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An Apology

January 16, 2016

I wish to apologize to all those who were offended by the inclusion of Bishop Henry’s letter in a communique sent to all ECSD parents on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016.  I need the public to know that I tried to discourage my fellow trustees from including his letter in a communication we were planning on sending out to our parents on Friday.  As you can see, I was unsuccessful in convincing them that it would not bode well for our district and the future of Catholic education if we allowed ourselves to participate in disseminating his uninformed views and comments which frankly, in my opinion, are not in keeping with the spirit of the Year of Mercy recently declared by Pope Francis.

Many of my constituents have expressed their dismay/anger/horror/frustration/ that ECSD sent his letter which states so many hurtful and untrue things about the LGBTQ community — including that GSAs and QSAs are “highly politicized ideological clubs which seek to cure society of ‘homophobia’ and ‘heterosexism’, and which accept the idea that all forms of consensual sexual expression are legitimate.” This is not at all what GSAs and QSAs are — they are simply safe spaces for LGBTQ students and their allies to meet and receive support.  Studies have shown that schools which have GSAs lower suicide rates for LGBTQ students and even help reduce the bullying experienced by those perceived as LGBTQ.  As I have mentioned in previous blog posts:  GSAs are clubs which offer pastoral support to a very vulnerable group of students.  We need these groups in our schools as a means of saving lives.

There were many other things said in Bishop Henry’s letter which I disagree with and as an educated Catholic, I want my constituents to know that I unequivocally disagreed that it should be sent to our parents.

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62 Comments
  1. Paul Bowen permalink

    Thank-you for your leadership and thoughtfulness on this life-changing issue. I can’t begin to imagine how much less painful my high school years would have been with the solace and camaraderie of a GSA. I tweeted the Pope that Henry had strayed from the flock and must be reminded he is a SERVANT of a very generous God. I almost feel sorry for the lonely, bitter old man who’s only counsel is to strike out at the vulnerable. Keep up the great cause and know you have much support. Shame on the Board for propagating such hateful speech. Last time I looked up the word ‘Catholic’ it meant ‘universal’…

    • Many children are bullied and for all sorts of reasons, not just LGBTQ related issues. When this unhappy fact is repeatedly and wilfully omitted from all discussion on school bullying to focus on only one particular group of young people, then it is correct and proper for someone of Bishop Henry’s position to question whether there isn’t an ideological agenda being pushed.

      Whether or not the Catholic School Board should remain or be dismantled is an entirely different subject for debate but given it was originally set up so that Catholic children could be brought up within the Catholic faith, it would be irony indeed should it find itself dismantled for its adherence to the Catholic faith.

  2. Fr. Stefano Penna permalink

    Mx. Grell,

    it is so “prophetic” of you to silence the voices of those with whom you personally do not agree – particularly when they get in the way of your own “magisterium”. So open minded of you. Do your constituents understand that you have broken away from communion with our own Archbishop? Do your constituents recognize that you are completely in cahoots with those whose intent in this new attempt to bully anyone who does not “speak the ‘new’ language” of family, sexuality, … indeed, the same kind of English that most people speak today? According to the new Government regulations for “Best Practices” there is only one English that can be acceptable: the bizarre right-speak (the Nazi term was “gleichschaltung”) of graduate students and their faculty advisors in the Department of Eugenics … er … Racial Anthropology … er … Gender Diversity.

    You have said that you support all of these regulations: Let’s try one:

    “School forms, websites, letters, and other communications use non-gendered and
    inclusive language (e.g., parents/guardians, caregivers, families, partners, “student”
    or “their” instead of Mr., Ms., Mrs., mother, father, him, her, etc.).”

    Do your constituents realize that you support eradicating the words “mother” and “father” from Catholic Schools … er ALL schools?

    How about this one?

    “A student who objects to sharing a washroom or change-room with a student who is
    trans or gender-diverse is offered an alternative facility (this scenario also applies
    when a parent or other caregiver objects to shared washroom or change-room
    facilities on behalf of their child)”

    So you are favour of public shaming (that at least was the way you presented – erroneously of course – the little child whose mother initiated a complaint) of a little 7 year old girl who might not understand or feel comfortable with a little boy in her washroom … or of the sixteen year old boy going through the awkwardness of puberty who really doesn’t like having a girl staring at him while he changes? Who is the bully in this situation?

    Do your constituents realize that you completely support the gender ideology that Pope Francis described as “ideological colonization”:

    ” I’ll give just one example that I saw myself. Twenty years ago, in 1995, a minister of education asked for a large loan to build schools for the poor. They gave it to her on the condition that in the schools there would be a book for the children of a certain level, no? It was a school book, a book prepared well, didactically, in which gender theory was taught.
    This woman needed the money but that was the condition. Clever woman, she said yes and did it again and again and it went ahead like this and that’s how it was achieved. This is ideological colonization.
    Why do I say ideological colonization? Because they take, they really take, they take the need of a people to seize an opportunity to enter and grow strong — with the children. But it is not new, this. The same was done by the dictatorships of the last century. They entered with their own doctrine — think of the Balilla (Mussolini’s fascist youth organization — editor’s note), think of the Hitler Youth.
    They colonized the people, but they wanted to do it. But how much suffering — peoples must not lose their freedom. Each people has its own culture, its own history. Every people has its own culture.” (Jan. 19, 2015)

    You know this is not about GSAs or QSAs … this is about your own insistence that the ideological voices of your little group of politicians who think they alone have a monopoly on understanding, compassion, and tolerance. Do your constituents understand that this is the kind of person that they have “representing” them?

