An Illinois Roman Catholic bishop Daniel Jenky, has come under criticism after he said, in a message at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria, that President Barack Obama is on "a similar path" as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
According to Right Wing Watch, Bishop Jenky of Peoria, in a Sunday address, said Obama's "radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda" violates the First Amendment and proves that Obama was bent on "following a similar path as Hitler and Stalin."
MSNBC reports Jenky said Obama's policy places Catholic social services at risk of elimination. He 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." According to MSNBC, he pointed to Otto von Bismark's "culture war against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany." He added: “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." He continued: "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.”
In Jenky's opinion, American Catholics are fighting a "war" over Obama administration's position on birth control and similar issues. Jenky said: "May God have mercy especially 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."
Huffington Post reports the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria has attempted to clarify Jenky's statement after the uproar it caused. Patricia Gibson, Peoria Diocese chancellor, told Chicago Tribune: "Based upon the current government's threatened infringement upon the Church's religious exercise of its ministry, Bishop Jenky offered historical context and comparisons as a means to prevent a repetition of historical attacks upon the Catholic Church and other religions."
But Huffington Post reports Rabbi Daniel Bogard of Peoria's Anshai Emeth congregation, told Peoria Journal-Star that Jenky's statement was inappropriate. He said: "...casual use of the Holocaust and tragedy in general is really inappropriate. It's demagoguery. These are very serious things. The Holocaust is not his to use."
According to MSNBC, the Anti-Defamation League has demanded an apology from Jenky. According to League Regional Director Lonnie Nasatir, Jenky "needs a history lesson." Nasatir said the bishop's homily trivialized the deaths of six million Jews in the Holocaust. He said there are hardly any historical parallels to "the religious intolerance and antisemitism fostered in society by Stalin, and especially Hitler."
Huffington Post compares Jenky's comments to previous remarks by Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Francis George on Obama administration's birth control mandate. George had said that with Obama's policy, the church "would be stripped of the institutions that are her instrument for public service."
Obama administration's birth control policy required that employers cover the birth control costs of women under their employment. When some religious institutions kicked against this, the Obama administration announced an "accommodation" that passes the cost of contraception coverage to health insurance companies in the event that a religious institution objects.