Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Catholic Bishop Resigns after Nearly Two Decades of Service in Calgary

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Catholic Bishop Resigns after Nearly Two Decades of Service in Calgary

Article excerpt

Pope accepts resignation of Calgary bishop


CALGARY - The Calgary bishop known for his hardline stances on protections for LGBTQ youth and the HPV vaccine says he is leaving the role he has held for almost two decades due to ailing health.

In his resignation letter to Pope Francis posted Wednesday on the Calgary Catholic Diocese website, Most Rev. Fred Henry said he has an incurable type of arthritis that is also an autoimmune disease.

A spokesman for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops says the church usually requires bishops to resign at 75.

Henry, who is 73, said he started writing the letter to the pontiff more than three years ago. He said when he was 35, he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, which has severely reduced mobility in his spine over time.

"I can no longer turn my head sideways but must turn the whole upper body to look left or right," Henry wrote.

"In addition, I can't really look up but have a permanent stoop and my feet are much more familiar to me than the sky."

He said the inflammation from the disease has also affected his eyes and lungs while his hearing has been diminished.

"My condition cannot be reversed. I have jokingly said that 'pain is my best friend, we are always together' but it is wearing me out and limiting my ministry," Henry wrote.

"I believe that someone younger with more energy, stamina and pastoral vision should take over the role of Ordinary for the Diocese of Calgary.

"The needs of this ever-expanding diocese are enormous. I have given it my best and I am past my 'best due date' -- it is time to retire."

The pontiff has appointed Most Rev. William Terrence McGrattan, bishop of the Peterborough, Ont., diocese, to succeed Henry.

McGrattan, who is 60 and a native of London, Ont., is to be installed in Calgary on Feb. 27.

Henry, who oversaw 67 parishes and missions with a Catholic population of more than 435,000, was one of three Catholic bishops to criticize the Alberta government last year over its plans to protect LGBTQ students in schools, particularly transgender children.

"Totalitarianism is alive and well in Alberta," Henry wrote in a public letter to his faithful last year. …

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