    • Paul Bowen permalink

      We live in a democracy wherein there is a clear separation between Church and State – lest we forget residential schools which the Catholic Church championed. May God Bless you.

    • Brandon permalink

      You seriously referenced the Nazi’s? Remind me again what the Catholic Church did to defend the near extinction of jews in Europe during world war 2?

      While we are on the subject of protecting children, shall we discuss the thousands who were murdered and raped in residential schools while supposedly being protected by the church?

      Perhaps we could visit the hundreds of youth who were sexual abused by members of the church, these same paedophile priests were then shielded by the church

      The moral authority the church possesses these days could fill a thimble so do the world a favour and sit your ass down!

      The church has been responsible for some of the worst massacres and tortures in human history

    • Todd S permalink

      Hear hear

    • I’m very uncomfortable and perplexed by Fr. Penna’s allegations, especially to the extreme to which he makes towards Grell and quite honesty, the Vox Populi, which his own theology validates.
      The signs of the times certainly call for a more authentic and responsible manner when dealing with the very lives of LGBTQ students.

    • Juliet Guichon permalink

      Stefano Penna, you wrote to Patricia Grell, “Do your constituents understand that you have broken away from communion with our own Archbishop?”

      If you mean that Ms. Grell disagrees with the Archbishop, then what is wrong with that?

    • Dear Fr. Penna, If I was willing to silence any voices I would have disallowed your comments from appearing on my blog. I have never denied your voice nor any other contrary voice on my blog. Please see this blog post and others I have posted for evidence of this. I believe it is important to have respectful conversations so that together we can all find a solution to our issues. I did not want Bishop Henry’s letter disseminated through ECSD because I believe it contained inaccurate information and only further fueled hatred of LGBTQ members of our society. Please remember that our Ukrainian Catholic brothers and sisters have managed to welcome a transgender woman and her family into their parish and diocese — Ukrainian Catholics who are in communion with our Pope. I have specifically asked this transgender Catholic woman if her bishop (Bishop Motiuk) and her parish priest denied her access to the bathroom she identifies with and she said no. She also shared with me that she participates in every aspect of parish life including involvement in ministries. If they can do it, why can’t we? They have chosen and are witnesses of a pastoral approach. We can learn from their example of mercy and compassion. It is the least we can do as followers of Christ who reached out to the marginalized and brought them to the centre of society. Let us not forget Christ’s example of mercy and compassion. I believe the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy in Edmonton is doing a better job of this than we and I am deeply saddened by this.

      • Yes to Patricia. And perhaps one only needs to look to Pope Francis’ latest book on Mercy in which he specifically talks about the self-righteousness of clergy. The laity are much more educated, and theologically educated too, than ever before. The clergy needs to recognize this and engage in intelligent, meaningful conversation rather than top down, authoritarian ways that just don’t cut the mustard anymore.

      • It is not alarming, Mrs. Grell, that you may have a differing opinion to a Bishop. What is alarming is that you are implying that Bishop Henry, Catholics or Catholicism fuels hatred by merely disagreeing with the notions of sexual orientation or perception as a vehicle for persons to identify themselves with. What Bishop Henry and our Bishops are saying is that they oppose the imposition of these guidelines as they oppose our religion and is a state interference in a religiously identified sector.

        You also imply that Bishop Henry and the Church’s positions are not merciful.
        While I’m confident that the approach used by the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy was pastoral, I disagree with your notion of mercy.

        Jesus did not approve of the sin of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus’ mercy was that he forgave-her her sins rather than execute her, because He could have cast the first stone, since He is without sin. What Jesus didn’t do is as telling as what He did do. He didn’t change the Mosaic Law and therefore redefine the existing definition of marriage of one man and one woman make one flesh to something like sex is now permissible to everyone and allowed under any form the human heart desires for how God the Father has created you is not merciful. (Reference John 8:2-11).

        Pope Francis agrees with this exegesis in the book titled “Pope Francis The Name of God is Mercy” in pages xii-xvii. (ISBN 978-0-399-58863-1)

        It is one thing to pastor an individual sinner versus enshrining lies into our Catholic institutions. That would not be merciful, that would be loving since Love “does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor 13:6).

      • Apologies. I wish to correct a hastily constructed sentence. I wrote:

        “It is one thing to pastor an individual sinner versus enshrining lies into our Catholic institutions. That would not be merciful, that would be loving since Love “does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor 13:6).”

        I meant to say:

        It is one thing to pastor an individual sinner versus enshrining lies into our Catholic institutions. That would not be merciful, that would not be loving since Love “does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor 13:6).

        BTW Mrs. Grell, thank you for the opportunity to reply to you and your views.

    • Bonnie Jean permalink

      As a parent of two adult gay sons and one gay son-in-law (all of whom graduated from ECSD high schools), I wish to say how saddened and disappointed I am by the reply from Father Penna and the lack of a pastoral response, both from Father Penna here and from Bishop Henry in his letter. I would not venture to debate theology with either of them (I know I would lose) but I can say that there was little understanding, compassion, or tolerance on view in either of these two texts. Our children deserve better.

    • Well Fr. Penna, I’m one of her constituents and frankly, I’ve been quite pleased that she’s standing up for compassion and respect.

      However, I haven’t been too pleased with the school board as a whole and am seriously thinking about taking my money (aka property tax support) to the public school board instead. And that’s a pity considering that I grew up going to Edmonton Catholic schools, as my siblings have and most of my friends, and have supported them with my property taxes throughout my adulthood.

