VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis has accepted the early resignation of a Canadian bishop who came under fire in Calgary for opposing LGBTQ guidelines for public schools.
The Vatican’s one-sentence announcement Jan. 4 about Bishop Frederick Henry’s departure made no mention of the controversy in Canada. At 73, Henry is two years younger than the age at which bishops must offer the pope their resignation.
To replace Henry as head of the Calgary diocese, Francis named Monsignor William McGrattan. Currently serving as bishop in the diocese of Peterborough, McGrattan, who is 60, worked for several years as an engineer before being ordained a priest in 1987.
Last year, Henry was widely criticized for labeling as “anti-Catholic” and “totalitarian” Alberta province’s guidelines that include allowing transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice and to dress or play on sports teams according to their perception of gender.
On several occasions, Francis has lashed out at “gender theory,” including calling it a threat to marriage. He has also criticized schools he says indoctrinate children with the idea that gender can be chosen.
But in keeping with his emphasis on being merciful, and not being judgmental about people, he has also told reporters that he has ministered to transgender people while he was a priest and bishop in Argentina, and now as pontiff.
Last fall, he cited a letter he received from a Spanish transgender man who told him he later married a woman. Francis said he received the couple in an audience, and noted they were happy. Francis added he criticized the man’s parish priest who would yell “You’ll go to hell” whenever he saw the man in the street.