Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 4, 2006
Dissident priest finds a home in the Commons
Gay rights advocate wins byelection for Bloc Quebecois
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
"I saw a want ad in the newspaper for male escorts. I didn't do it very long and I certainly didn't like it."
- Fr. Raymond Gravel
Lussier also noted that in exceptional circumstances priests can run for political office, but those conditions do not exist in Canada.
Lussier further pointed out that Gravel's choice to run for political office meant that he would not be able to exercise his sacramental ministry as a priest. He cannot officiate at marriages, conduct public Masses or hear confessions.
Lussier said this was done so as to avoid any confusion among the faithful and to "preserve the distinction" between the political and religious functions. He said that having to renounce the sacerdotal ministry represents a "painful situation" for the Church.
Canon law expert Father Frank Morrisey said in a Nov. 2 email the removal of the sacerdotal or priestly ministry is "a disciplinary action on the part of the bishop."
Gravel was one of 19 Quebec priests who signed a letter last February objecting to Church teaching on the ordination of homosexuals. He has also taken dissident stands on abortion and on the role of women in the Church.
Gravel told the Oct. 27 Le Journal de Montreal that he had written in favour of gay marriage, but the Church had demanded he no longer do so. He told the newspaper that he did not want his work as an MP to go contrary to his priesthood, so he would abstain from voting on certain issues.
A Nov. 27 Canwest News story, however, states Gravel now plans to vote against reopening the debate on same-sex marriage. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has promised a vote will take place this fall.
Though frequently described as openly gay in news reports, Gravel told the Nov. 27 Globe and Mail he was not a homosexual, but that he became a gay prostitute because he "desperately needed money" after leaving home at the age of 16 following a clash with his father.
"This was an easy way to make money," he said. "I saw a want ad in the newspaper for male escorts. I didn't do it very long and I certainly didn't like it."
Gravel decided to enter the priesthood after he was beaten up and left for dead, reports say. He was serving as a parish priest when he entered politics.
Gravel has been a sovereigntist for a long time.
"I don't want to be in government. I want to help my constituents, and I think it's a party that serves Quebec's interests very well in Ottawa," he told Canwest. "I'm a Quebecker and I have always supported Quebec autonomy."
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