Fr. Gravel’s distortions: women in the priesthood

One of the numerous areas where Fr. Raymond Gravel openly dissents on Church teaching concerns the ordination of women.  His homily from July 18, 2010,  alludes to it in a gentle but unmistakable manner.  Let’s look at a key excerpt from the homily, which was based on Luke 10:38-42 (Jesus visits the home of Martha and Mary).  Fr. Gravel writes:

This means that for Luke, responsibilities in the Church are not only reserved for men, but women also participate actively in them.  The exegete Benoît Gschwind, in his commentary on today’s gospel, writes : « this episode reflects the feminism of Luke that continues to call the Church: the woman can not be relegated to subordinate tasks; she is not a second class disciple; by right, if she is a servant, it first and foremost of the Word. »

2. A catechesis on the Eucharist : In this account of Luke, we clearly have a catechesis on the Eucharist: the 2 tables are present: the table of the Word and that of the Eucharist. And it is 2 women that preside at these two tables: Mary and Martha. And, in his teaching, Saint Luke specifies that listening to the Word comes first; it must precede the Eucharist. Unfortunately, the French translation is bad; it yields a comparison between the two tables: « Mary has chosen the better part » (Lk 10,42b); it should rather be: « Mary chose the good part », not because Martha’s service is less good; but it is not a priority.

Note: My translation.  Original French is here.

Fr. Gravel has some strange notions about the Eucharist.  As discussed in an earlier post, he’s wrong on many aspects of Church teaching on the Eucharist.  But he also sees the Eucharist in all the wrong places in the gospels.  For example, he considers the multiplication of the loaves and the fish to be a Eucharistic celebration.  In the excerpt above, the dinner at Martha and Mary’s house is also somehow connected to the Eucharist and forms the basis for some strange interpretations.

First, he sees Mary and Martha as “presiding” over the table of the Word and the table of the Eucharist, respectively.  As many Catholics know, he’s referring to the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which form the core of the Mass.  A Mass can only be “presided” by a duly ordained priest.  By saying that Mary and Martha can preside over these liturgies, he is saying that they could be priests.  His preceding quote of Benoit Gschwind about the “feminism of Luke” and the equality of women reinforces this point.  In sum, Fr. Gravel’s view seems to be that men and women are fully interchangeable in all respects within the Church.

It is true that women are extremely important in the Church.  In fact, they’re indispensable and irreplaceable.  They are not inferior to men in any way.  Not. One. Bit.  But men and women aren’t identical either.  Men and women are different physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.  God has decreed different roles for men and women in the Church.  For 2,000 years, the Church has always maintained that the ministerial priesthood was a role for men.  In light of recent controversies, Pope John Paul II made a solemn and infallible declaration on this matter in his encyclical Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.  The matter is not open for debate.

But Fr. Gravel doesn’t have a high esteem of the Magisterium or of arcane notions such as Truth and Divine Revelation, as we saw in an earlier post.  So why not make up his own theories on women in the priesthood based on a horrible twisting of a gospel passage?

Please pray for Fr. Gravel and his bishop.  Send your complaints to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at

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