Raymond Gravel: Former Sex Worker, Politician – Gay Priest.

Sometimes I hunt down information, sometimes it finds me. I have been looking up information for a forthcoming post on openly gay or lesbian politicians of ministerial rank – and came across this piece on a politician who is also relevant to another of my interests – gay priests !

For now, I post without further comment the entry from Wikipedia:

Raymond Gravel (born 1952 in Saint-Damien-de-Brandon, Quebec) is a priest and politician from the Canadian province of Quebec, who was formerly the Member of Parliament for the riding of Repentigny, as a member of the Bloc Québécois. He was elected to the House of Commons in a November 27, 2006 by-election following the death of Benoît Sauvageau.

Gravel had an eventful youth during which he worked in bars in Montreal’s Gay Village; he has been open about the fact that he was a sex-trade worker during that time.[1] He entered the seminary in 1982 and became a priest. Gravel is controversial among the Catholic clergy and laity for his support of abortion and same-sex marriage — two issues officially opposed by the Church. He is currently the priest at St-Joachim de la Plaine Church in La Plaine, Quebec.

He was acclaimed as the Bloc’s candidate on October 29, 2006. He received a dispensation from Gilles Lussier, bishop of Joliette, to enter politics. Elected with a large majority in the Bloc stronghold, he became the Bloc critic for seniors’ issues.

However, following his opposition to Bill C-484, which would have recognized injury of a fetus during a crime as a separate offence from an injury to the mother, and his support for Dr. Henry Morgentaler receiving the Order of Canada, Gravel was ordered by the Vatican to either give up the priesthood or leave politics, and he finally announced he would not run in the 40th Canadian federal election, saying that the priesthood was his life.[2] He cited as his biggest regret his inability to pass hisprivate member’s bill C-490, which aimed to improve seniors’ access to guaranteed income supplements.[3]

“Shock” in Rome: Priests at Gay Sex Clubs !

In Rome, an undercover journalist from the Panorama news magazine has filmed three priests in gay sex clubs – and having sex.   Assisted by a gay “accomplice”, the journalist monitored the three men for almost twenty days, accompanying them to “sex clubs”, restaurants and private parties, where there was dancing with naked men. The accomplice is said to have gone home with one of the priests, and had sex with him. Film footage, the magazine has promised, will be placed on the net from tomorrow – including footage of a Mass celebrated by one of them, to confirm that they are indeed genuine priests. The intention, you will be relived to learn, is not to shock or cause scandal, but only to illustrate the double life some priests lead.

It really had to happen.  The only surprise here is that it has taken so long for the tabloid press to do something like this. Read the rest of this entry »

Episcopal Pornography: Seminary Screening for Gay Candidate Priests

The procedures being used to screen seminary candidates for emotional and sexual maturity are, if the New York Times is to be believed, obscene. I mean that literally.

When I first read the article, I was simply revolted. My earlier understanding was that the appalling instruction of 2005 restricting the recruitment of gay seminarians had been largely softened in the later instruction issued in 2008, as carefully and clearly described by James Alison. To find that recruitment interviews remain obsessed with sex, and particularly with same sex attraction, was yet another indictment of the institutional Church’s lamentable inability to come to terms with a fundamental part of what it is to be human.  Then I recalled something I read last week in Mark Jordan’s “The Silence of Sodom: Homosexuality in Modern Catholicism“.

The context was Jordan’s analysis of the Vatican’s rhetorical style in its pronouncements on homosexuality, a style which Jordan says is characterised by repetition, flattening, threatening and certainty, rather than reasoning.  This is what he says about the extraordinary repetitions in Vatican discourse :

There certainly seems to be room for some contemporary satire, if only we had another Pascal. For example, the obsessive repetitions and flattenings of the official documents might seem to indicate that they are themselves a form of sexual gratification. They describe sexual acts and organs in ways that typify pornography made for men. Read the rest of this entry »