Commonweal is unhappy with Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, who gave a talk to a Catholic men’s group calling them to defend the Church, citing Obamacare as an example of an attack on the Church

The offending remarks are:

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, 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.

One of the chronic problems in Christianity is how to get or keep men attached to the church. One way is to awaken the protective instinct in men. Men who perhaps care little for religion, which they leave to priests, women, and children, will nonetheless rally to the defense of their community when they feel it is threatened, like the Irish toughs who fought the Know-Nothings.

Knights were among the first to do respond to this appeal. They often behaved liked murderous thugs, but responded to the call to reconquer the Holy Land and defend Christianity against the Moors. The clergy had tried to control knightly violence, without much success, and decided to send them off somewhere far away to fight the infidel. At least it made life easier for the long-suffering peasantry at home. But the results of the Crusades were not good, because crusaders  too often forgot to behave like Christians as well as warriors.

Jenky is not really comparing Obama to Hitler and Stalin, but he is correct is that all three seemed to regard religion as something that occurred in the sanctuary, and only in the sanctuary. Stalin never tried to change the Orthodox liturgy or doctrine; therefore he claimed that the USSR had freedom of religion. Liberal secularists and totalitarians seem to share a common definition of religion, a definition with which Catholics and almost all Christians would disagree. Charitable works are not extraneous to the Gospel; they are part of the Gospel.

Could anticlericalism in the U.S. ever become as aggressive as it did in Europe?

I tend to doubt it, but constant government pressure for churches to change their attitudes might have the same effect – a soft totalitarianism, and I think this is what Jenky fears.

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