      • If you don’t agree with the Church on this and on other issues, you should indeed send your children to public school were they will obtain a strong atheistic education.

    • Morgan Duhamel permalink

      God bless father. We need more priests like you to preach the faith, not to suppress it.

    • Father Stefano,

      They’re removing the words “father” and “mother” because not every child has a father and mother. As for the rest, I think you have misunderstood tolerance and understanding.

      With Sorrow,
      A former student

    • Well said. I totally support your admonishment of this cafeteria Catholic.

  3. Siobhan Vipond permalink

    The email showed how out of touch the author and sender are. My daughter deserves better from her school board. I am happy to hear you are standing up for what is right, thank you.

  4. Joan Metz permalink

    You are my hero!, BE CAREFUL and remember these “old boy ” clubs will pass – they haven’t heard of 2015 , hugs,Joan Metz

  5. Bishop Henry’s heart and mind are from another era which includes such tbings as residential schools and homes for unwed mothers. The world has moved on from this archaic stereotype.

    Whoever at ECSD decided to echo his out-of-touch opinion in messaging issued from your school board clearly has missed the point that has been broadly made: religious beliefs are protected by Canada’s human rights law whereas actions carry accountability.

    As a trans rights advocate and mother of two raised in the French Catholic culture, I was appalled to read and see the ideas put forth by Mr Henry. I was further appalled to read that ECSD has given his regressive views the slightest credibility in 2016 when it is clear that applying his ideas would be illegal in every province in Canada.

    ECSD continues to ignore simple facts:
    Extreme views have less credibility than reasoned ones and hiding behind ‘belief’ when harming children is poorly viewed in all of Canada except for the tiniest of minority of fundamentalist extremists. That minority simply is not representative of the mainstream and surely ECSD does not either to apply their extreme ideas.

    Either ECSD will adhere to core Canadian values of its own device anf follow the law or the law will impose itself on them.

    Let’s pray ECSD find wisdom to do the correct, legal thing.

    • “Either ECSD will adhere to core Canadian values of its own device anf follow the law or the law will impose itself on them”: Not so long ago, Canadian “core” values were Christian values. Not so anymore. Christians have a duty of rejecting non-christian (pagan) values and disobeying unjust laws, laws that support morally evil or sinful situations.

  6. We are all familiar with the saying, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” It’s a simple maxim that Bishop Henry would do well to remember before firing off pastoral letters to the Catholic fold and sharing them with the general public. With bombastic and abstruse rhetoric, Bishop Henry accused the Alberta government of narrow-mindedness and seeking to dominate others, an accusation that fits squarely on his own head and perfectly describes the content of his letter. Allowing students to form voluntary clubs which foster respect and understanding of differing sexual orientations is hardly a “forceful imposition of a particular narrow-minded anti-Catholic ideology.”

    Linda Smith
    Author of Terrifying Freedom
    http://www.terrifyingfreedom.com

  7. Rebecca permalink

    Patricia,

    The guidelines put forward are absolutely opposing to our faith and Bishop Henry did a good job of reminding us of this. I’m so embarrassed to have you as a Catholic trustee as you are publicly defending things that are so contrary to the faith that you claim to believe in and have been elected to uphold.

    God is love, yet still so many turned away from Christ during his day. His message was challenging, tough to hear, and often contradictory to the way people were living. Remember this and take courage.

    Our children are on loan to us from God. We are the hands and feet of Christ and must lovingly guide them towards the Truth. As a parent, I know how terribly hard this is. But it is our job to bring them closer to God and lead them into his truth and goodness.

    Also, I sincerely challenge you to take a deeper look at the message of Pope Francis without cherry picking the way the media often does. We might not like the truth, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

    Praying for you.

    • David permalink

      Great response Rebecca. I am completely saddened how our own elected Catholic trustees have put their “own views” ahead what is right.

      Ms. Grell let me help you with another position of a Leader who you should embrace – Pope Francis … and I hope you and your colleagues think about what he says rather than be blinded by opinion and media. This from the Pope’s recent address to the U.S. Congress where he urges us NOT to have the final word on “incontestable” natural laws such as the natural differences between man and woman – Incontestable!

      To the Pope’s point in the end you must answer this question: Do you or anyone else think that they have the right or the ability to question or have power over Creation other than God? I would say we/people do not have this power. Please read and pray on this:

      Creation is compromised ‘where we ourselves have the final word… The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any instance above ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves’ (ID. Address to the Clergy of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone, 6 August 2008, cited ibid.). Consequently, the defence of the environment and the fight against exclusion demand that we recognize a moral law written into human nature itself, one which includes the natural difference between man and woman (cf. Laudato Si’, 155), and absolute respect for life in all its stages and dimensions (cf. ibid., 123, 136).

      “Without the recognition of certain incontestable natural ethical limits and without the immediate implementation of those pillars of integral human development, the ideal of ‘saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war’ (Charter of the United Nations, Preamble), and ‘promoting social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom’ (ibid.), risks becoming an unattainable illusion, or, even worse, idle chatter which serves as a cover for all kinds of abuse and corruption, or for carrying out an ideological colonization by the imposition of anomalous models and lifestyles which are alien to people’s identity and, in the end, irresponsible.”

    • Allison permalink

      Patricia, I support you. Well said. I applaud Bishop Henry for standing up for the faith and no this does not mean being homophobic. Those that want to criticize, pick up a catechism and give it a read. Then we can talk.

