Fr. Raymond Gravel

Fr. Raymond Gravel

August 25, 2014

Father Raymond Gravel, an outspoken social activist and advocate for Quebec independence, died of lung cancer Aug. 11. He was 61.

Gravel was well known for publicly questioning Church teachings on homosexuality, abortion and the role of women in the Church.

"Raymond said out loud the things that many Quebecers thought but didn't dare express," said Radio Canada journalist Alain Crevier, a longtime friend.

The Montreal city flag was flown at half-mast the evening of Aug. 11 in Gravel's honour.


The city's mayor, Denis Coderre, called the priest "an inspiring human being, with great dignity."

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard described Gravel as "a man of conviction who has left his mark on thousands of Quebecers."

Born in rural Quebec in 1952, the young Raymond Gravel ran into drugs and prostitution in the bars of Montreal's Gay Village.

He later turned away from his past and was ordained a priest in 1986.

An outspoken supporter of gay and women's rights, he made it a part of his ministry to celebrate Mass at St. Peter the Apostle Church, where members of Montreal's gay and lesbian community worshipped.

A strong believer in Quebec's independence, Gravel ran for the federal separatist Bloc Quebecois with the permission of his bishop and was elected to the House of Commons in 2006.


He left politics in 2008 when Vatican authorities told him to choose between his priesthood or a political career.

After his cancer diagnosis, Gravel appeared on a Montreal talk show on which he said he found it comforting to know that an euthanasia bill was being debated by the Quebec Parliament.

The bill, which was strongly opposed by Quebec's bishops, became law June 5.