By John-Henry Westen

Bishop Fred HenryCALGARY, October 26, 2006 ( – Calgary Bishop Fred Henry is known as the most outspoken bishop in Canada. He is accessible to the media and unafraid to speak freely and with candor even on the tough, politically incorrect topics of the day such as homosexuality, abortion and why Catholic politicians that support these should be denied communion. spoke with Bishop Henry about these issues and why he is not afraid of speaking out.

Asked about the discussion at the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Plenary Session on Catholic politicians who defy the Church on matters of faith and morals, Bishop Henry said it was a “first attempt to try to address a very difficult question.”

Bishop Henry explained the problem of having pro-abortion or pro-same-sex-marriage politicians is exacerbated when they “at the same time present themselves to people as so called Catholics who are walking a different line and yet supposedly sharing our values but not demonstrating very much by way of virtue.”

Taking action on such politicians by denying them communion or speaking out publicly against them is a way of avoiding the scandal of the public believing such behavior is tolerable suggested the bishop.“Because of the scandal factor that is involved and because it does cause a kind of erosion of adherence to Catholic teaching, and because you can suggest by non activity that ‘well I guess this is ok or there is not much I can do about it’, some of us have been very vocal in trying to bring people to account,” said Bishop Henry.

Although, said the Calgary bishop, “you don’t want to make the liturgy a war zone, where you fight out your political values,” you must address the situation.“You appeal to people to take the higher ground, and if they’ve already separated themselves from the church our appeal is ‘don’t make it worse, don’t make a mockery of our understanding, please don’t offend us by presenting yourself for communion when you are not one with the body of Christ.’”

Bishop Henry concludes on the point: “But if it comes down to it, if such a person would present himself in my cathedral I would give them a blessing rather than give them the Eucharist.” asked Bishop Henry about the effect the same-sex marriage law will have on Catholic education. Bishop Henry pointed to the province of British Columbia where the school system has arranged with homosexual activists to incorporate into the curriculum ‘gay-positive’ education, without the opportunity of parents to opt their children out of such classes.

“When people say they sky is not falling with the passage of (the same-sex ‘marriage’ bill),” said the bishop, we tell them to “watch what’s going on in BC right now, and look at the travesty that is unfolding in front of us with the denial of parental rights with respect to the education of their children and a forced curriculum.” It is, he said, “A specialized ideological agenda that is being rammed down our throats.”

Asked why he is not afraid to say such things in Canada where many voices have been cowed into silence, Bishop Henry replied, “Well I guess it’s because I read the last chapter of the book and we win in the end.” He added, “I mean if you really believe that the Spirit of God is with you, what have you got to fear?”
“The challenge for any believer is to get out of the upper room,” he said.“The apostles were locked up there after the resurrection, and the biggest challenge was that the lock was on the inside of the door. They had to get out of that upper room onto the streets of Jerusalem and talk about faith and the good news of salvation, and I suppose in some way for all of us it’s still the same story. If we really believe in our baptism we’ve got to be courageous people, the Spirit of God is with us.