Monday July 12, 2010

“Pro-Choice” Quebec Priest Slams LifeSiteNews in Major Media Outlets

Editorial by John-Henry Westen

July 12, 2010 ( – Fr. Raymond Gravel, Canada’s infamous priest/politician who was ordered out of politics by Vatican pressure, has issued an open letter in Quebec’s daily Le Devoir in which he accuses LifeSiteNews of embarking on “an organized witch hunt” against him. Today CBC French television interviewed me on the matter. I explained that at LifeSiteNews we have indeed been concerned with Fr. Gravel’s actions and statements, and that we care enough about him to voice objections to the harm he is causing, most seriously the harm to himself.

Fr. Gravel is an ordained Roman Catholic priest, and as such is duty-bound to teach and represent the faith which he professes. Throughout his priesthood, however, he has decided instead to be a vocal critic of the Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexuality and abortion. In pointing out these irregularities LifeSiteNews hoped and still hopes that Fr. Gravel may be corrected for his own good and for the good of the faithful who are scandalized and, more grievously, misled by his false teachings.

We should all live authentically, to represent faithfully what we profess. Although we may at times fall, failing in our resolve to uphold the high standards of Christianity, at least we can then acknowledge our faults and try to mend our ways, always maintaining the truth of the principles despite our weaknesses.

However, it is quite another thing to profess a religion and be ordained a representative of it and then misrepresent its teachings: to decide that a Church should be different, more to your personal tastes, and then to try to subversively change it from within. It would be much better to be true to oneself and to reject the hypocrisy of claiming one reality and teaching another. Either call yourself a Catholic and embrace the teachings of the Catholic Church or else join another community of faith and be true to its tenets. There is honor in being true to one’s conscience in that way.

Fr. Gravel says LSN has taken it as a mission to have him condemned by Church authorities, and to this end “is unafraid of using lies and half-truths.” Specifically, he accuses LSN of distorting his words and taking them out of context.

I can see that from Fr. Gravel’s perspective there could be a misunderstanding about what he reads on LifeSiteNews. Fr. Gravel does not consider himself pro-abortion, but has said many times he is “pro-choice.” But for pro-life persons, there is no such thing as being “pro-choice,” since the “choice” being supported is the choice for abortion – the choice to murder an innocent unborn child. That can never be an acceptable choice and is certainly not the choice of the child. Thus the pro-life movement recognizes the term “pro-choice” as the propaganda it truly is – propaganda invented by abortion advocates to mislead and to further their cause.

So, much like President Bill Clinton, who also claimed that he did not like abortion but wanted to keep it “safe, legal, and rare,” Fr. Gravel is at times referred to on LifeSiteNews as “pro-abortion.”

But in Fr. Gravel’s eyes “pro-choice” is a ‘moderate’ position, where he neither likes abortion nor ever wishes to see it criminalized. He says, in fact, in some of his articles, that he does not favour abortion – but he also defended the award of the Order of Canada to arch-abortionist Henry Morgentaler, which is a curious paradox.

As an example of LSN’s “biased analysis,” he cites a June 1st article treating an op-ed he wrote, in which he criticized Cardinal Ouellet after the prelate insisted that unborn life be protected by law, even in cases such as rape. In what he may see as a middle-ground approach, Fr. Gravel advocated ending the division between those who want all abortions banned and those who would treat abortion as a form of contraception. He writes that men and women are meant “to give life, and abortion is certainly not the expression of this shared responsibility.”

But at the same time, he slams Cardinal Ouellet’s public defence of life by painting him as an extremist out of touch with Quebec society. “As a Church, we ought not to impose our conception of life under penalty of excommunication or of exclusion,” he wrote.

In an interview with Radio-Canada about the cardinal’s stance on abortion in cases of rape, Fr. Gravel said of the Quebec City archbishop: “I find it deplorable that a man who is a cardinal, archbishop of Quebec, would hold views like these. It’s as if women were nothing and what is important is to save their fetus, however it was conceived. We are dealing with rape here.” (see the interview in French)

During the CBC interview this afternoon I learned that Fr. Gravel sees LSN as warring against him. He is outraged at insulting emails which have come his way from those who have read our coverage. To be fair, we should note that we deplore hostilely worded emails. We deplore not only those sent to us, but also those sent to the likes of Fr. Gravel and pro-abortion politicians, since they do more harm than good. An honest and charitable challenge to accept the truth is what will move hearts and minds, and we have encouraged such effective communications frequently on LSN.

But while Fr. Gravel professes outrage at nasty emails, he has issued a few of those himself. A professor friend who wrote Fr. Gravel in French urging him to reform and also promising prayers, received a reply from Fr. Gravel. “I do not accept being judged by idiots of your temper,” wrote the priest from the diocese of Jolliet. As to the promise of prayers, Fr. Gravel replied: “You can keep your prayers for yourself. … Pray for yourself; you need more than anyone…I pity you!”

On my part, I honestly do not feel any anger or hatred for Fr. Gravel. I also know that I’m not the one to mete out any discipline that he might merit because of his views. However, in the apparent absence of parents, sometimes younger siblings must sound the alarm that mayhem has broken out in the household.

So yes, LSN has followed closely the ecclesiastical career of Fr. Gravel. Most bishops would have long-ago taken action to silence a publicly dissenting priest, particularly one who publicly denounces the nation’s leading prelate, as well the Vatican itself. But there has never been a public correction of Fr. Gravel. Even after he was forced out of politics by direct Vatican pressure, he continued to hold prominence in his diocese. Just recently he was appointed to train teachers of the faith (catechists) at the Cathedral. That sessions begin August 28. This is concerning and inexplicable.

I have to wonder if Fr. Gravel would not come to see the truth of the Church’s teaching if he was authoritatively informed of it by his superiors. For Bishop Gilles Lussier of the diocese of Joliette, it would be an act of love to correct the priest, and if he does not listen, then to remove him from office. After receiving the post of teacher of the faith at the Cathedral, is it any wonder Fr. Gravel should remain confused?

Contact Information:

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 Pedro López Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada

724 Manor Avenue

Ottawa, ON


Phone: (613) 746-4914

Fax: (613) 746-4786