  8. Sonya permalink

    Bishop Henry and Father Penna are right! If you don’t agree with Catholic teaching then go to a public school. Don’t try to change a catholic school to suite what you believe. Truth never changes, trends change, why is the policy being pushed trying forcing a Catholic schools to put in policy against Catholic teaching. It sounds unfair. Besides the issue of Gender and all that is still unclear and not a perfect science more study of cause and effect needs to happen. Many individuals change switch back to original gender – all people have male and female qualities within them…. I think this it is a confusion and disorder which is being popularized today by special interest groups agenda. One day these people will perhaps even sue the government for encouraging this whole this whole issue when they realize that maybe the original gender was correct after all.
    Leave the children alone, leave the church alone, go to a public school or start your own school system.

  9. Thalia permalink

    Bishop Henry spoke the truth. If you do not believe in Catholic values then don’t work in a catholic school.

  10. Maria permalink

    66. Is sodomy a sign of the Church’s “self-destruction”?

    Yes, as Pope Paul VI declared in one of his most outspoken denunciations of homosexuality. In context, he is speaking of the immoral practices among professed Catholics who are defending homosexuality:

    “The Church finds herself in an hour of disquiet, of self-criticism, one might even say of self-destruction. It is like an acute and complex interior upheaval, which no one expected after the Council. One thought of a blossoming, a serene expansion of the mature concepts of the Council. The Church still has this aspect of blossoming. But since “bonum ex integra causa, malum ex quocumque defectu,” the aspect of sorrow has become most notable. The Church is also being wounded by those who are part of her” (Allocution to the students of the Lombard Seminary, Dec. 7, 1968).

    –Catechism on Homosexuality by Servant of God John A. Hardon SJ

  11. Joan Metz permalink

    Couldnt agree with you more ! Remember that we burn our prophets .Joan

  12. Maria permalink

    PROPHET. The biblical term “nabi” means one who spoke, acted, or wrote under the extraordinary influence of God to make known the divine counsels and will. Yet commonly associated with this primary function to proclaim the word of God, a prophet also prophesied by foretelling future events. His role, then, was to both proclaim and to make the proclamation credible.
    -Catholic Dictionary

    In this instance, there is a proclamation AGAINST the word of God. Homosexuality has always and everywhere been condemned by Christ Jesus and the church. A prophet cannot prophesy that which is contrary to the to the Word, our Lord and God.

  13. David permalink

    The letter is clearly on topic (like it or not), and it is valuable as information. You would think that including it would be in the best interest of accountability, accessibility and openness that everyone seeks these days. How can parents of Catholic students measure your response as a trustee if they do not know what the ecclesiastical leaders are saying about the issue? Does not seem to make sense to bury it.

  14. Brendan Fitzgerald permalink

    To Fr. Penna,

    You likened the study of gender diversity to eugenics, but you’re essentially promoting your own brand of eugenics by advocating against legislation which has been proven to reduce suicide rates among LGBT youth.

    As per the following study out of the University of Victoria, on ‘School-based strategies to reduce suicidal ideation and discrimination among sexual minority and heterosexual youth in Canada’, GSA’s and anti-homophobic policies in schools reduce the rate of LGB suicide by half or more.

    http://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/ijcyfs/article/view/12856/3986

    “Gay-Straight Alliances, and specific anti-homophobic bullying policies, appear to be two
    important school-based interventions to help prevent anti-gay discrimination, suicidal ideation, and
    suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents, as well as having some effect for mostly heterosexual girls and exclusively heterosexual boys. The potential effect is not small; although LGB youth generally have twice or greater the odds of suicidal behaviour than their heterosexual peers, each of these interventions, where they had been in place for a few years, reduced those odds by half or more. Schools have a responsibility to create safe and supportive environments for all their students, and these interventions are two strategies that may help some of their most vulnerable students survive. Given how long it may take for their effects to be felt throughout the school, there is no time to lose” (Saewyc, Konishi, Rose, and Homma 2014).

    I therefore do not understand your commitment to anti-GSA, anti-gender-neutral policies. Don’t you want to save lives? Catholics should feel a sense of responsibility to protect the lives of marginalized youth in their own schools, especially since Catholics actively promote the preciousness of life with their staunch opposition to abortion. How can you be committed to saving the life of one and not the other?

    To Ms. Grell,

    Thank you for your continuing support in the fight for equality in the Catholic community. It is progressives like you are leading the church in the right direction. God is behind you, despite the opinions of pundits like Fr. Penna and Bishop Henry!

  15. MBK permalink

    Ms. Grell, since the incident of you and Trustee Bergstra trying to erase a tape and countless times when you defend that you didn’t say something, I have NO trust in what you say. You have a personal agenda and will do anything to have it come to fruition. I have no faith in you as a CATHOLIC trustee. You make everything sound like the schools are places of hate if we do not do what your “team” (Panas/Wells) are directing you to do. You say you want to have a respectful discussion and yet your past actions at numerous meetings show otherwise. My hope is that this current board is dismissed. You are not the saviour of catholic education. Very much the opposite!

