Editor John-Henry Westen says LifeSiteNews' existence threatened by lawsuit.

Fr. Raymond Gravel, a priest in the Roman Catholic diocese of Joliette, Que., has sued LifeSiteNews for $500,000, claiming that the pro-life internet news provider damaged his reputation and career as a priest by reporting on his public stances on abortion and gay rights.

Fr. Gravel represented the Repentigny riding from 2006-2008, and as an Blocc Quebecois MP he defended abortionist Henry Morgentaler receiving the Order of Canada, voted against a private member’s bill that would have protected the unborn victims of crime, and abstained from the motion to re-open the same-sex “marriage” issue. LifeSiteNews reported on these and other instances when the priest spoke or acted in opposition to Catholic moral teaching.

LifeSiteNews is not the only media outlet to call attention to the priest-politician’s unorthodox views and actions. In 2006, Catholic Insight reported “Fr. Gravel has been denouncing the Church’s moral teaching for years, including the Church’s rejection of abortion, homosexual activity, and same-sex ‘marriage’.” When reporting on the lawsuit against LSN last month, the Ottawa Sun reported Fr. Gravel “once worked in Montreal’s gay leather bars and as a male prostitute before becoming a priest.”

In 2008, Fr. Gravel declined to run for re-election. According to the statement filed by Gravel, LSN stories depicting him as pro-abortion and pro-gay rights which led to an ultimatum from his ecclesiastical authority to choose between being a priest or remaining an elected official.

Gravel told QMI Agency (the Sun chain) that he is pro-life and believes that life begins at conception and thus LSN misrepresented his views. He also objects to the term pro-abortion.

In his suit, Gravel claims LSN stories resulted on pressure being put on him to leave politics in 2008 and later in the loss of a position teaching Catholic doctrine in the Diocese of Joliette.

The suit seeks $300,000 for “unlawful attack upon his dignity, honour and reputation, pain and suffering,” and $200,000 in punitive damages.

On their webpage, LSN says that the lawsuit could close down the pro-life news provider, noting that the half-million in damages Fr. Gravel is seeking is equal to their yearly budget. John-Henry Westen, editor-in-chief of LSN, told The Interim that they are soliciting donations for their legal defense, which could cost $100,000. He said, “the court costs alone could shut us down.”

Westen said that his initial reaction when they were made aware of the possible suit in late 2010 was that Fr. Gravel was merely threatening LifeSiteNews, “meant only to try to intimidate us into silence.” But by mid-February LifeSite`s lawyer, Jean-Yves Cote was filing motions to have the case moved from Joliett to Montreal.

Westen stated that “we are going to defend ourselves vigorously and are confident of success at the end of the day.”