As we wait for the unfolding of Fr. Raymond Gravel’s defamation suit against LifeSiteNews and Campagne Québec-Vie, many people have raised questions about the Canadian bishops’ silence on this matter, and more specifically the absence of comment from Fr. Gravel’s own bishop, Msgr. Gilles Lussier (Joliette), who was made aware of the suit by Fr. Gravel before he went public.
Bishop Lussier is apparently in Montréal and unavailable to comment, as if Montréal was such a far and isolated land that he couldn’t react to the situation (it’s only a 1 hour drive from Joliette to Montréal). In any case, his agenda says that he’ll be back in Joliette no later than Monday, February 22nd. So if he has something to say, we should hear it soon. Check back to our site in the coming days for updates.
In the meantime, it’s worthwhile to remember that Fr. Gravel has a long history of outlandish public remarks against Church teaching, none of which have been corrected by the bishop. In fact, back in 2005, Fr. Gravel stated that his bishop was supporting him despite objections from the Vatican. According to Fr. Gravel, the day his bishop is replaced, he could be in for some trouble.
In 2005, Fr. Gravel gave an interview to the gay magazine Fugues in which he made some bold statements. Socon or Bust will provide a compete analysis of this article in the coming days. In the meantime, I just want to highlight one key passage.
Here’s the original in French:
Un franc-parler qui lui a aussi valu des réprimandes. «Mes prises de position sur l’avortement et sur le mariage gai n’ont pas bien été reçues au Vatican. Mon évêque (Mgr Gilles Lussier, évêque de Joliette) a même reçu une lettre du Saint-Siège disant que si je persistais à ne pas être conforme à la doctrine de l’Église catholique, je devrais en subir les conséquences.» Raymond me fixe de son regard perçant et ajoute : «Et devine qui a signé la lettre en question?… Le cardinal Ratzinger lui-même qui, avant d’être pape, était préfet de la Congrégation de la doctrine de la foi», le puissant organisme qui surveille la fidélité au magistère des théologiens et des ecclésiastiques.
«Heureusement, ajoute-t-il, j’ai l’appui de mon évêque. Mais le jour où il partira, je risque d’avoir du trouble.» (Source)
For the benefit of our English readers, here’s my translation:
This straight-talking has also earned him some reprimands. “My positions on abortion and gay marriage have not been well received at the Vatican. My bishop (Mgr Gilles Lussier, bishop of Joliette) even received a letter from the Holy See saying that if I persisted in not being conformed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, I would have to suffer the consequences.” Raymond stares at me with his piercing glance and adds: “And guess who signed the letter in question?… Cardinal Ratzinger himself who, before becoming pope, was the prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith”, the powerful organization that monitors the faitfuness to the Magisterium of theologians and clergy.
«Fortuntely, he adds, I have the support of my bishop. But the day he leaves, I risk being in trouble.»
The word used by Fr. Gravel, appui, is defined as follows:
Nom masculin singulier
- fait d’appuyer, de soutenir
- support matériel
- au sens figuré protection matérielle ou non
- (phonétique) augmentation de l’intensité de la voix (appui de la voix, appui sur une syllabe) (Source)
There’s a very strong connotation of active support in the word appui. So we’re not talking about a bishop who was merely silent, missing in action. Clearly, the bishop was backing him and shielding him from the Vatican, hence Fr. Gravel’s deep pessimism about his fate the day the bishop is gone.