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Moral Coherence and Voting: Courageous Bishop Daniel Jenky Calls Catholic Citizens to Loyalty to the Lord First

By Deacon Keith Fournier
11/3/2012 (4 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

I therefore call upon every practicing Catholic in this Diocese to vote.

For those who hope for salvation, no political loyalty can ever take precedence over loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his Gospel of Life. God is not mocked, and as the Bible clearly teaches, after this passing instant of life on earth, God's great mercy in time will give way to God's perfect judgment in eternity.

Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C.
BISHOP OF PEORIA

Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C. BISHOP OF PEORIA

P>PEORIA, IL (Catholic Online) - On November 6, 2012, Americans head to polling places all over the Nation to vote. Along with Congressional contests and ballot initiatives, they will be asked to choose a President and Vice president. The choice is between Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan or Barack Obama and Joseph Biden. Oh, I know there are other options - but to vote for them is to eliminate the effect of your vote. 

U.S. Catholics can determine the outcome of this Presidential election. That is if we act in a manner which is, to use words of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "morally coherent".  That phrase was used in an instruction released in 2002 entitled a "Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life".

Here is an excerpt, "The social doctrine of the Church is not an intrusion into the government of individual countries. It is a question of the lay Catholic's duty to be morally coherent, found within one's conscience, which is one and indivisible. Living and acting in conformity with one's own conscience on questions of politics is not slavish acceptance of positions alien to politics or some kind of 'confessionalism', but rather the way in which Christians offer their concrete contribution so that, through political life, society will become more just and more consistent with the dignity of the human person."

The same congregation repeatedly addressed the primacy of the Right to Life. Here is one example:  "The first right of the human person is his life. He has other goods and some are more precious, but this one is fundamental - the condition of all the others. Hence it must be protected above all others. It does not belong to society, nor does it belong to public authority in any form to recognize this right for some and not for others" (Declaration on Procured Abortion (1974), no. 11. I)

To insist upon the fundamental Human Right to Life is not single issue politics. Human rights are goods of human persons. When there is no human person to exercise them all the rhetoric extolling them is sloganeering and sophistry.  Nor is our position only a matter of adherence to our "religious" beliefs. It is a response to the truth revealed by the Natural Law and confirmed by medical science. The Child in the womb is our neighbor. It is always and everywhere wrong to kill him or her through procured abortion.

So too with our obligation to defend Marriage and the family and society founded upon it. Marriage is the preeminent and the most fundamental of all human social institutions. It is a relationship defined by nature and protected by the natural law that binds all men and women. It finds its foundation in the order of creation. Civil institutions do not create marriage nor can they create a "right" to marry for those who are incapable of marriage. The institutions of government should, when acting properly, defend marriage against those who would redefine it.

Government has long regulated marriage for the common good. The ban on polygamy and age requirements were enforced in order to ensure that there was a mature decision at the basis of the Marriage contract. Heterosexual marriage, procreation, and the nurturing of children form the foundation for the family, and the family forms the foundation of civil society.

To "limit" marriage to heterosexual couples is not discriminatory now, nor has it ever been. Homosexual couples cannot bring into existence what marriage intends by its very definition. To now "confer" the benefits that have been conferred in the past only to stable married couples and families to homosexual paramours is bad public policy.

We are living under what Pope Benedict XVI called a "Dictatorship of Relativism" in the West. When there is a wholesale effort to deny the existence of anything objectively true which can be known by all and form the basis of our common life, then there is no real freedom. Instead, we teeter on the brink of anarchy. On January 19, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the Bishops of Region IV in the United States gathered in Rome for their ad limina visit.

He warned them of a "radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres". He told them that the "seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion."

The pope's  admonition to defend religious freedom came the day before Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, issued a mandate requiring all employers, including Catholic and other religious employers, to cover sterilization, abortion inducing drugs, and contraception in their health care plans. The purported "accommodation" offered later is a sham. Anyone who denies this, even a sitting Vice President at a recent debate, is lying.

One of the silver linings in the cloud is the way that it has elicited courageous leadership from many Catholic Bishops. Among them is Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois. He gave a homily on April 14, 2012, at a Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral during the annual "Call to Catholic Men of Faith" event which showed great heroism. It also provoked a strong reaction.

