Bishop William McGrattan, who succeeded Bishop Fred Henry as the head of Calgary's diocese, at a welcome dinner Feb. 27. Victor Panlilio/Calgary Diocese

Calgary's new bishop William McGrattan meets his new flock

  • March 1, 2017

Bishop William McGrattan won’t pretend to be as “very bold” as his predecessor, but hopes to be just as steadfast as Bishop Fred Henry as he assumes leadership of Calgary’s diocese.

McGrattan met the press Feb. 27 prior to his first liturgy as Calgary’s new bishop — a ceremony at St. Mary’s Cathedral live streamed over the diocese’s web site and attended by about 1,000 faithful and 30 Canadian bishops. Reporters from Alberta’s media peppered McGrattan with all the hot-button issues that Henry never shied away from in his 19 years as bishop to 430,000 Catholics in southern Alberta.

Journalists wanted to know where the new bishop, formerly of Ontario’s Peterborough diocese, stood on gay-straight alliances in Catholic schools, provincial guidelines for accepting transgender students, and the prickly relationship Henry had with Calgary’s gay and lesbian community.

McGrattan stood by his admiration for his predecessor, but signalled a less combative style in his public pronouncements.

“(Bishop Henry) is a very bold bishop in terms of his statements and I’m sure he has created controversy,” McGrattan said. “I think he wants to be provocative, he wants to allow people to sort of understand the truth that might be at stake on some of these social issues. I might not be as direct, but I’ll be as firm, I think, sometimes.”

On gay-straight alliances, McGrattan expressed a preference for the terminology used to name the student clubs in Ontario Catholic schools — “Respecting Differences.”

McGrattan staked a claim to his own style.

“I would say I’m collaborative. I like to listen,” McGrattan said. “When called to be decisive, I will. And hopefully people will follow.”

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