What I’m actually referring to is the recent letter signed by a small percentage of University of Notre Dame faculty accusing Peoria, Ill., Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of “ignorance of history, insensitivity to victims of genocide, and absence of judgment,” and calling on him to resign from the Notre Dame Board of Fellows.
Sometimes you find people saying or doing things that can make you wonder if they made the right choice of career.
Yes, I know, dearest readers, that is probably what most of you wonder about me after reading my columns.
But let’s not bore ourselves to death by talking about me. What I’m actually referring to is the recent letter signed by a small percentage of University of Notre Dame faculty accusing Peoria, Ill., Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of “ignorance of history, insensitivity to victims of genocide, and absence of judgment,” and calling on him to resign from the Notre Dame Board of Fellows.
My reaction upon reading their letter was to wonder if those faculty members are teaching at the right school, or perhaps are simply in the wrong line of work.
What prompted their letter was Bishop Jenky’s April 14 homily at Mass during the Catholic Diocese of Peoria’s annual “Call to Catholic Men of Faith.” The faculty members complained that the bishop had “described President Obama as ‘seem[ing] intent on following a similar path’ to Hitler and Stalin.”
Many have objected to Bishop Jenky’s homily for, in their minds, unacceptably mixing politics and religion, because in so many words he told his flock that it would be a betrayal of the Catholic faith to vote for Barack Obama. He, of course, did not put it so explicitly, but that would be the clear logical implications of what he did say.
To these critics of the bishop’s homily, “separation of church and state” means religion must stay out of politics. In actuality, they only object to religious involvement in politics when it is politics or religion with which they disagree — hence the sound of crickets that we heard from their corner, instead of vehement protests, when Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, attended the ObamaCare signing.
They also don’t seem to complain when the state violates the church’s rights, such as the kind of violations that prompted Bishop Jenky’s forceful homily.
Many other critics of his homily, like these Notre Dame faculty members, have taken offense at the bishop’s words as if he had said that the “similar path” Obama is following is the path of brutal, monstrous tyranny and genocide.
This objection of theirs is one of the reasons I think they may have chosen the wrong career. University faculty are supposed to have the ability to read with understanding, and should know how to quote accurately and fairly. But these faculty ripped the bishop’s words out of context and distorted them. Here is what he really said:
“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, Bismarck waged his ‘Kulturkampf,’ 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.”
Page 2 of 2 - So, not the path trod by Hitler and Stalin, but the path trod by Bismarck, Clemenceau, Hitler and Stalin — that is, not the path of genocide and death camps, but the path of violation of the unalienable human right to religious freedom, specifically the right of faithful Catholics to obey their Lord’s commandments in Matthew 25.
Bishop Jenky didn’t say or imply that Obama is another Hitler and Stalin, nor did he mention the Holocaust. Rather, he warned of the trajectory of Obama’s policies, which fail the justice test of Catholic moral teaching.
Ironically, it is the faculty members’ letter that, in twisting his words, betrays ignorance of history, insensitivity to victims of genocide, and absence of judgment.
Community editor Jared Olar may be reached at 346-1111, ext. 660, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Pekin Daily Times.