damages”. He has been publicizing these statements, we will plead, even more broadly than they were initially published by the defendants, attempting to bring justice for himself by condemning the defendants in a public arena, without awaiting the Court’s decision.

Among the articles presented for the defence, we note especially the following:

•  “The Vatican errs – The Catholic Church has no credibility in the current debate about the redefinition of marriage,” by Raymond Gravel, La Presse, August 5, 2003.

•  “Communion and abortion,” by Léo Kalinda, Dimanche Magazine, Radio-Canada, June 20, 2004: “As for me, I am pro-choice, and I will receive Communion on Sunday. There isn’t a bishop on this earth who will prevent me from receiving Communion on Sunday. Not one. Not even the Pope.” – Raymond Gravel.

•  “A missed opportunity,” La Presse, December 19, 2004. “The leaders of the Catholic Church, in this case the Catholic Bishops of Canada, are missing out on a historic opportunity. They have locked themselves up in their archaic and obsolete doctrines that were defined in a completely different era, and which have become irrelevant for the majority of believers; they refuse any re-definition of marriage that would allow homosexual couples to legalize their union.” – Raymond Gravel.

•  “Raymond Gravel, the ‘pink’ priest,” Fugues, June 2005: “The positions I have taken regarding abortion and gay marriage were not well received at the Vatican. My bishop (Bishop Gilles Lussier, Bishop of Joliette) even received a letter from the Holy See, which stated that if I persisted in not conforming to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, I would have to endure the consequences.” – Raymond Gravel.

•  “Priests denouncing the Church’s attitude regarding the issue of homosexuality, ‘The Church is depressive, not evangelical’.” Raymond Gravel, co-signatory, February 26, 2006.

•  Regarding bill C-484, House of Commons (protection of the fetus), Raymond Gravel, Hansard, December 13, 2007: “Mr. President, I am a little uncomfortable with this bill. […] I am a Catholic priest, and I’m having a little bit of a problem determining where I stand with this bill, simply because the deputy who is presenting it is part of a group that is called ‘Pro-Life’, which, in my humble opinion, is a group that is rather extreme and fanatical about life.”

•  “Henry Morgentaler: A Hero or a Criminal?” Raymond Gravel, Le Devoir/La Presse, July 1, 2008: “Whether he wanted to or not, this doctor worked tirelessly to make abortion a legal medical act [...] That’s why I would ask the leaders of the Catholic Church to show a little more discretion with their comments.”

•  “Raymond Gravel’s Chronicle – Crisis of values or religion?” Raymond Gravel, Le Journal de Montréal, October 16, 2008: “If Bishop Ouellet claims to be a victim of contempt from the Quebecers, perhaps it’s due to the fact that he personifies this religious authoritarianism. […] It would seem to me that this isn’t a crisis of values, but rather a challenge for a religion that tramples on, imposes, rejects and excludes, all in the name of a doctrine they won’t modernize.”

•  “An organized witch hunt,” Raymond Gravel, Le Devoir, July 12, 2010.

The LifeSiteNews attorneys will submit to the court that the plaintiff did not prove any of the damages that he alleged in his action, where he most notably alleges that “they have robbed him of his great pride as a politician, a dream that came true in the form of a secondary career, and from which he gained great satisfaction.” In fact, our argument is that the plaintiff made the decision of his own volition to comply, albeit belatedly, to his Church’s internal rule of discipline, prohibiting priests from actively pursuing politics.

Regarding the plaintiff’s reputation, we will propose, an exhaustive examination of the press reviews produced for the defence’s case demonstrates that over the years, Rev. Gravel built his own reputation as a polemicist (a person who argues in opposition to another; controversialist)

The defence will also argue that Fr. Gravel meticulously fuels, maintains and cultivates this reputation himself, as he, most notably, resorts to provocation, as he explained to a journalist during an interview: “We must protest, make claims, provoke and even shock, so pockets of resistance may dwindle and disappear.” In short, LifesiteNews attorneys will claim, Mr. Gravel already was a controversial character, regardless of the defendants’ actions, sowing the very controversy of which he claimed to be victim.

As a result of the abusive nature of the present action, the defendants request that the Courts order the plaintiff to pay damages in compensation for the injuries incurred by the defendants, dismiss the action brought by Rev. Raymond Gravel, and accept the defence of LifeSiteNews.

Journalists or others who wish to obtain a copy of the complete 99-page LifeSiteNews defense document may obtain a copy of either the French or English versions from the Joliette court (Court document file is:  705-17-003784-103 titled Defence and counterclaim of Hilary White and Patrick B. Craine). As well, the full defense document is expected to be available via the Internet in the near future.

Note: because this is a matter still before the courts and LifeSiteNews is named in the lawsuit, comments have been disabled.

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Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Building of the European Court of Human Rights.
Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website,, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon /
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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