Skip to content

Quebec Priest sues LifeSiteNews for Defamation

The #1 Catholic Online School
FREE Catholic Classes

By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News
2/16/2011 (7 years ago)
The B.C. Catholic Newspaper (

Father Raymond Gravel's lawsuit could shut down website?

Father Raymond Gravel, a Quebec Catholic priest who served as a Bloc Quebecois MP from 2006-8, is suing (LSN) for defamation. "We've been online since 1997, but this could indeed shut us down," said LSN editor John-Henry Westen.

Father Raymond Gravel, a Quebec Catholic priest who served as a Bloc Quebecois MP from 2006-8

Father Raymond Gravel, a Quebec Catholic priest who served as a Bloc Quebecois MP from 2006-8


By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News
The B.C. Catholic Newspaper (
2/16/2011 (7 years ago)

Published in Americas

Keywords: LifeSite News, Canada, Pro-Life, abortion, Father Raymond Gravel, lawsuit, defamation

P>OTTAWA, Canada (BC Catholic) - Father Raymond Gravel, a Quebec Catholic priest who served as a Bloc Quebecois MP from 2006-8, is suing (LSN) for defamation.

"We've been online since 1997, but this could indeed shut us down," said LSN editor John-Henry Westen.

Father Gravel, who is incardinated in the Diocese of Joliette, is seeking $300,000 for the attack on his reputation and consequent pain and suffering, and another $200,000 in punitive damages for what he calls a voluntary, intentional and malicious attack.

"I am against abortion but says always I am for abortion," Father Gravel said. "The LifeSiteNews presents me, a priest, as pro-abortion.

Father Gravel added he does not think the best method to combat abortion is through the Criminal Law, but through education, and teaching young people to be responsible about sexuality.

"I am not pro-abortion," he said. "I am against abortion." He noted that he did research on countries where abortion is forbidden and said some 70,000 women died of illegal abortions. "It is horrible."

"We must work with women, not against women," he said.

He said he agreed with the Church's position that life begins at conception. "The church also takes a pastoral approach," he said. "We as priests accompany the people."

Father Gravel also said he blamed LSN for his having to give up his job representing the Repentigny riding in the House of Commons.

"I was a member of Parliament," he said. "I had to abandon this because of what they wrote."

Westen said he has no idea what role LSN articles played, except for information the priest gave the media that the Vatican dossier shown to his bishop was full of LSN articles. Westen said any coverage of Father Gravel has been truthful, relying on the priests' own public commentary in newspapers, in his homilies and on television.

Westen and other LSN employees received notification of the lawsuit during the Christmas Octave.

"Our yearly budget is $500,000,"he said, adding he could not minimize the gravity of the lawsuit. "We are a pretty small operation and most of us are in it for the love of faith, life and family."

LSN did not meet its last quarterly fundraising goal and has already had to shell out $6,000 so far to defend itself, he said. Costs will skyrocket when it goes to court.

"We're planning to fight it, in the interests of truth and for the good of the Church and indeed for Father Gravel's own good," Westen said.

In a 31-page statement filed with the Quebec Superior Court in Joliette, Father Gravel asserts that he has been a Catholic priest for 25 years and has always been faithful to the magisterium of the Church.

He also said he has from time to time expressed personal opinions on controversial topics, including homosexuality, abortion, secularism and religious education in the schools.

In the statement, Father Gravel contends in his statement that the smear campaign against him began in 2003 when he wrote an open letter criticizing a Vatican document that said respect for homosexual persons cannot lead to approval of homosexual behavior or legal recognition of homosexual union. Father Gravel disagreed, saying the position of the Church is discriminatory and hurtful.

But Westen said their coverage has not been malicious.

"As we've said on the website, we bear no hatred or ill will towards Father Gravel," said Westen. "We're concerned for him in that he is a Catholic priest and should be upholding the teachings of the Church and yet he has fought against Cardinal Ouellet and the Vatican on issues of the right to life and homosexuality."

Westen defended the use of the term "pro-abortion" to describe politicians and others who say they are personally opposed to abortion but support legislation to make or keep it legal.

"For the Church and the prolife movement, abortion is murder and so to say we are pro-choice with regard to abortion, is the same as saying you are pro-choice in regard to something like rape," he said. "Imagine if someone said 'I am personally opposed to rape, I would never do it myself, but people should have that choice.' Most people would not say this person was pro-choice but pro-rape."

Westen pointed out that while Fathrt Gravel said in his lawsuit that recriminalization is not desirable, his views are at odds with the teaching of the Catholic Church. He stressed the Catechism says, "Life must be protected with utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes." He also cited the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's instruction Donum Vitae that calls for "penal sanctions" for any violation of an unborn child's rights.

Gravel said he had informed his bishop about the lawsuit but that he was acting on his own. Joliette Bishop Gilles Lussier was away and a spokesman said the diocese had no comment.


This article appeared in The B.C. Catholic, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Vancouver and is used with permission.


More Americas

New group formed to oppose abortion in Mexico Watch

Image of

The new umbrella group Suma de Actores Sociales (United Social Actors) is calling citizens to stand up against efforts by president-elect ... continue reading

Fallece obispo de Mexico tras larga enfermedad Watch

Image of

El Obispo de Gomez Palacio (Mexico), Mons. Jose Fortunato Alvarez Valdez, fallecio en la madrugada del 7 de noviembre, tras una larga ... continue reading

Dictan orden de captura contra presunto asesino de San Romero Watch

Image of

El Juzgado Cuarto de Instruccion de San Salvador (El Salvador) dicto una orden de captura contra el sospechoso de haber asesinado el 24 de ... continue reading

Guard slain outside Mexican cardinal's home Watch

Image of

An auxiliary policeman was shot and killed Sunday defending the home of Cardinal Norberto Rivera, the retired Archbishop of Mexico City. ... continue reading

Legal pot will have 'disastrous effects,' Canadian bishops say Watch

Image of

Canada's bishops reiterated their opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana Wednesday, the same day that legal marijuana ... continue reading

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.