By John-Henry Westen

MONTREAL, February 27, 2006 ( – Making international news from Canada today is a letter signed by nineteen priests in Quebec denouncing the Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality. The nearly 1000 word missiveÂrejects the recent submission by the Canadian Conference of Catholic bishops to Parliament on same sex marriage, and also the recent Vatican documents barring persons with deep seated homosexual tendencies from the priesthood.Â

Published in La Presse yesterday, under the headline “Enough is enough”, the letter takes issue with the Church’s official teaching that the homosexual tendency is disordered, suggesting that the teaching contributes to “homophobia”, and is grossly outdated.Â

The spokesman for the group, Rev. Raymond Gravel, is not new to readers since Fr. Gravel has taken similar actions at least twice before. Each time readers contacted Gravel’s bishop for action on the matter, but no decisive action was taken.Â

When in 2003 Gravel wrote an open letter condemning then-newly issued documents on homosexual unions, readers expressed their concerns to his bishop, Joliette Bishop Gilles Lussier. ( ) The following year, Fr. Gravel appeared on radio saying, “I am pro-choice and there is not a bishop on earth that will prevent me from receiving Communion, not even the Pope.” After the incident a pro-life leader in the province publicly called on Bishop Lussier to intervene. Campagne Québec-Vie president Luc Gagnon asked the bishop to suspend the priest or “at the very least to publicly admonish him.”

Gagnon told, “By its silence in the face of such a scandal, the Catholic hierarchy gives the impression that it approves of the serious doctrinal errors of Father Gravel who continues obstinately to speak to the Quebec media.” ( )

Now, Bishop Lussier has five more publicly dissenting priests in his diocese to deal with. In addition to Gravel, Joliette priests Eric Genereux, Bernard Houle, Pierre-Gervais Majeau, Guylain Prince, and Claude Ritchie signed yesterday’s open dissent letter.

One of the authors of the current letter, Father Claude Lefebvre of the Saint-Étienne parish in Montreal, also spoke to the media about the letter. His archbishop, Montreal Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, has also been repeateadly begged for years by the faithful to take action on dissenting priests to no avail.

Although not a current signatory to the dissent letter, Fr. John Walsh, the parish priest of St. Jean de Brebeuf parish in LaSalle Quebec, went so far as to tell the media he was considering marrying homosexuals. When contacted Cardinal Turcotte’s spokesman Fr. Toupin, the priest had no comment about Fr. Walsh’s frequent public statements in the media contradicting Catholic teaching. Frustrated by repeated questions, Fr. Toupin hung up without responding. ( )

Five priests from the Montreal diocese have signed the current letter. Their names: Andre Anctil, Jose V. Arruda, Jean-Pierre Langlois, Claude Lefebvre, and Claude Lussier.Â

Four priests from the diocese of Saint-Jean-Longueuil signed the letter. Jean-Yves Cedilot, Jocelyn Jobin, Alain Leonard, and Lucien Lemieux. Msgr. Lemieux is a regional vicar of the diocese and a professor at the University of Montreal.

Completing the nineteen signatories were Benoit Fortin, Michel Lacroix, and Claude St-Laurent from the diocese of Gatineau and Jacques Pelletier from the diocese of Gaspe.

Notably, none of the dissenting priests hailed from the diocese of Quebec City where Cardinal Marc Ouellet has been outspoken in expounding and defending the Church’s constant teachings on these issues.

Canon Lawyer Peter Vere told that the situation is now beyond local bishops and that the faithful should contact the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to express their concerns. Noting that the story on the dissent has made international news, Vere said, “It’s no longer just a scandal for a particular diocese. It is a scandal for lay people who are legitimately confused by the antics of these priests, who will likely mistake silence (on the part of the bishops) for consent.”

“At this point I would encourage people to write the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) because it no longer concerns priests or bishops but concerns a direct attack on the faith and morals of the Catholic Church,” Vere added.Â

To send respectful communications:
Mail or fax (most effective):
Cardinal William Levada
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11, 00193 Roma, Italy

To email the CDF:
Cardinal William Levada
E-mail: [email protected]

See the full dissent letter (in French) here: