Hitler, Stalin and Obama? Illinois Bishop unleashes shrill partisan attack
Is President Barack Obama following in the footsteps of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin?
One man in Illinois thinks so. Must be some militia extremist or a Tea Party wingnut, right?
Nope. It’s Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel R. Jenky. In an April 14 screed at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, Jenky blasted Obama and his policies in truly outrageous fashion.
Said the bishop, “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,” he continued, “Barack Obama – with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.”
Jenky falsely claims that Catholic schools, hospitals and other ministries are being forced to pay for abortions through the Obama health-care reform and will have to close rather than do so.
The Catholic hierarchy has been complaining about Obama administration policies for months now, but Jenky carried the rhetoric to new extremes.
Addressing a Catholic men’s group, he said, “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,” he continued, “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…. We must be a fearless army of Catholic men, ready to give everything we have for the Lord, who gave everything for our salvation.”
Although the Catholic Church is a tax-exempt institution whose own lawyers say it must be non-partisan, Jenky called for Catholics to form a voting bloc in November.
“Now things have come to such a pass in America,” the bishop said, “that this is a battle that we could lose, but before the awesome judgment 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.”
Jenky’s diatribe is a disgraceful distortion of reality and a divisive call to arms that strikes at the very heart of our way of life. America welcomes some 2,000 different denominations and faith traditions, as well as millions of people who follow no spiritual path at all. If politics devolves into bitter sectarian conflict, our inclusive and pluralistic democratic polity is endangered.
Most Catholics, like most Americans, reject injudicious religious intervention in political life, and I’m sure they will repudiate Jenky’s rant. He’s way out of line, and his colleagues in the Catholic hierarchy need to tell him so.