Calgary’s Roman Catholic Bishop Fred Henry and his counterpart in Edmonton, Archbishop Richard Smith, have added their voices to the ongoing debate over a controversial bill addressing the formation of, and requirement for, inclusive LGBTQ friendly support clubs in Alberta’s schools.
Bishop Henry and Archbishop Smith addressed members of Alberta’s Catholic community in letters distributed at churches in Calgary and Edmonton on Sunday.
In his letter, Bishop Henry states the views of the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association, the Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta and Alberta Bishops have been misrepresented.
“In my opinion, Bill 10 was a win-win for everyone,” said Bishop Henry in his letter. “It enshrined parental rights, recognized the autonomy of local school boards, and student rights re diversity clubs without mandating Gay Straight Alliances.”
Henry believes student bullying needs to be addressed in Alberta’s schools but the mandating of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA), which infringes on personal freedoms, is not the solution.
The Bishop of Calgary adds “The Catechism of the Catholic church affirms that persons with same sex attractions ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity’.”
Bishop Henry’s pastoral letter regarding Bill 10 is available on the Catholic Diocese of Calgary website
On December 4, Premier Prentice announced Bill 10 would be shelved to allow for further consultation. The decision was made following outcry from the bill’s opponents who challenged the fact students who were denied access to GSAs would need to challenge their school board in Alberta’s court system.