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does he or doesn't he?

By Diogenes (articles ) | Oct 31, 2006

Raymond Gravel (above) spent the first decade of adult life working the gay bars as a prostitute. When an unhappy customer put him in the hospital in 1982, he quit the pro game and, with astonishingly little difficulty, became a priest for the Diocese of Joliette (Quebec). Did his enthusiasm for deviant sexuality undergo a change in the intervening years? There's precious little evidence of it.

In an August 2003 letter to Montreal's La Presse, Gravel said the Vatican's position against same-sex marriage was"discriminatory, hurtful and offensive for everyone who works to promote human rights and to re-establish justice and equality." He attacked the church's hierarchy as "outmoded and sick," explaining that he's grown tired of the Catholic Church's hypocritical position on matters related to sexuality, such as homosexuality, abortion and the marriage of priests. "Every time the church speaks out on an issue, it's always to condemn. I can't stand it any more," he said. "We're trying to build things with people, and the hierarchy demolishes everything."

OK, Father Gravel "can't stand it any more." Does he take a leave of absence? Leave the priesthood? Leave the Catholic Church? None of the above: he goes public and makes a run for the Federal parliament, claiming ecclesiastical blessing for his candidacy.

Does this blessing involve the requisite ecclesiastical permission? Canon Law expert Ed Peters is extremely skeptical:

Prescinding from other canonically confusing aspects of this case, the only theory by which Fr. Gravel might have been given episcopal permission to seek national office would be in virtue of a dispensation from disciplinary law under 1983 CIC 87 and 90. The standard canonical authors recognize such a possibility, but when commenting specifically on the prohibition against priests holding major governmental office, they stress how low is the likelihood that such permission would ever "contribute to the spiritual good" of those under a bishop's care. In Fr. Gravel's case, of course, the assertion that such permission might serve a "spiritual good" would be laughable.

Laughable indeed. But his bishop may well share Gravel's sense of humor rather than our own. Whence I'd encourage you to keep up the e-mails to the relevant churchmen until we get a straight answer.

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  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Oct. 31, 2006 10:37 PM ET USA

    I'd say Pope Benedict should have some grave concerns about at least one of the Quebec bishops. And judging by the crickets chirping from the rest I'd say the bench is a lot more hapless up North than in the US. And that's saying something.

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