  16. Fr. Mark Sych permalink

    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/ukrainian-archbishop-gender-ideology-threatens-a-new-enslavement-of-our-peo
    Please read the above link to get the correct information about the position of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church…
    These tactics with the transgender ideology is “divide and conquer.” In one way or another, Catholic Education, where it has existed, has been already dismantled in most provinces. Imagine, in Quebec, not long ago relatively speaking, was 80% practicing Catholic and public education was Catholic education… It is deceiving to say that the government really wants and supports Catholic Education. If governments had their way, Catholic Education would have been gone a long time ago in all the provinces. The government may have finally fallen on an issue that continues to push Catholic Education in our province down the slippery slope to it’s final end. It is the sign of the times. More and more issues, especially around morality, are colliding violently against generations of established sound Catholic Orthodox doctrine. Many people are falling for these tremendous errors of the popular culture, and are adamant in calling these errors, catholic, when they simply are not. This is not the first time in the history of the Church, She has encountered “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” “…on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18)

    Go with God & may Jesus Christ be glorified always! Fraternally, Fr. Mark Sych

  17. Walter Dunn permalink

    At last our Church is speaking out.
    Thank you to Bishop Henry and to Father Penna, but do you see how bad it is? Why did you wait so long? Now the uphill battle will be all the more difficult.
    To all the misinformed banshees in the Alberta Catholic school system (and out of it): Close your mouths, gather your “feelings” and learn about your Faith. Seriously. You are an embarrassment to informed and faithful Catholics everywhere. To all Catholic priests and bishops in our country: Stand up confidently, speak up and insist on what is right. (“What is truth?” Why, what you learned at your mother’s knee. Quit the pretense already.)

  18. George permalink

    Amen to all my brothers and sisters in Christ who stand for truth! For the battle is raging on an Ms. Grell believes she can beat Christ! Good luck to you….you’ll need it!

  19. Dan permalink

    A Catholic school trustee publicly criticizing a Bishop and calling his statements “uniformed” is unconscionable. He speaks for the church and his flock, and has every right, and in fact is expected to – as long as it is aligned with the teachings of the church. And any informed Catholic knows that he is. Does this mean his approach was perfect – of course not. He’s only human and the NDP is pushing the limits of his patience – as it should for us all. But let’s try to break this issue down from the Catholic perspective. What is the ultimate purpose of our lives? It is to know, love and do God’s will here on earth, so that we can spend all eternity loving and being loved by Him in heaven. As such, with this and any issue touching on morality, Catholics (including Catholic school trustees) must out of love bring a faith perspective to our decisions – ie. all our policies must help, or at least not hinder, our students in their journey to heaven. Sin separates us from God. And according to Catholic teachings (note this is not the Bishop’s personal perspective), homosexuality, inappropriate heterosexual behaviors such as extramarital relationships, denying our God given gender and thus ultimately manipulating/mutilating our bodies… are all sinful – if needed see our catechism for the reasons why. Therefore anything that leads children to sin and thus away from God cannot be encouraged, whether indirectly or directly. The NDP’s guidelines support and encourage these behaviors, despite their best intentions and presumably unintentionally. And why did Christ and does the Church continue to tell us these are sinful behaviors? Because Christ knows us intimately and He loves us, and He knows these behaviors will cause us pain (if not immediately, then eventually) and possibly ultimate separation from Him. He knows what makes us happy (why else did he give us all His teachings?! To make our lives miserable – of course not!). And these teachings/Truths won’t change over time – which is one of the greatest consolations of being Catholic. This said, in NO way does Bishop Henry not support, and he in fact demands, that Catholics and our schools provide a welcoming and safe environment for ALL students, including homosexual, trans… And to think he is suggesting otherwise plays perfectly into the hands of those pushing this agenda and is frankly ridiculous. The arrogance in all of us who think we have a monopoly on compassion and tolerance and solutions to complex human issues is shameful. The Bishop espouses that we must love the sinner, but hate the sin – as Christ himself taught us – for we are all sinners. To be clear, I believe Bishop Henry is speaking against: Catholic schools being forced to use politicized language in naming GSA clubs; Catholic students being taught (or shown indirectly) messages that will prematurely add confusion and worries re their sexuality; Catholic teachers and staff being forced to tell and show every child that whatever they think and however they act related to sexuality is acceptable; Catholic parents losing their rights on these critically important matters;… In summary, his frustration is from the overall lack of consideration of the Church’s teachings as it relates to the Catholic schools (and I am sure other religious schools as well) and their policies – of course he is in no way speaking for public schools. And what ultimately drives his passion for these concerns? His faithfulness to Christ and therefore a desire to protect our children! And for this you are apologizing?!?! And if all this doesn’t substantially align with your “progressive” catholic way of thinking, then I suggest: A) resign from your position as Catholic school trustee; and B) contemplate and research more profoundly what really is the best way to help our precious children who suffer from confusing and often unwanted thoughts (as well as all the not confused children they share a school with) – ie. is telling them it’s all OK and they just need to “go with it” really in their best long term interests?! Here are a few links to information that may help you with this:
    http://www.acpeds.org/…/gender-identity-issues-in...
    http://www.wsj.com/…/paul-mchugh-transgender-surgery...
    http://www.sexchangeregret.com/

    Respectfully

  20. Bernice permalink

    An apology was never needed. As a Catholic parent, we deserve to know and be advised of those that go against our faith. I 100% agree with the Bishop. It will be a real shame for the Trustees to go against the faith for a very, very small population. What about the rest of us? Those parents that have children in a catholic school should abide by the faith or leave the school. They have a choice.

  21. Kelly permalink

    Plain and simple, any Alberta Catholic school trustees, as well as the chair of any Catholic school board who are NOT in communion with the Catholic Church, are obviously not practicing Catholics, because of their contrarian and misguided stance, and as such, should be removed from the positions they currently hold. They are allowing the creation of an unsafe and intolerant environment, as well as the perversion of both God’s Truth and Natural Law to be promulgated to the most innocent and vulnerable in our society, our precious and malleable children. These individuals DO NOT desire true Catholic education and have openly rejected and criticized Bishops (and indirectly, the Pope) who stand with the traditional and True teaching of the Church. Who are these women to change the Word of God? The hubris is shocking beyond belief. It is a mortal sin to re-create God into your own image (idolatry), and hope to enter into the Kingdom without repenting. Something needs to be done to remove these permissive and “progressive” idiots from any and all positions of authority. These misguided and heretical Catholic school board representatives run the very real risk of being anathematized, and they should be, if they persist in their defiance of Church teaching. I’m well beyond tired of my religious rights being trampled and utterly disregarded.

