For the past week I have been reading how in his “homily” last week, Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky went on a tirade against President Obama, comparing him with Hitler and Stalin; describing him in terms of supporting “intrinsic evil.” Rather than describe what he said, I’ll quote it:
You know, it has never been easy to be a Christian and it’s not supposed to be easy! The world, the flesh, and the devil will always love their own, and will always hate us. As Jesus once predicted, they hated me, they will certainly hate you.
But our Faith, when it is fully lived, is a fighting faith and a fearless faith. Grounded in the power of the resurrection, there is nothing in this world, and nothing in hell, that can ultimately defeat God’s one, true, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
For 2,000 years the enemies of Christ have certainly tried their best. But think about it. The Church survived and even flourished during centuries of terrible persecution, during the days of the Roman Empire.
The Church survived barbarian invasions. The Church survived wave after wave of Jihads. The Church survived the age of revolution. The Church survived Nazism and Communism.
And in the power of the resurrection, the Church will survive the hatred of Hollywood, the malice of the media, and the mendacious wickedness of the abortion industry.
The Church will survive the entrenched corruption and sheer incompetence of our Illinois state government, and even the calculated disdain of the President of the United States, his appointed bureaucrats in HHS, and of the current majority of the federal Senate.
May God have mercy on the souls of those politicians who pretend to be Catholic in church, but in their public lives, rather like Judas Iscariot, betray Jesus Christ by how they vote and how they willingly cooperate with intrinsic evil.
As Christians we must love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but as Christians we must also stand up for what we believe and always be ready to fight for the Faith. The days in which we live now require heroic Catholicism, not casual Catholicism. We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead be Catholics by conviction.
In our own families, in our parishes, where we live and where we work – like that very first apostolic generation – we must be bold witnesses to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We must be a fearless army of Catholic men, ready to give everything we have for the Lord, who gave everything for our salvation.
Remember that in past history other governments have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches like the first disciples locked up in the Upper Room.
In the late 19th century, Bismark waged his “Kultur Kamp,” a Culture War, against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany.
Clemenceau, nicknamed “the priest eater,” tried the same thing in France in the first decade of the 20th Century.
Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care.
In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama – with his radical, pro abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.
Now things have come to such a pass in America that this is a battle that we could lose, but before the awesome judgement seat of Almighty God this is not a war where any believing Catholic may remain neutral.
This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries — only excepting our church buildings – could easily be shut down. Because no Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the instrinsic evil of killing innocent human life in the womb.
No Catholic ministry – and yes, Mr. President, for Catholics our schools and hospitals are ministries – can remain faithful to the Lordship of the Risen Christ and to his glorious Gospel of Life if they are forced to pay for abortions.
I could criticize this on numerous levels, but this blog will focus on one issue. The Roman Catholic Church is a tax-exempt organization. As such, while it can take positions on public policy issues - and can voice its opposition to abortion — it can not, under Federal law — take positions on elections. It can not endorse or reject candidates; it can not tell its members how to vote. In return for that, it gets tax exemption. It does not have to pay property taxes on its facilities. Properties worth millions of dollars.
Yet, when the Bishop describes the President, in an election year, as embodying intrinsic evil; when the Bishop compares him with two of the individuals who most reflect global condemnation in terms of evil; when the Bishop tells the faithful that THEY must vote this fall; as the entire fate of the Church is at stake; when he does these things, he is unequivocally making it crystal clear that they should NOT vote for President Obama.
It is therefore altogether appropriate that Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a complaint with the IRS for the Diocese’ violation of its non-profit status. But it is not just the Diocese, at least one parish in the diocese — Epiphany Roman Catholic Church of Normal (perhaps the most reactionary conservative Catholic church I have ever encountered) — has the full text of the homily on the front page of its website; it has it reproduced in this Sunday’s bulletin. The Church is drawing a battle line. And in doing so, it has crossed the line of violating federal law.
The Roman Catholic Church, through its hierarchy (and really not through most of its members) has become a reactionary force of conservatism. That is its choice. But when it violates Federal laws; and when it tells its faithful how to vote; it has joined the Religious Right — and it can not be allowed to continue to benefit from one of the benefits that society vests upon non-profit organizations — tax exemptions.
This Bishop has been engaged in similar tactics for a long time; and when the Bishop uses vile rhetoric as he has, he is no different than the Rev. Fred Phelps, of the infamous Westborough “God Hate Fags” Baptist church.
Yesterday, the Diocese claimed that the Bishop’s homily was taken out of context; but I say re-read what I posted above. — There is nothing taken out of context. It is crystal clear. He has crossed a line; and must be made accountable. That might come from the government (I doubt it); it may more likely come from Catholics who speak with their wallets. I’d urge any Catholic in the Diocese of Peoria to put in a note in the collection basket saying “Bishop Jenky must apologize” instead of a check.
And in the meantime, maybe the Bishop should spend some time with the Bible. I’d suggest he start with John 13:34. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
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