Civil Liberties Group Backs Catholic Bishop Under Fire for Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality

CALGARY, July 25, 2005 ( - It has been said that the right to freedom of expression is the right to give offense. This axiom of political philosophy is being tested in Alberta. Bishop Fred Henry, prior to the first “Conciliation Session” of his Human Rights Tribunal case, in which he is being accused of ‘discrimination’ for having publicly asserted Catholic doctrine on homosexuality, has been defended from a most unlikely source.

The president of the Alberta Civil Liberties Association, Stephen Jenuth, says the case is an example of conflicting rights. He told the Calgary Sun, “We have a situation where there are two rights: One is to be free of discrimination, the other is freedom of religion.” Jenuth said that the most likely outcome of the conciliation session would be for the two sides to “agree to disagree.”

“I’m not sure Bishop Henry is even discriminating,” said Jenuth. “He is essentially stating what his religious beliefs are, and in a free society, he should be able to.”

Jenuth continued, “He is giving his viewpoint in a respectful manner and that strikes me as something we should be able to accept in society.”

The Catholic Church is not the only religious group that is closely watching the outcome of the Human Rights complaint against Henry. In April, Moshe Saks, rabbi of Beth Tzedec Conservative congregation, told the Calgary Herald, “I think it’s an attack on religion. In its own way, it’s a hate crime.”

Bishop Henry has repeatedly confirmed his position in newspapers and on radio saying that he stands by his statements.

Since the passage of legislation that equates homosexual partnerings with normal marriage, and of C-250, the bill including “sexual orientation” in the hate crimes legislation, religious leaders have been warning of the consequences of outlawing the voicing of any opposition to homosexuality. Even the usually tranquil Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops warned in a letter to the Senate that they feared a new era of civil persecution against Christians and others who oppose the homosexual juggernaut.

Read related coverage:
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Pastoral Letter of Calgary Bishop Fred Henry


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