Catholic Priest Sues Pro-life News Site for Defamation

Canadian Catholic priest, Father Raymond Gravel, has filed a lawsuit against a pro-life news service for presenting him as "pro-abortion."

"I am against abortion but says always I am for abortion," said Gravel, according to The B.C. Catholic Newspaper.

He is seeking $500,000 in damages for what he calls a "voluntary, intentional and malicious attack" on his reputation, consequently causing him pain and suffering.

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However, LSN founders John-Henry Westen and Steve Jalsevac have rejected these claims, insisting the news provider only "reported on what Fr. Gravel himself has publicly said" in commentaries, homilies and on television.

"He has launched a suit that could severely, even permanently disrupt our life- and culture-saving work," the non-profit organization posted on its website Wednesday. "He's demanding $500,000 in damages – which, coincidentally, is a full year's budget for us."

Westen and Jalsevac also noted that the lawsuit "comes at the same time that attacks on the free speech rights of pro-life, pro-family and Christian citizens and media have been increasing all across the West."

Gravel, a former member of the Canadian Parliament, is a controversial figure among the Catholic clergy and laity, having openly criticized his church's stance on abortion and homosexuality on multiple occasions.

He was quoted as saying "I am pro-choice and there is not a bishop on earth that will prevent me from receiving Communion, not even the Pope" during a radio interview in 2004.

In 2010 Gravel was removed from the position of chief catechist in the Quebec Diocese of Joliette. In his statement filed with the Quebec Superior Court in Joliette, Gravel suggests what LSN had written caused him to lose this responsibility.

He also blamed the site after the Vatican forced him to choose between the Church and public office.

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

Westen has defended the use of the term "pro-abortion" to describe politicians claiming to be personally opposed to abortion, but support its legality.

"For the Church and the pro-life 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 explained. "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."

Chicago-based law firm, the Thomas More Society, has offered to support LSN. However, with mounting legal fees they have also requested support from their faithful readers via the website, writing "the only way we can withstand this attack is with your help."

"We are confident about the truthfulness and professionalism of our reporting on this matter and are determined to fight and win against this unjust lawsuit," LSN added.

The preliminary hearing for the case is set to take place Thursday at Joliette, Quebec.

LSN is a free internet service dedicated to providing accurate and balanced coverage on culture, life and family matters.

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