Over 500 men marched through downtown Peoria bearing witness to the ancient but ever new Catholic faith. In his homily the Bishop reflected on the readings of the day for the Liturgy. The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 4: 13-21), recounted the hostility faced by Peter, the first Pope, and the beloved disciple, John, as they exercised their apostolic ministry in another culture which had grown hostile to the Church and her message of genuine liberation. Peter and John left an example which has been followed for over two millennia whenever the Church faces open hostility from the State.

It is in this account that we find these often quoted words: "So they called them back and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, "Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard."

The Gospel of the day was from St Mark's gospel (Mk 16: 9-15). Jesus told the believers to "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature." The Apostles did just what the Lord said and they turned the world of their age upside down (Acts 17:6). So too have their successors, like Bishop Jenky of Peoria. He told the men "We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead be Catholics by conviction."  

That outstanding homily was quoted in piecemeal fashion and became fodder for those who simply o not want Catholic Bishops to exhibit a backbone. Threats were made against the non-profit status of the Diocese, simply because the bishop had the courage to speak the truth. Groups such as "People for the American Way" (a misnomer), who produced the video clip with which this article is published, were incensed over the courageous way in which the Bishop addressed the faithful. We offered the entire homily in an article entitled "The Courage of Bishop Daniel Jenky: Catholics by Conviction!"

The Bishop told the men "it has never been easy to be a Christian and it's not supposed to be easy! The world, the flesh, and the devil will always love their own, and will always hate us. As Jesus once predicted, they hated me, they will certainly hate you. But our Faith, when it is fully lived, is a fighting faith and a fearless faith. Grounded in the power of the resurrection, there is nothing in this world, and nothing in hell, that can ultimately defeat God's one, true, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church."

I now offer a letter from this good Bishop which was sent to all of his priests to be read at all of the parishes in his Diocese the weekend before the election. It is causing quite a stir among those who do not know how to deal with Bishops who demonstrate such backbone. His unapologetic exercise of episcopal authority irks many in the media. It is also upsetting some dissenting Catholics. It is not only proper, it is timely and refreshing.

His willingness to make the following statement, "Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as their Lord. They are objectively guilty of grave sin", is similarly refreshing - and inspiring.

Bishop Jenky needs our prayer. He deserves our deep respect and appreciation.  His detractors better get used to courageous Bishops - they are multiplying at the beginning of the Third millennium in much the same way they did at the beginning of the First Millennium. His call to heroic Catholicism - to be Catholics by conviction - has application in the voting booth.

*****
Most Rev. Daniel Jenky, C.S.C.
OFFICE OF THE BISHOP
DIOCESE OF PEORIA

By virtue of your vow of obedience to me as your Bishop, I require that this letter be personally read by each celebrating priest at each Weekend Mass, November 3/4.

Dear Catholic Believers,

Since the foundation of the American Republic and the adoption of the Bill of Rights, I do not think there has ever been a time more threatening to our religious liberty than the present.

Neither the president of the United States nor the current majority of the Federal Senate have been willing to even consider the Catholic community's grave objections to those HHS mandates that would require all Catholic institutions, exempting only our church buildings, to fund abortion, sterilization, and artificial contraception.

This assault upon our religious freedom is simply without precedent in the American political and legal system. Contrary to the guarantees embedded in the First Amendment, the HHS mandates attempt to now narrowly define - and thereby drastically limit - our traditional religious works.

They grossly and intentionally intrude upon the deeply held moral convictions that have always guided our Catholic schools, hospitals, and other apostolic ministries. 

Nearly two thousand years ago, after our Savior had been bound, beaten, scourged, mocked, and crowned with thorns, a pagan Roman Procurator displayed Jesus to a hostile crowd by sarcastically declaring: Behold your King. The mob roared back: We have no king but Caesar.

Today, Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as their Lord. They are objectively guilty of grave sin.

For those who hope for salvation, no political loyalty can ever take precedence over loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his Gospel of Life. God is not mocked, and as the Bible clearly teaches, after this passing instant of life on earth, God's great mercy in time will give way to God's perfect judgment in eternity.

I therefore call upon every practicing Catholic in this Diocese to vote. Be faithful to Christ and to your Catholic Faith. May God guide and protect his Holy Church, and may God bless America.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C.
BISHOP OF PEORIA

---


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