December 28, 2007
FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS
Archbishop Luigi Ventura,
Apostolic Nuncio to Canada
724 Manor Avenue
Ottawa, ON KIM OE3
For the past five years, I have been involved as a Catholic activist in the Ottawa area. In this time, I have represented and acted on behalf of thousands of people in Ottawa and around the country. For this communication to you, however, I choose only to speak on my own behalf as a husband and a father of four young daughters.
The purpose of this communication is to bring to your attention the recent comments of Fr. Raymond Gravel, a Catholic priest who was given permission to enter politics by his Bishop, Most Rev. Gilles Lussier of the diocese of Joliette. Fr. Gravel is an elected member of Federal Parliament for the Repentigny riding in Montreal.
Let me first begin by expressing my astonishment as to why Fr. Gravel is even being permitted to hold a political office despite an explicit prohibition of such activity in the Church’s Code of Canon Law (Can. 285 §3). It is my understanding that such a prohibition might be overidden by the local bishop provided that there is some serious necessity for the “protection of the rights of the Church or the promotion of the common good” (Can. 287 §2). I could certainly understand if Fr. Gravel was permitted to stand for public office to denounce abortion or same-sex “marriage”. This indeed would be a valid exception to the rule, envisioned by Can. 287 §2 above. After all, it would be very edifying indeed in today’s culture of death to have a priest running for political office with the express intent of defending the right to life, religious freedom or expounding on the Church’s teaching on the common good. However, in the case of Fr. Gravel, his past comments and actions (a sample of which I have appended below) have clearly demonstrated that not only is he not interested in furthering Catholic social teaching, but that he openly acts and speaks against it. I fail to see, therefore, why Fr. Gravel is permitted to scandalize not only the Catholic faithful but the Canadian public as well.
Fr. Gravel’s latest scandalous comments relate to proposed legislation which provides protection for the unborn (in the case of a pregnant woman who is murdered). Speaking in Parliament, Fr. Gravel acknowledged that the murder of a pregnant woman is abominable. “But,” he added, “at the same time when the fetus is still in the mother they’re just one being. It’s only when the fetus is born is when it becomes another being, when it becomes a human being” (Source). Not only do these comments have no basis in basic biology, it is, as you well know, a heretical statement to assert that the fetus and mother are “one being”. As one simple proof, if Fr. Gravel’s assertion were true, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception would be false.
Speaking as a father, it is clear to me that the willingness to discipline is a prerequisite to a father who loves. It is the delinquent father who refuses to discipline because he couldn’t be bothered with the turmoil and conflict that sometimes arises because of it. And a father unwilling to endure conflict for the sake of his children’s well being is a father who does not love his children. We should expect, as children of the Church, that our spiritual fathers, the bishops, would be vigilant in maintaining some semblance of discipline among their priests. And yet, in the case of Father Gravel, not only do we see no discipline being applied against him after his outrageous conduct, his very own bishop allows him to spread his errors outside of the church and throughout the general population. Not content with corrupting the Body of Christ, Fr. Gravel has a new career and a new audience to apply his trade.
I want to express my deep appreciation to the Holy Father for his past intervention (while he was still a Cardinal) in attempting to end Fr. Gravel’s scandalous witness. I respectfully submit that his Holiness should once again intervene – this time as Pope and with his full apostolic authority and jurisdiction – to end the scandal caused by Fr. Gravel. Fr. Gravel’s bishop has not fulfilled his duty in this regard as Fr. Gravel’s scandals continue unabated with no foreseeable end in sight. Therefore, the solemn duty to reprimand Fr. Gravel publicly now rests with the Holy See.
I want to express to you in the strongest sentiment possible that Fr. Gravel’s scandal is not acceptable to me or my family, much less the unborn.
Rest assured of my prayers for your faithful mission to our country in union with St. Peter’s successor.
Yours in Our Sovereign Lord and King,
Some of the past comments that have been attributed to Fr. Gravel:
- In a letter published in La Presse in August 2003, Fr. Gravel wrote that the Church’s stand “is discriminatory, hurtful and offensive, not only for homosexuals…” (Source)
- Father Gravel, a priest at Saint-Joachim de La Plaine parish in the diocese of Joliette, made the following comment on June 20, 2004 on the French-language radio program SRC Dimanche Magazine (CBC-French’s Sunday Magazine): “I am pro-choice and there is not a bishop on earth that will prevent me from receiving Communion, not even the Pope.” (Source)
- Fr. Raymond Gravel was the spokesperson for a group of nineteen priests in Quebec who signed a letter denouncing the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality. The nearly 1000 word missive rejected both the Canadian Conference of Catholic bishops submission to Parliament and the Vatican’s documents on the issue of homosexuality. Published in La Presse on February 26, 2006, 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. (Source)