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October 4, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – There have been several significant developments in the $500,000 lawsuit launched by Quebec priest Fr. Raymond Gravel against LifeSiteNews (LSN) Canada, and Campagne Quebec Vie.  To begin with, a few preliminary motions LSN put forward were rejected.  However, LifeSiteNews lawyer Jean-Yves Côté recently won a partial victory regarding his request for a pre-trial discovery questioning of Gravel’s superior, Joliette Bishop Gilles Lussier.

Read more about the lawsuit here.

Canadian Catholic News (CCN) reporter Deborah Gyapong composed two stories regarding the latest developments in the lawsuit of Fr. Raymond Gravel, which were recently published in at least three Canadian Catholic newspapers.  The main issue, as reported by Gyapong, was a Quebec judge’s granting of “leave for the defendants’ lawyer to question Father Gravel’s bishop and obtain internal Church documents so he can prepare a defence against the lawsuit filed last December.”

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CCN quotes LSN attorney Côté stating “My motion was only partially granted” and Gravel attorney Jean-Philippe Lemire’s emphasis that “Côté can’t interview Bishop Lussier on whether he thinks Father Gravel has remained faithful to the Church,” a main consideration of the case as emphasized by Fr. Gravel.

This last preliminary motion and the two previous ones that were lost were all required to be heard in the small court in Joliette, where Fr. Gravel resides and appears to be immensely popular and well known.

The first of Gyapong’s articles, published in the BC Catholic, provides an overview of the status of the lawsuit case and mentions it is likely that the trial date will be in either 2013 or 2014 because of the complexity of the case.

The other article appeared in the Prairie Messenger and the Catholic Register.

This second story included comments from a lawyer and the spokesperson for the Catholic Civil Rights League expressing concerns that the questioning of the bishop and request for his relevant correspondence from the Vatican could have potential serious ramifications for the Church.

LifeSiteNews has indicated concern that the comments in the article may be seen by some as a criticism of the LifeSiteNews defense. Editor-in-chief John-Henry Westen therefore submitted a letter to the editor of the Catholic Register indicating that LSN had no choice in the matter, because it was Fr. Gravel himself who, in his legal complaint, had inserted his bishop into the case.

Following is the full text of Westen’s letter with the items edited out of the published letter noted in bold:

Re Bishop must submit to questioning in priest’s lawsuit against LifeSite

At LifeSiteNews we agree it is unseemly to have a bishop involved in secular courts. But we must stress that it was Fr. Raymond Gravel, not LifeSiteNews, that involved his Bishop in this case.  Fr. Gravel’s initiating motion involves Bishop Gilles Lussier in four key statements requiring redress.

With the at least tacit permission of his Bishop, Rev. Gravel has unfortunately chosen to go the route of the secular courts to resolve his complaints regarding matters of religious and moral considerations. We did not choose this.

We have to deal with a situation that we did not create, and that is threatening the very existence of LifeSiteNews.  We have no choice but to defend ourselves. The livelihood of our entire staff, a number of whom are married and with children is at serious risk here.

This case is about a priest who called himself ‘pro-choice’ who became a Bloc Quebecois politician. Nevertheless he writes in his motion that “He has always been faithful to the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church.”

Do we think that matters of Catholic Church discipline and moral teachings are appropriate for secular courts to address? Of course not. But, again, this is happening because Fr Gravel has chosen to go this route, not LifeSiteNews.

We are very confident of our defence which will become public when we file our initial written defence.

John-Henry Westen
Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief
LifeSiteNews.com

LifeSiteNews is pleased that the Register published Westen’s response to the September 7 article.

The four key statements involving Fr. Gravel’s bishop, and which were too lengthy to include in the letter, are as follows, with the English translation on top and the original French underneath:

47. f) The plaintiff was authorised by the Bishop of Joliette to be candidate for a federal political party in Canada according to a decree and Canon Law that provides a possibility to derogate from the common norm prohibiting members of the clergy to be involved in politics;

(Le demandeur a été autorisé en toute légalité par l’Évêque de Joliette de se présenter comme candidat pour un parti politique fédéral au Canada selon un décret et le droit canon qui donne des possibilités de dérogation à la norme commune qui empêche les membres du clergé de se présenter en politique; )

51. Defendants recognize, having repeatedly mentioned it in their press articles, that although Canon Law prohibits priests from exercising active political functions, the final decision lies with local Bishop;

(Les défendeurs reconnaissent, pour l’avoir mentionné à plusieurs reprises dans leurs articles, que bien que le droit canon empêche les prêtres d’exercer des fonctions politiques, que la décision finale revient à l’Évêque local;)

61. After numerous complaints filed by LSN, CQV and their readers, the Vatican intervened on several occasions with the Bishop of the diocese of Joliette, in order to have him discipline the Plaintiff;

(À la suite de nombreuses plaintes formulées par LSN, CQV et leurs lecteurs, le Vatican est intervenu à plusieurs reprises auprès de l’Évêque du diocèse de Joliette afin que ce dernier corrige le demandeur;)

62. In November 2010, the Vatican urged the Bishop of the diocese of Joliette to withdraw from the Plaintiff the responsibility of biblical teaching in the diocese;

(Le ou vers la fin du mois de novembre 2010, le Vatican a exhorté l’Évêque du diocèse de Joliette de retirer au demandeur la responsabilité de l’enseignement biblique dans le diocèse;)

See the B.C. Catholic article: Joliette bishop may testify in “LifeSuit”
See the Catholic Register article: Joliette bishop may testify in “LifeSuit” Priest seeks $500,000 from LifeSiteNews By Deborah Gyapong

See the LifeSiteNews original announcement of the lawsuit

Note: Comments are disabled because the case is still before the courts and LifeSiteNews is a party to the case.

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