Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois, told the 500 men who attended the diocese’s annual men’s march and Mass in April that “the days in which we live now require heroic Catholicism, not casual Catholicism.”
“We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead [must] be Catholics by conviction,” Jenky said. “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.”
Noting that “the world, the flesh, and the devil will always love their own, and will always hate us,” Bishop Jenky then used powerful words, preaching:
“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,” he continued.
After referring to Otto von Bismarck’s Kulturkampf and the persecution of the Church in France in the early 20th century, Bishop Jenky said that “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 judgment seat of Almighty God this is not a war where any believing Catholic may remain neutral,” he continued, adding:
“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 intrinsic 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.”
Bishop Jenky concluded: “The Risen Christ is our Eternal Lord; the Head of his Body, the Church; our High Priest; our Teacher; our Captain in the well-fought fight. We have nothing to fear, but we have a world to win for him. We have nothing to fear, for we have an eternal destiny in heaven.
“We have nothing to fear, though the earth may quake, kingdoms may rise and fall, demons may rage, but St. Michael the Archangel, and all the hosts of heaven, fight on our behalf. No matter what happens in this passing moment, at the end of time and history, our God is God and Jesus is Lord, forever and ever.
“Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat! Christ wins! Christ reigns! Christ commands!”
Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami also entered the fray with an article in the Miami Herald on April 23. Efforts to restrict religious liberty break with American traditions and seek to “delegitimize” the Catholic Church’s participation in public debate, he wrote.
“America’s ‘first freedom,’ the freedom of religion, is under great stress if not under outright assault — and not just for Catholics,” Archbishop Wenski wrote.
The fundamental issue in the mandate debate is “whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception or sterilization, even if that violates their religious beliefs,” he wrote.
“The Church cannot not oppose this unjust (and we believe unconstitutional) mandate,” he said.
He said the Catholic bishops will seek remedies from both Congress and the courts “rather than facing the shuttering of our schools, universities and hospitals by the federal government.”