  22. Adam permalink

    The NDP guidelines call for debate, not blind acceptance. These guidelines call into consideration truly questionable content, which the public has the right to discourse.

    These guidelines would strongly effect pedagogical practice for teachers (I am one). More research continues to come out that boys and girls learn differently and that teachers should provide and accommodate for those differences. One concern I have with these guidelines is that they aggressively prohibit sex specific teaching. What is sex specific teaching? Sex specific teaching is understanding how neurological and developmental aspects of the brain work so you can focus and implement strategic planning to maximize student achievement. Simple examples I have used is giving a boy time to “cool down” when he has a blowout before talking to him. Why? Because his testosterone is at a high level which inhibits the reasoning aspect of his brain. In other words, he can’t explain why he is mad, he needs time. Girls on the other hand, have that ability to discuss things without needing a cool down period. Another example that has impacted my practice is classroom desk arrangement. In the past, I have used gender specific classroom arrangements, where boys had more freedom and space, and girls were closer together. Research supports that for girls they thrive when placed into environments that stimulate talk and solve problems orally while for boys it supports the freedom to move more and have space. There are gender differences in pedagogical practice that should be not dismissed so readily that research supports. I would argue that the majority of the public would support that conclusion too. Sex is something that is so unique biologically and can be used for enhancing learning.

    Another problem I have with this document is that it aggressively excludes gender from all aspects of the person. I was married a year and a half ago, and I remember the first time I used the word wife. It made me smile with joy and delight. I still smile when I consider that I am a husband. Soon, we hope to expect our first child and I will be a father. The word of husband and father have a special meaning to me, one that is close to my heart. I would argue that society and the public also hold these words with a special significance. How can this document promote inclusivity when it excludes and prohibits the use of these words? I am shocked. An old saying is “pot calling the kettle black.” Education is a powerful tool, as it shapes the culture we live in. What we educate today, becomes what we live tomorrow. Obviously this is what the NDP expect by setting out these guidelines, but I want to question if we should as society start educating our children using gender neutral words? Should we disband the words of Father, Mother, Husband, Wife? Should the NDP decide this for us, without proper public consent?

    Lastly, I feel that the principle of subsidiarity has been neglected by the NDP. It seems like our government is on a trend to do what they want, how they want, without actually talking to the people who are impacted by these policies. One simple thing I have learned in teaching is that it is so important to build positive relationships with the people you work with and the students you teach. We should do this by listening, sharing, and building up each other with mutual respect. Have the NDP operated this way when they enforce these guidelines upon all schools? In education, a one size fits all approach doesn’t work. Can you imagine if I gave the same work activity without any differentiation to all my students? Some would not be able to do it at all, others would do it too quickly, etc. The same principle should be applied when dealing with schools! If government enforces Teaching Quality Standards: knowledge, skills, and attributes (KSA’s) for its teachers to follow, such as tailoring our instruction to meet the needs of the specific child; how much more should our government lead by this example. Here the NDP have contradicted that professional responsibility by enforcing a non-differentiated policy to all districts and schools. Does that make sense? Catholic, Islamic, Francophone, Charter…etc., we are all so different. We should be treated with greater respect from our government. Bishop Henry, is right. I am grateful he is standing up to these guidelines and I hope many other school leaders will follow suit.

    • David permalink

      Next stop for you Adam – School Board Chair – well said, well thought out , you are truly blessed.

    • Bernice permalink

      Adam, thank you for the excellent post. Well written and should be sent to the Bishops’. I also agree with David that you bring forth the faith, values and respect that would be welcome on the Catholic School Board.

  23. Michael:who-is-like-God? permalink

    Patricia Grell …you need to apologize publicly to Bishop Henry, or you need to resign. You also need to study the issue with more wisdom rather than rely on a few statistical reports from a university with a tremendously pro-homosexual pro-radical feminist agenda such as Victoria.
    Do you have any relative comparisons to studies about how a Catholic school might have dealt with the very same issue 40 or 50 years ago – No. You don’t. So just how do you know whether your pro-lgbt method actually stands up to the scrutiny of the ages, not just 2016? You don’t. You are taking it on Faith – but not on the Faith of Christianity.

    So suicide patterns might decrease temporarily for a short period of a homosexual’s life (look to scripture on the real pattern Romans 1:26 for example) , what about the longer term? what is the collateral damage? Misleading these “little ones” into thinking that homosexuality is a sanctioned or acceptable way of life in Christianity? (You do recall the millstone reference?) Thereby increasing the possibility of dabbling in the lifestyle at the particularly vulnerable pubescent age? Should we expose children to pornography, if they so desire? If you cannot accept this component of Christianity Ms. Grell, then you need to move on or remain silent in Faithful contemplation.

    Yes all have sinned, but we don’t join organizations that promote our particular weakness/vulnerability like an LGBT group, do we? Does the school have a support club for habitual liars, drug addicts, violent students? No in each case we work towards reducing and eliminating these habits, primarily through Christian teaching and traditions.

