.- The human rights complaints filed against Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary strike “at the core of freedom of speech and freedom of religion guaranteed to all Canadians,” said Catholic Civil Rights League president Phil Horgan. Two citizens lodged complaints against the bishop after he published a pastoral letter against same-sex marriage.
“Bishop Henry's remarks were completely consistent with a Church leader fulfilling his teaching function,” said Horgan. “Homosexual practices, adultery, prostitution, and pornography are all sinful acts in the teachings of the Church.
“It has always been recognized that with all serious sins, the state has a responsibility in exercising its authority to promote the common good whether through the Criminal Code, tax policy, education standards or the other broad areas of its jurisdiction,” the president of the Toronto-based group continued. “Bishop Henry raises legitimate questions of what impact current policies will have on the understanding of the family.
Horgan noted that Bishop Henry has himself “been the subject of the state's coercive power.” Last year, a Canada Customs and Revenue Agency official threatened to challenge the charitable status of the diocese after the bishop publicly stated that Prime Minister Paul Martin’s actions are incoherent with the Catholic faith he claims to follow.
Horgan also pointed out the numerous attacks against the Catholic Church and individual Church leaders in the publications and Web sites of many Canadian gay-advocacy groups. These publications, says Horgan, have characterized Church leaders as bigots and have described Catholicism as a "vile religion" which should be "purged."
“The Church has for millenia been the subject of attack, and it will no doubt continue,” said Horgan, adding that he hopes the Alberta Human Rights Commission “will not allow itself to be exploited by opponents of the Church to trample on religious freedoms.
“It's time all persons attempting to debate this important social question learn to respect freedoms of conscience, religion and speech,” he said.