Canadian politician Raymond Gravel buckled under papal pressure this week.
Gravel, a former gay prostitute who became a Catholic priest, ignored the Vatican’s urgings ran for public office back in 2006. He pledged not to vote for bills that go against church teachings, but this year came out against a bill pro-choice advocates said could lead to the recriminalization of abortion.
Outraged by Gravel’s self-determination, anti-abortion activists complained to the Vatican, which apparently asked Gravel to give up his parliamentary position:
[Gravel] revealed he won’t be running in the election expected this fall after a complaint from anti-abortion advocates led the Vatican to force him to choose between politics and the priesthood. Gravel said he has chosen to remain a Catholic priest rather than be defrocked.
Among those who complained to the Vatican was the Campaign Life Coalition, an anti-abortion group which supports Epp’s bill.
In its February 2008 newsletter, the group singled out Gravel’s comments about Epp’s bill as being “the worst” and took exception to Gravel calling them a “fairly extremist and fanatical group.”
Gravel insists he doesn’t support abortion, but had severe problems with the proposed bill’s language and potential side effects.