Grenada bishop suspends priest for Gaza remarks

Bishop Clyde Harvey of Grenada has suspended a Roman Catholic priest for persistent contentious remarks about the attack on Gaza and criticism of the church.

Bishop Clyde Harvey and Father Gerard Paul

Father Gerard Paul’s suspension, effective April 4, 2024, followed a public dispute with Bishop Harvey. The bishop emphasized adherence to Church rules and teachings, expressing concern that Father Paul’s unrepentant stance placed him beyond fraternal correction.

The controversy began on March 27, 2024, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and subsequent statements made by Father Paul on various media platforms in which he accused the church in Grenada for not condemning the situation in Gaza.

Father Paul said at a recent clergy retreat, the situation was not even mentioned or addressed.

“I call upon the Church today to get its freedom and to get its voice and speak up for justice,” the priest said, while calling the Gaza War a ‘wholesale slaughter’ of Palestinians and Muslims.

“We cannot rightly ever preach the Gospel if we do not stand for justice. It’s time the Catholic Church stands for justice. It’s time we hear the voices of the pastors of the church, we hear the voices of the priests of the church, we hear the voices of the bishops, we hear the voices of the archbishops, we hear the voice of the pope standing for justice. When you stand in silence, when you sit in silence, you are part of these injustice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,’ the Grenadian born Father Paul said.

After Bishop Harvey addressed a church service, he expressed hesitance in speaking out, emphasizing that the Eucharist is a unifying space, not one for division. He stressed the importance of standing up for justice while acknowledging that perspectives differ among individuals. He clarified that clergy members had indeed considered the situation in Gaza during a retreat, refuting claims to the contrary. He absolved Father Paul of responsibility for not being present throughout the entirety of the retreat.

Prior to the announcement of the priest’s suspension, Bishop Harvey issued a statement noting the offense and fear caused by Father Paul’s actions and words. He criticized Father Paul’s conduct as appearing more focused on self-promotion than on seeking justice, deeming it inappropriate for a priest.

A subsequent statement from the Diocese of George’s recognized that some individuals shared Father Paul’s viewpoint on Gaza but condemned his ongoing criticism of the Catholic Church and its leadership as both erroneous and divisive. The diocese cited a pattern of behavior beyond his remarks on March 27, characterized by attacks on the Church and dissemination of misleading information.

Despite calls for him to cease such behavior, Father Paul showed no inclination to do so, prompting the decision to suspend him. Bishop Harvey emphasized that such actions undermine the Church’s authority and mislead the faithful. The suspension was deemed necessary to address the harm caused to both the faithful and the diocese as a whole.