CALGARY, Alberta, January 27, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — In the face of calls for his resignation, name calling, and accusations of “judging” and of acting contrary to the “openness” of Pope Francis, Calgary Bishop Fred Henry is defending a pastoral letter he wrote last week critical of the Alberta Government’s gender guidelines for forming policy in schools, including Catholic ones.
“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. That's simply not going to happen,” he wrote near the opening of his letter released today.
Two weeks ago the NDP’s Education Minister David Eggen released some “best practices” guidelines that he expected all school boards in the province, including Catholic ones, to use in forming mandatory transgender policies that must be in place by March.
“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. That's simply not going to happen.”
The guidelines state that schools should no longer have a universal dress code for boys and girls because it might not respect a student's preferred “gender identity and gender expression.” Schools must also stop having gender-segregated activities for the same reason. The guidelines also state that “transgender” individuals must be able to join the team, and use the washroom and change room, of their choosing, whether it makes other people feel uncomfortable or not.
The guidelines state that a student’s own “self-identification” as either a boy or a girl, or neither, is the “sole measure of an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” And, in a move that critics say sabotages the parent/child bond, the guidelines go as far as to state that school administrators must obtain a student’s “explicit permission before disclosing information related to the student’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression” to his or her parents.
Answering the charge that his first letter opposed Pope Francis, Bishop Henry quoted passages from the pope’s recent encyclical Laudato Si', stating that, contrary to public perception, the pope “has said quite a bit about gender.”
He quoted paragraph 155 of the encyclical where the pope states that men and women must learn to “accept” their bodies as “God's gift” if there is going to be any “genuine human ecology.”
Bishop Henry also took to task those who accused him of “judging,” citing three scriptural passages where the sacred writers speak of judgement as a positive Christian duty.
“The principal purpose of a judgment is to help a brother or sister avoid debilitating actions and improve,” he wrote.
“The principal purpose of a judgment is to help a brother or sister avoid debilitating actions and improve.” – Bishop Henry.
“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. Reluctance to judge moral behaviour is the inevitable consequence of moral relativism and moral subjectivism that has eroded confidence in the ability to determine objective moral truth on which sound judgment is based,” he added.
Bishop Henry concluded his letter by quoting from a 2005 reflection by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who wrote that it is a “faith which is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ” that is able to “judge true from false, and deceit from truth.”
Send a note thanking Bishop Henry for his courage:
Calgary Bishop Fred Henry
Email: [email protected]
Ph: (403) 218-5500
Catholic Pastoral Centre
120 17 Ave SW
Calgary, Alberta T2S 2T2
Contact information to thank the rest of Alberta's bishops here.