    You have proven to be a useful idiot for the enemies of the Church in the state and media today. We had a pastoral associate once of your ilk – who did much damage to a Parish because she thought she was “with it” with the latest divinity training and animal rights advocacy (she managed to schedule animal-blessings on the day of the local pro-life silent witness -every year). She wasn’t. It didn’t work. She’s gone (of her own volition none the less). Thank God, a now much stronger Parish than ever ( in my memory) with a wonderfully orthodox Pastor. The only thing better would have been if she had realized the error of her ways and returned – but the prodigal son returns in God’s good time, if at all.

  24. Michael:who-is-like-God? permalink

    “Safe schools” as a concept is driven by NDP (marxist) activists (who’ve migrated from Ontario to Alberta) – who doesn’t want safe-schools? You can’t lose with a title like that. But the agenda is far from safe for our children, don’t be sucked in by the dialectic propoganda. The ministry of Education has no right to step on the principles of Catholic Education – you merely have to say no, and then fight them in court if they insist (many intervenors participated, including Evangelicals). The Quebec government tried this with mandated neutrality in world religions religious education on a private catholic school. It stood up and beat the Government. If you stand up for the Truth you can prevail (and the Truth is not with the LGBT homosexualist agenda, now matter what colour they paint it)

    See:
    Supreme Court rules Quebec infringed on Loyola High School’s religious freedom
    Montreal school wanted to opt out of Quebec’s ethics and religious culture course (March 19 2015)

  25. Monika permalink

    It boggles one’s mind that someone so ignorant of what the Catholic Church is teaching dares to correct Bishop Henry, but it is true that pride darkens the intellect. Your excessive pride is a sign of contempt of God and of those who bear his commission.

    The diocesan Bishop is the principal teacher and shepherd of the Catholic faithful. Bishops govern spiritually in their diocese, making sure that their flock is taught sound doctrine.

    If you do not like what the Catholic Church is teaching, join one of the thousands of Protestant denominations, where you can be your own pope. Having you as a Catholic trustee is a parody of the Catholic faith.

  26. Kelly permalink

    Furthermore, irrespective of what you choose to believe or not believe, the “representatives” in the above article claim membership in the Catholic Church, and to represent the Church with regard to Catholic education. It is their duty to govern and guide the board according to what the Catholic Church teaches, and has maintained since matters of doctrine and dogma were decided long, long ago, rather than hold their own heretical Council and diverge from official Church teaching. As such, they are bound to adhere to Catholic teachings, and NOT re-interpret them with a perverse and irreligious lens of “progressivism.” These individuals are NOT promoting and maintaining Catholic education, but rather, their own agenda, and as such, have no business representing Catholic interests. It is not their place to “question” that which is established as God’s Law and Truth, and as such, recant and and repent; failing that, they should resign their positions, or be removed from them.

  27. Fr. Mark Sych permalink

    http://www.hprweb.com/2016/01/how-the-synod-of-2015-ignored-the-real-problem-50-years-in-the-making/
    Please read the above article written by Fr. Regis Scanlon, O.F.M. CAP.
    Very applicable to the underlying issues at the very heart of what Orthodox Catholic Christians want the world of the dissenting “popular culture” to hear. May God wake up “the sleeping giant” and more bishops speak as Bishop Henry has. The door has been opened. Let the momentum of Truth gain speed power and force. May Our Lord God & Saviour Jesus Christ be glorified always! Go with God.
    Fraternally,
    Fr. Mark Sych

    • Marko Stefaniuk M.T.S. permalink

      Ukrainian Catholics who are faithful to the teachings of the Magisterium and the Pope in Rome, have been waiting for His Excellency Bishop David Motiuk to take accountability for the public statements made by Panas about his supposed support for him? It has now been THREE months and a new year and still he refuses to make a statement. The matter is now PUBLIC because M. Panas made it PUBLIC! This is causing scandal in the Edmonton Eparchy and beyond:

      https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/transgender-activist-claims-catholic-bishop-supported-transition-to-female

      His silence is culpability one way or another. If those were lies he needs to demand a public retraction. If not, take accountability for his statements and stand up for what he obviously supports.

      Catholics will continue to be confused by believing M. Panas’ claims until they are addressed publicly.

      CANON 404 PARAGRAPH 1 of the EASTERN CODE OF CANON LAW:

      IN ADDITION TO CATECHETICAL INSTRUCTION, WHICH SHOULD BE RECEIVED FROM INFANCY, LAY PERSONS HAVE THE RIGHT AND OBLIGATION OF ACQUIRING A KNOWLEDGE, SUITABLE TO THEIR CAPACITY AND CONDITION, OF THE DOCTRINE REVEALED BY CHRIST AND TAUGHT BY THE AUTHENTIC MAGISTERIUM OF THE CHURCH, SO THAT THEY MAY BE ABLE NOT ONLY TO LIVE ACCORDING TO THAT DOCTRINE, BUT ALSO TO ANNOUNCE IT, AND, IF NEED BE, TO DEFEND IT!

      Why does the Roman Catholic Bishop Fred Henry of another Diocese have to defend the faith, while there is only silence from our God Loving Bishop?

      http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/Gender-Ideology-Select-Teaching-Resources.pdf

      Read and discern for yourselves faithful Catholics Patriarch Sviatoslav’s comments on Gender Ideology directly from our Ukrainian Greek Catholic Patriarchate’s website:

      http://news.ugcc.ua/en/news/the_head_of_the_ugcc_ideology_called_gender_wants_to_destroy_the_family_institution_75711.html

      ACTS 20:28-30 NAB
      Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers,* in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them!

