August 15, 2014 10:26 pm

Raymond Gravel, unorthodox priest, politician and social activist, dies

WATCH ABOVE: Hundreds pay their respects to Father Raymond Gravel in Joliette

MONTREAL — An unorthodox and beloved figure from the Quebec and Canadian political landscape has died.

Raymond Gravel, a Catholic priest, former Bloc Québécois MP and social activist, died on Monday of lung cancer. He was being cared for in the palliative care centre at the Lanaudiere Hospital in St. Charles de Borromée, Que.

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Well-known in the province as an advocate for Quebec sovereignty and women’s rights, his support for access to abortion and gay marriage occasionally brought him in conflict with the Catholic Church.

Visitation for Father Gravel is on Thursday and Friday at the Saint-Charles-Borromée Cathedral in Joliette, with funeral services scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Many prominent Quebecers have taken to social media to express their thoughts, sharing posts on Gravel’s Facebook page and tweeting their condolences.

Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, tweeted: “Laureen and I offer our condolences to the family of Raymond Gravel. Raymond was a former colleague of mine from the HoC and will be missed.”

The leader of Canada’s official opposition party, Thomas Mulcair, noted on Twitter that Gravel was “a man of principles and of action.”

Quebec’s premier, Philippe Couillard, tweeted: “My condolences to the family and loved ones of Father Raymond Gravel. A man of conviction who marked the lives of thousands of Quebecers.”

The leader of Quebec’s opposition party, François Legault called Gravel’s passing the “death of a great humanist.”

Montreal’s mayor Denis Coderre noted on Twitter that Gravel was an “inspiring human being,” and thanked him for his invaluable counsel and his contribution to the betterment of society.

The Montreal Fire Department also tweeted its condolences, noting that Gravel was a “noble-hearted man, devoted and appreciated by all.”

© Shaw Media, 2014

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