January 4, 2017 10:50 am
Updated: January 4, 2017 7:54 pm

Pope accepts resignation of Alberta bishop who opposed LGBTQ school rules

WATCH ABOVE: Calgary Bishop Fred Henry said Wednesday he’s resigning after 19 years on the job. He cited a painful arthritic condition as the principle reason for his decision. David Boushy reports.

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VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has accepted the early resignation of a Calgary bishop who came under fire for opposing LGBTQ guidelines for public schools.

The Vatican’s announcement about Bishop Frederick Henry’s stepping down made no mention of the controversy in Canada.

In a resignation letter posted online on Jan. 3, F.B. Henry stated the principle reason for his retirement was his medical condition.

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“I suffer from a type of arthritis known ankylosing spondylitis for which there is no cure. AS is also an autoimmune disease meaning that the body’s immune system becomes confused and begins to “attack” the body,” Henry stated. “In AS, the joints in the spine are the target of the immune attack resulting in pain and stiffness (inflammation) in the neck and back.”

Henry believes “someone younger with more energy, stamina and pastoral vision should take over his role 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. I would like to propose that my retirement take place effective Dec. 31, 2016,” Henry stated.

READ MORE: Alberta’s Catholic bishops speak out on student-led gay-straight alliances

At 73, Henry is two years younger than the age bishops must offer the pope their resignation.

Last year, Henry was widely criticized for labelling “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.

READ MORE: Gay-straight alliances given thumbs-up by Calgary students

Henry has criticized schools he says indoctrinate children with the idea gender can be chosen.

But he has also revealed he has ministered to transgender persons and has criticized clergy who condemn them.

In a blog post, Archbishop Richard W. Smith wrote a thank you note about the history of Henry’s time as Bishop.

“Of particular note is the outstanding contribution he has made in the field of Catholic education in both Alberta and across the country. I consider it a blessing and privilege to have worked closely with Bishop Henry, from whom I have learned a great deal,” he wrote.

With files from Global News

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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