.- Politicians who consider themselves Catholic but collaborate in âthe assault against their faithâ should remember they will one day have to give account for their acts before God, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois said Feb 10.
âThere is a last judgment. There is a particular judgment. May they change their minds and may God have mercy on them,â he told CNA during his visit to Rome.
When asked specifically about recent actions of Democratic Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius Kathleen Sebelius and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Bishop Jenky replied âI am utterly scandalized.â
âThe Lord once said âif you deny me at the end, I will deny you,â this from our most merciful, good Savior. And so if it is a choice between Jesus Christ and political power or getting favorable editorials in leftist papers, well, thatâs simply not a choice.â
Both Sebelius and Rep. Pelosi have been at the forefront of attempts to force Catholic institutions to cover contraception, sterilizations and abortifacients as part of their staffâs health insurance plans.
Bishop Jenky said there are too many Catholic politicians in the U.S. who âlike to wear green sweaters on St. Patrickâs Day and marchâ or âhave their pictures taken with the hierarchyâ or âhave conspicuous crosses on their forehead with ashesâ but who then ânot only do not live their faith they collaborate in the assault against their faith.â
The 64-year-old Chicago native is currently making his âad liminaâ visit to Rome to discuss the state of his diocese with the Pope and the Vatican. He is part of a larger episcopal delegation from the states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Bishop Jenky said the issue of religious freedom in the United States has featured in all their meetings so far, including their audience with Pope Benedict XVI Feb. 9.
âDetermined secularists see the Catholic Church as the largest institutional block to a completely secularized society and not for the first, and probably not for the last time, weâre under assault,â he said drawing parallels with the anti-Catholic âKulturkampfâ in late 19th century Germany or the anti-clerical laws in France in the early 20th century.
âI am a Holy Cross religious and my own community had six colleges in France and they turned our mother house chapel into a stable,â he said. As for the United States in 2012, âit is always difficult to predict the future but the intensity of hatred against Catholic Christianity in elements of our culture is just astounding.â
He believes the present White House administration is also motivated by a âdetermined secularism,â while Communist dictator Joseph Stalin would âadmire the uniformity of the American press, with some exceptions.â
In 2010 the Illinois legislature voted to legalize same-sex civil unions, a move which led to the closure of Catholic foster care services. This, said the bishop, took the Church âentirely out of the work that we started when the State of Illinois could not have cared less about beggar kids running up and down the streets.â
Bishop Jenky is very conscious of this patrimony of Catholic schools, hospitals and other social services âbuilt by the sacrifice of Catholic believersâ in previous generations of Illinois Catholics. âThere werenât a lot of multi-millionaires who built the churches, opened those orphanages or built those schools,â he said.
The bishop fears that socially liberal elites ultimately want to secularize such institutions by stealth. âI assume that is the underlying goal,â he suggested, âso that is robbing Christ but it is also robbing the heritage of generations of believers. So we would try to resist this in every way possible. It would be an incredible injustice.â
In conversation, he quoted the stark 2010 prediction of Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, âI will die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.â So is Bishop Jenky prepared for prison or worse?
âI hope I would always prefer Christ to anything so, if it came to it, yes but I would be one of the trembling martyrs.â
He recalled how in ancient Rome some Christians would run towards their martyrdom. He, on the other hand, would âprobably be walking down the Forum with eyes downcast a little.â
âI think most of the bishops of our Church, though, would be faithful to Christ above anything, including our own personal freedom.â