Pro-life group loses Calgary bishop’s support

  • May 1, 2007
{mosimage}Calgary Bishop Fred Henry has withdrawn his support from the Calgary-based Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform.
Henry opposes its Genocide Awareness Project display, a travelling exhibit of graphically explicit photos which compares abortion to historically recognized forms of genocide.

The letter withdrawing support came after Stephanie Gray, director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, asked Henry to clarify his position on the GAP campaign.  

The centre is an educational pro-life organization "whose mission is to make abortion unthinkable," according to the centre's web site. It "conveys the plight of the unborn through visual displays and trains people how to articulate a scientific and philosophical defence for the position against abortion."

In his letter Henry states: "GAP in its usage of pictures of aborted children violates their human dignity, denies human remains the respect that inherently must be accorded them and reduces them to things, albeit, for an arguably good reason. The end, however, does not justify the means."  

"Those are very serious charges (but) they shouldn't be charges toward us but the people who are involved with the action of abortion," said Gray. "The guilt lies with the indifferent."

Gray posted responses to the bishop's letter on the organization's web site

In the letter to Gray, dated Feb. 14, Henry said he didn't agree that abortion can be compared to historical acts of genocide. He said he will circulate this letter to the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic school boards and parishes in the diocese.

Gray said Henry told her she is not banned from operating in the diocese, but it will be up to the individual whether they choose to support the organization.

"We will certainly carry on, the reason being we believe there's good reason for this approach," said Gray, who explained that while she's Catholic, the organization is   non-sectarian and works with people of all faiths and no faith.

"There's nothing wrong with using graphic imagery of injustice to peak peoples' interest about that injustice," said Gray.    

Gray argues using graphic images to get a message across is no different than the graphic vision of hell Mother Mary showed the children at Fatima or the Catholic Church's use of the crucifix.

"It's a bloody reminder of the sacrifice that Christ made for us."

Henry disagrees. "I think you would accomplish more if you showed a picture of a human child in the womb of the mother."    

Unless the centre disassociates from the GAP display Henry refuses to support it.

"The project is misguided, it's offensive and I don't think one should be using this kind of means to achieve an end," said Henry.

"She's tried to respond but I don't think she's done so effectively," said Henry. "I said (to her) I admire you, but in this one you are wrong."  

Henry said he doesn't want to start a long-standing debate on the issue and feels his letter clearly expresses his unchanging position.

Henry also opposes the Reproductive Choice Campaign Gray plans to launch. This involves graphic images of aborted babies with the word "choice" posted on the side of a   truck, which will be driven around Calgary.

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