Calgary Bishop Fred Henry unrepentant over transgender 'totalitarian' comments
Outspoken Catholic leader doubles down on criticism of 'anti-Catholic' Alberta Education gender guidelines
Far from apologizing, as some critics had called on him to do, Calgary Bishop Fred Henry is doubling down on his earlier missive that described Alberta's new school gender guidelines as "anti-Catholic" and a form of "totalitarianism."
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In a new online message titled "Totalitarianism in Alberta - Part II," Henry says he has no regrets for his criticism of the provincial government's new policy recommendations aimed at accommodating transgender students in Alberta schools.
"If you are reading this piece in the hopes of discovering an apology and/or a retraction, you might as well stop reading right now," Henry writes. "That's simply not going to happen."
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The bishop goes on to further criticize the province's policy guidelines, which aim to erase traditional male-female divides and allow students to define their own gender expression in school, including a choice of washrooms, change rooms and even the pronouns by which teachers address them.
Henry also dismisses arguments that his traditional position is at odds with the Catholic Church's relatively new direction under Pope Francis.
The Bishop cites an April 15, 2015 address in which Pope Francis describes the modern "removal of difference" between male and female as "an expression of frustration and resignation, which seeks to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it."
Judge, or judge not?
Pace Anhorn, director of Young Queer Church in Calgary, was among those who spoke out in response to Henry's initial missive, saying some of the words were "a bit shocking" but adding the bishop is entitled to his opinion.
"To me, I see this just as an older man that has a theological lens and believes wholeheartedly within his heart that that's how he should live," Anhorn told CBC Calgary.
"I don't judge that, because that's the lens which he sees it through," Anhorn said.
"However, it also breaks my heart that we've got somebody that is a bishop, that is a leader within this faith community, that has not seen the broader scope of the beauty and the diversity of God's creation."
In his second message, Henry said he has "received considerable support" for what he said in his first message and dismisses "nay-sayers" who question his authority to judge other people.
The bishop writes that the Bible does not forbid the judgment of others but merely prescribes that judgment be made from a "good heart free from hypocrisy, arrogance, meanness of spirit, or hate."
"Only God can judge the state of the human soul but it is pure nonsense to suggest we cannot and should not judge human behaviour," Henry writes.