In an earlier post, we looked at how Fr. Raymond Gravel butchered the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist. Today we gain some insight into his views of Truth and Divine Revelation. Once again, we’ll rely Fr. Gravel’s own words.
On Sunday January 3, 2010 (Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord), Fr. Gravel gave a homily entitled “L’universalité du salut!“, which means “the universality of salvation!”. Sounds like a good title for the Epiphany, right? Let’s see what else he says.
The first paragraph isn’t too bad, although I find it curious that he speaks of the “science” of astrology in an apparent reference to the Wise Men’s utilization of a star to locate Jesus. I would hardly rank astrology as a “science”. But let’s not linger on such petty details. We have bigger fish to fry today.
The second paragraph of his homily reads as follows (my translation):
1. Faith: certainty or hope? What has always harmed the Faith is the certainty of those who think they possess the truth about God and the world. How much suffering has been inflicted on people because of these false certainties? How many illusions taken for realities? How many condemnations and exclusions in the name of a pseudo-truth? It seems to me that the biblical texts of this Feast teach us that faith is never a certainty, but a path of hope that we need to take each day without knowing where it will lead us. (Source)
Herein lies the foundation for most of Fr. Gravel’s dissent. He rejects the possibility that humans can know the Truth when it comes to God. This means that he doesn’t understand or recognize Divine Revelation and the Church’s infallible charism for transmitting Divine Revelation throughout history. Such a statement necessarily means a rejection of the teaching authority of the Magisterium. In Fr. Gravel’s paradigm, I can’t help but wonder why Jesus would have bothered to come to Earth if nobody would be able to know the Truth he taught. This attitude sets the groundwork for his relativistic attitude towards so many Church teachings.
But he doesn’t simply deny that we can possess Truth, he seems disgusted by those who claim to possess it, saying that they are responsible for all kinds of “harm”, “suffering”, “condemnations” and “exclusions”. It’s true that some people have abused Christianity and used it to justify some atrocities. Although these incidences are most unfortunate, they were not representative of the Faith. That’s why they’re called abuses and roundly denounced by anybody who has their head screwed on straight. But Fr. Gravel doesn’t make this distinction. Any truth, it seems, is a menace. This is a very imbalanced perspective. He pursues this idea even further in the fourth paragraph of his homily when he states:
How many religions today have taken over from the people of Israel at the time of Isaiah and have the certainty of being in the truth? They think they own God! How many wars, conflicts and massacres have been and continue to be provoked by religious fundamentalism that possesses the truth?
Is that a statement becoming of a Catholic priest, or any Christian for that matter? Sounds more like atheist rhetoric to me.
Returning to the first quote above, the last sentence of that paragraph would be amusing if it weren’t so tragic. He claims that Scripture says that Faith is never a certainty, but rather a path of hope. I think he’s alluding to the Gospel reading about the journey of the Wise Men who followed a star without knowing exactly what was in store for them (Matt 2:1-12). This notion of Scripture is absolutely absurd. One could concede that at the individual level, faith isn’t a certainty because it can’t necessarily be scientifically observed or proven in a manner that would convince 100% of humanity. So there’s some uncertainty for the individual as he/she makes the decision to believe. But Scripture itself is not ambiguous about the Truth it proclaims. No way, José. In Sacred Scripture, Almighty God makes his “sales pitch”, so to speak, to convince humanity of his love, faithfulness and holiness, as well as his loving plan of salvation for us. Scripture is presented in no uncertain terms. The Truth is exposed in a confident, assertive and even forceful manner, without any wobbles, haziness or doubt. There are no ifs, buts or maybes about it. God makes definite promises, not wishy-washy insinuations on which he may choose to backtrack on a whim. The only uncertainty when it comes to faith is whether the individual chooses to accept the Truth that is exposed in Scripture.
Here’s another example of Fr. Gravel’s sheer ignorance of Scripture. One of our readers kindly forwarded to me an email exchange he had with Fr. Gravel. The priest kept arguing that Christ never condemned anybody in the Gospels. Although the reader presented examples of how Christ condemned the scribes and Pharisees, Fr. Gravel didn’t seem to understand. The reader then proceed to explain how, for example, St. Paul spends a lot of time in his epistles condemning errors and false teachings in which his communities had fallen. This is the reply from Fr. Gravel:
Mr. FG, once again, you can’t read… I said that Christ never condemned anybody… You tell me the opposite and to justify yourself you quote St. Paul… Since when did St. Paul become Christ? I respect the Apostle Paul just as I respect all the others, but I’m talking about the gospels and in the gospels, Christ never condemned anybody.
Original in French:
Monsieur FG, Encore une fois, vous ne savez pas lire… J’ai dit que le Christ n’a jamais condamné… Vous me dites le contraire et pour vous justifier, vous citez saint Paul… Depuis quand saint Paul est-il le Christ ? Je respecte l’apôtre Paul comme je respecte tous les autres, mais je vous parle des évangiles, et dans les évangiles, le Christ ne condamne personne.
So is the New Testament only composed of the four gospels? Are the other books of the New Testament not Divine Revelation? Are St. Paul and Jesus not on the same wave length? This is preposterous.
[Note: the dots (…) that appear frequently in the quote above reflect exactly the way Fr. Gravel wrote the email. He inserted those dots. No text has been deleted on my part to shorten the quote. That’s just his style.]
Sadly, this is just another example of Fr. Gravel’s confusion. Please pray for him and for his bishop.
Also, please write a quick email to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to express your concerns: firstname.lastname@example.org