Henry Refuses to Be Silenced
Calgary bishop under fire for letter on gay marriage
Catholic Reporter, January 19, 2005
By Ramon Gonzalez, WCR Staff Writer
Calgary—Despite a national furor
over his recent pastoral letter, Bishop Fred Henry will continue his fight
against same-sex marriage unbowed.
The outspoken bishop has received hundreds of letters in
the last week, including hate mail, filled with accusations and vulgarity.
“I would say probably the letters are running eight to
one in favour of what I’m saying,” he said in a Jan. 19 interview.
“However those in the minority or dissenting camp are sometimes mean and
vulgar and attempt to try and demonize me in order to kind of silence me.”
Henry’s letter on same-sex marriage was published in
the Jan. 17 WCR and read in churches in the
Calgary Diocese Jan. 16.
It ignited a storm of controversy across Canada for
linking homosexuality with adultery, prostitution and pornography and saying
the state should use its “coercive power” to curtail those practices.
One scathing editorial in The Globe and Mail called
Henry’s views “odious” and “noxious,” and the bishop himself “a
source of scandal and embarrassment.”
But while Henry said he hopes the publicity brings about
wider discussion of the issue, he won’t budge in his views.
“I’m not going to change one iota,” he said. “I
probably would have expanded upon one paragraph in my letter a little bit more
because obviously some people misunderstood that, but by and large I stand by
the letter. I’m not apologizing for it and I am not going to change it.”
Comments that his letter borders on hate and that he
might face a hate crimes charge are incomprehensible, Henry said.
“There is nothing in what I have said that is hateful.
I’m simply teaching the faith of the Catholic Church.” He invited his
critics to check the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the issue.
“That’s just an attempt to demonize me and to silence
me and all the threats in the world are not going to do that.”
Henry says the role of the government is to uphold
morality and calls on it to suppress homosexuality and other behaviours deemed
to hurt the family.
“There is no question that homosexual people must be
treated with respect, with compassion and sensitivity and unjust
discrimination should be avoided at all costs. But nonetheless there is the
truth that homosexual acts are acts of great depravity and we would be doing
violence to people if we hid the truth from them,” he said.
The state should treat homosexuality the same way it
treats pornography, where the government has decided not everything is
permissible, he said. “The state has, by its laws, built boundaries and
fences around the whole issue of pornography and says you can’t go there,
you can’t do that, that’s going too far.
“The question of homosexuality is similar. Because of
the importance of the family, the state has an obligation not to cave in to do
everything that the homosexual community would want it to do.
“Fundamentally what the government has to do is uphold
public morality and it shouldn’t be bashful in terms of doing so.”
Henry repeated his assertion that same-sex “marriage”
is simply not marriage.
“(Gay) marriage is not a physical union that transmits
human life; it doesn’t produce children; it’s not the joining of two
complementary natures; so by definition you cannot have a same-sex marriage.
“It just isn’t marriage and I don’t care how you
sugarcoat it. You can call it whatever you want but it is not really
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