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Quebec's politician-priest defends award for abortionist July 09, 2008

Quebec's most controversial Catholic priest, Raymond Gravel, has once again brought embarrassment to his superiors. This time the priest-turned-federal politician has spoken out in support of the award of the Order of Canada to abortionist Henry Morgentaler.

While Catholic bishops across the country have spoken out against the award, Father Gravel says in a French-language opinion piece published in Le Devoir and Cyberpresse on July 8, "It does not belong to us to judge Dr. Henry Morgentaler by refusing him the distinction of the Order of Canada because of his fight for women who are living through the trauma of an unwanted pregnancy.

Gravel adds: "To refuse him this honor, it not only judging him, but it is also closing our eyes to the reality of the tragic death of thousands of women and on the physical and psychological consequences suffered by those to whom we have refused the right to live with dignity and justice."

Gravel goes so far as to criticize Catholic bishops for speaking out strongly on the matter. "It's not by criminalizing abortion that we will solve the problem. Rules and prohibitions only infantilize people. This is why I am inviting the leaders of the Catholic Church to greater moderation in their comments," he said.

In defiance of a Vatican direction, Gravel entered politics over two years ago, at which point his bishop stripped him of the right to function publicly as a priest or wear clerical garb. In the document stating this censure, Gravel's bishop-- Gilles Lussier of the diocese of Joliette-- noted that Gravel was not to contradict Church teaching in his parliamentary role. True to form however, Gravel has opposed Church teaching openly on numerous occasions. He has spoken out in favor of homosexual activism and even opposed a bill which would have recognized the right to life of unborn children.

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