O Canada

By Diogenes (articles ) | Oct 29, 2006

"Prostitute-Turned-Priest to Run in By-Election" says the headline. Fresh from their ad limina visit to Rome, the Canadian bishops have given the green light to a gay-activist priest to run for the federal parliament. Some excerpts from the Toronto Globe & Mail (tip to Touchstone's Lee Podles):

MONTREAL -- First, Rev. Raymond Gravel had to get permission from the Vatican to run in a federal by-election. Now, the former prostitute who used to work in gay leather bars has to convince the voters of Repentigny riding that he is the right man to represent them. ...

Born in 1952 in St-Damien-de-Brandon, Mr. Gravel is the fourth child in a family of six. He moved to Montreal when he was 16. He followed a childhood dream and entered the priesthood in 1982 after a rough-and-tumble life that included work as a prostitute and in gay leather bars between 1976 and 1982.

Mr. Gravel gave up prostitution after being so severely beaten by a client that he ended up in hospital.

His tenure as a priest has not been low key, either. An outspoken advocate, Mr. Gravel has publicly decried the Roman Catholic Church's position on same-sex marriage. He also received a disciplinary letter from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI.

Mr. Gravel was also one of 19 priests who created a tempest in February when they signed an open letter criticizing the church's position on same-sex marriage and its opposition to ordaining gays.

"I would say that 50 per cent of the priests in Quebec are gay, but if I became a priest, it's because I'm a believer and I believe in the message of Christ," he said in an interview last year with Fugues, a gay magazine.

Just the man for the job. Gravel has earned the unfavorable attention of OTR before for his antipathies (go here and here), but obviously he has a protector who shares his point of view.

I do not believe the Globe & Mail has it right that "the Vatican" gave Gravel permission to run. None of the news stories mentions a specific Vatican office or officer or decree, and in none is there evidence that a reporter made contact with the Vatican in an attempt to confirm the permission story. It is much more likely that Gravel or Gravel's bishop succeeded in pulling the wool over the eyes of the Holy See by means of -- how shall we put it? -- tactically expedient omissions in their communication with the responsible persons, and then recast the Holy See's silence as approval.

Well, let's find out what the real story is. If you're among those Catholics who are perplexed by Gravel's candidacy, join me in e-mailing the Canadian nuncio and asking what permissions were given, to whom, and for what reason. The point to stress is not Father Gravel's sordid past, but his all-too-current dissent from Church doctrine and his candidature for a secular office. Be sure to include the link to the Globe & Mail's "Prostitute Turned Priest" story, as well as the articles linked here and here: they'll love you for it.

S.E.R. Msgr Luigi Ventura
Apostolic Nuncio, Canada
724 Manor Ave
Ottawa, ON K1M 0E3
email: [email protected]

The President of the Bishops' Conference would be delighted to respond as well. Clarification, after all, is what they're about.

S.E.R. Msgr André Gaumond
Canadian Conference of Cathoic Bishops
2500 Don Reid Promenade
Ottawa, ON K1H 2J2
email: [email protected]

And someone at the Francophone Desk at the Vatican Secretariate of State will want to share the glad news with his superiors:

R. Msgr Francois Duthel
Secretariate of State
Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano
00120 Città del Vaticano
e-mail: [email protected]

While you're at it, ask Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos if he was consulted in the decision:

S.Em.R. Dario Castrillón Hoyos
Congregation for Clergy
Piazza Pio XII, 3
00193 Rome, Italy
email: [email protected]

And Cardinal López Trujillo will be interested to learn how Canada is rallying to the defense of the family. It would be a shame to keep him out of the picture:

S.Em.R. Alfonso López Trujillo
Pontifical Council for the Family
Piazza S. Callisto 16
00153 Rome, Italy
email: [email protected]

I'm sure there must be a satisfactory explanation for Gravel's candidacy and that the churchmen listed above will rejoice in the chance to give it to us. When you find out what it is, be sure to let the folks at OTR know.

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  • Posted by: - Nov. 01, 2006 2:43 PM ET USA

    So Cardinal Ratzinger writes a letter of disipline to the offended priest, while Pope Benedict grants him permission to run for office? Hmmmm... perhape the good Cardinal and the good Pope should maybe meet and come to an understanding, eh? Oooops! Gee, there is something missing here...

  • Posted by: - Oct. 30, 2006 12:13 PM ET USA

    It would be very strange for the Bishops in Canada or Gravel to ask permission for Gravel to run for public office. Strange, they don't usually ask for permission on anything, when the answer clearly will be "NO". The Bishops in Canada remind me of the American Bishops, they think they are the "Vatican of the North" while the American Bishops think they are the "Vatican of the West". Of course, many times both are "out of touch" with the Authentic Roman Catholic Church and they know it.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 30, 2006 10:26 AM ET USA

    I sent a brief and to the point email to each of the addresses above. I'll let you know if I hear anything. Lord we beg you, raise up holy bishops the likes of St Charles Borromeo to defend the one true Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church!

  • Posted by: - Oct. 30, 2006 9:31 AM ET USA

    Hi guys, I just got off the phone (09h30 on Oct. 30, 2006) with an "authorized source" at the Apostolic Nunciature in Ottawa, Canada (he asked me not to mention his name). He told me that there had not been any declaration by the Nunciature concerning Fr. Raymond Gravel. So if "permission" has been given, it didn't come from the Nunciature. I did try to "upbraid" him politely, saying that there was much confusion and that we would appreciate if someone defended the Church. No reaction...

  • Posted by: - Oct. 29, 2006 4:24 PM ET USA

    "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to Him!" If we take our eyes off Christ for a moment in the presence of evil, we will lose our faith. Read the above article only in the presence of God and turn to Him sincerely in prayer - and make reparation.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 29, 2006 4:08 PM ET USA

    The Oxford Guide to Canadian English Grammar recommends the following construction: "leather bar unmentionables......eh?" when addressing emails, to assist Vatican curial staff in understanding the peculiar local cultural nuances to this problem. References to back bacon, toques, hockey and Tim Horton's doughnuts are desirable, but not strictly required. This offer void where prohibited by canon law.

  • Posted by: Moneo - Oct. 29, 2006 12:21 PM ET USA

    Pseudodionysius: The international gay sub-culture uses English to describe the activities that go on in such places; the modern "gay rights" movement started in the U.S., so the words generally appear in English on such bars in Spanish cities. So, you may wish to write "fue camarero en un 'bar de cuero', o 'leather bar', un bar para aficionados de sexo duro." That should do the trick.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 29, 2006 11:39 AM ET USA

    "When you find out what it is, be sure to let the folks at OTR know." Please, when you find out, don't just tell OTR! Tell me too! This is going on in my back yard. I want explanations. BTW, I did write something up about the letter mentioned by Uncle Di: "Mr. Gravel was also one of 19 priests who created a tempest in February". See here: http://www.inquisition.ca/en/serm/trop_trop.htm Thanks!

  • Posted by: - Oct. 29, 2006 11:10 AM ET USA

    Do any CWN readers know the spanish words for: "leather bar"? Buenos dios.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 29, 2006 8:43 AM ET USA

    I just can't figure out why some of the recovering Catholics I know are suggesting that the Roman Catholic Church is just a big, glamorous, confidence game.