      May the Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on us all.

  28. Marko Stefaniuk M.T.S. permalink

    Ukrainian Catholics who are faithful to the teachings of the Magisterium and the Pope in Rome, have been waiting for His Excellency Bishop David Motiuk to take accountability for the public statements made by Panas about his supposed support for him? It has now been THREE months and a new year and still he refuses to make a statement. The matter is now PUBLIC because M. Panas made it PUBLIC! This is causing scandal in the Edmonton Eparchy and beyond:

    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/transgender-activist-claims-catholic-bishop-supported-transition-to-female

    His silence is culpability one way or another. If those were lies he needs to demand a public retraction. If not, take accountability for his statements and stand up for what he obviously supports.

    Catholics will continue to be confused by believing M. Panas’ claims until they are addressed publicly.

    CANON 404 PARAGRAPH 1 of the EASTERN CODE OF CANON LAW:

    IN ADDITION TO CATECHETICAL INSTRUCTION, WHICH SHOULD BE RECEIVED FROM INFANCY, LAY PERSONS HAVE THE RIGHT AND OBLIGATION OF ACQUIRING A KNOWLEDGE, SUITABLE TO THEIR CAPACITY AND CONDITION, OF THE DOCTRINE REVEALED BY CHRIST AND TAUGHT BY THE AUTHENTIC MAGISTERIUM OF THE CHURCH, SO THAT THEY MAY BE ABLE NOT ONLY TO LIVE ACCORDING TO THAT DOCTRINE, BUT ALSO TO ANNOUNCE IT, AND, IF NEED BE, TO DEFEND IT!

    Why does the Roman Catholic Bishop Fred Henry of another Diocese have to defend the faith, while there is only silence from our God Loving Bishop?

    http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/Gender-Ideology-Select-Teaching-Resources.pdf

    Read and discern for yourselves faithful Catholics Patriarch Sviatoslav’s comments on Gender Ideology directly from our Ukrainian Greek Catholic Patriarchate’s website:

    http://news.ugcc.ua/en/news/the_head_of_the_ugcc_ideology_called_gender_wants_to_destroy_the_family_institution_75711.html

    ACTS 20:28-30 NAB
    Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers,* in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them!

    May the Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on us all.

  29. Hieromonk Teodosy permalink

    RE HOMOSEXUALITY… AND THE UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH …

    Just to be absolutely clear regarding the Ukrainian Catholic Church and her moral doctrine regarding homosexuality… in May of 2013, Patriarch SVIATOSLAV – a moral theologian himself – clearly expressed Church’s perennial teaching in a candid interview with a Ukrainian news service…

    Journalist: Some call you the most liberal head of the Ukrainian Church and that your views on homosexuality are very tolerant. The primate of the Anglican church is not at all against homosexuals, so what is your view of people with this orientation – do you believe they should at minimum have the right to civil unions and at maximum to marriages in the Ukrainian Church?

    Patriarch Sviatoslav: To my mind, the author of this question does not fully know my views on this matter and has not read my previous responses on this subject. I will attempt to answer this question expressing my views on this matter, then let the author of this question judge for himself whether I am a liberal or a conservative.

    In accordance with the teaching of the Church, homosexual behavior is a grave sin, which calls to heaven for vengeance. This is a group of very grave sins for which the Lord God Himself is the One Who repays. To these sins, which call out to God for vengeance, belongs also, for example, willful murder. In terms of gravity, the sin of homosexuality is comparable to that of murder. Therefore, if we are talking today about the right to have a homosexual “relationship,” then we must also talk about the right to murder. Therefore, we cannot talk about the right to sin, for that is a view, which is self-contradictory.

    Aside from that, Sacred Scripture succinctly and clearly condemns this type of behavior. For example, if the author of this question would read the first chapter of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans (he would see that) the Apostle Paul clearly states that people who live in this way dishonor their bodies and that this is a manifestation of their spiritual blindness.

    I don’t want to judge those persons; I am not against any person. But, I am against sin, just as the Church is against the sin, but is for the person, because the person who is living this type of life, who sins, is wounding and destroying himself.

    And, therefore, the Church is against the sin yet protects the person and his dignity.

  30. Monique permalink

    Also, there are many faithful Catholics who were most certainly NOT offended by the Bishop’s letter! Rather, it was a welcome, truthful defence for all who have been shut down and ignored for their opposing views.
    What of the children whose parents disagree? How will you protect their rights too? We deserve answers for that! And they are our children, by the way!! It is our inalienable right to guide them as WE see fit.

  31. Dan permalink

    Archbishop Smith has spoken. Patricia, it is time to repent (and apologize to Bishop Henry, apologize for your apology…) or resign.

  32. Lori permalink

    Patricia, I admire your courage, your compassion, and your support of providing safe schools for all students, including those who are transgender. I believe you are living out the teaching of the Gospel which is rooted in Love (the greatest of the faith, hope, and love triad) and modelled by Jesus as he identified, walked, and ate with the marginalized. I’m convinced that your work will save lives. Stay strong and know that you’re not alone.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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  4. Catholic parents question trustees over Calgary bishop’s ‘homophobic’ letter | Lokalee - Trusted Reviews & Ratings On Your Local Business Directory - USA - Canada
  5. Edmonton Catholic School Board to respond after sending out Calgary bishop’s letter | Globalnews.ca
  6. Paula Simons: Time for Edmonton Catholic trustees to put kids first | Edmonton Journal
  7. Edmonton blog roundup: Jan. 19, 2016 – Seen and Heard in Edmonton

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