Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 11, 2005
Bishop faces rights lawsuit
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
The Bishop of Calgary says if human rights complaints filed against him are successful, he will be unable to publicly profess the teachings of the Catholic Church.
"The Alberta human rights legislation must be interpreted in a way to uphold freedom of religion and freedom of speech," Calgary Bishop Fred Henry wrote in a March 30 media handout. "Otherwise, the state could dictate what Roman Catholics can and cannot say and can limit Catholics from speaking out on any issue."
Henry faces two separate human rights complaints filed after he wrote a January letter to Catholics in his diocese. The letter was published in the Jan. 17 WCR and also posted on Henry's diocesan website.
Carol Johnson complained
Carol Johnson of Calgary complained to the Alberta human rights commission about three statements within Henry's letter that she found "discriminatory" and "likely to expose homosexuality to hatred or contempt."
Johnson objected to Henry's writing "The goal (of seeking same-sex 'marriage') is to acquire a powerful psychological weapon to change society's reception of homosexual activity and lifestyle into gradual, even if reluctant, acceptance" and to his stating, "An evil act remains an evil act."
She also zeroed in on a paragraph that had drawn a flurry of negative media when Henry's letter first became public.
"Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the state must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good," Henry had written.
While Henry admitted at the time that he might have chosen his words a little more carefully, he refused to apologize.
At a recent news conference, he said: "I think I'm owed an apology for putting me through this rigmarole of harassment and intimidation and attempt to silence me."
Norman Greenfield, who filed the second complaint, told the Calgary Herald: "I'm offended someone in his power would take the intolerant view to incite our politicians to go after a group of people he just doesn't agree with. My Bible says I'm not supposed to hate people." Greenfield is a member of the United Church.
Henry denies that he hates homosexuals, or that the Catholic Church discriminates against them even if the Church teaches that only those in a heterosexual marriage may engage in sex.
He said he was disappointed the case did not get dismissed, but he plans to fight it to the end. "My time is pretty valuable and I'm not going through a Mickey Mouse procedure with no hope of success."
Letter to the Editor - 05/09/05
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