CHICAGO — Joining the chorus of Roman Catholic clergy in Illinois criticizing President Barack Obama before next week’s election, Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky ordered priests to read a letter to parishioners on Sunday before the presidential election, explaining that politicians who support abortion rights also reject Jesus.
“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,” Jenky wrote in a letter circulated to clergy in the Catholic Diocese of Peoria.
In the letter, Jenky cautions parishioners that Obama and a majority of U.S. senators will not reconsider the mandate that would require employers, including religious groups, to provide free birth control coverage in their health care plans. “This assault upon our religious freedom is simply without precedent in the American political and legal system,” Jenky wrote.
“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,” Jenky added. “They are objectively guilty of grave sin.”
Earlier this year, Jenky delivered a controversial homily criticizing the contraception mandate. The bishop included Obama’s policies in a list of historic challenges the Catholic Church has overcome in previous centuries, including Hitler and Stalin’s campaigns.
Jenky is the third Illinois Catholic leader to offer pointed guidance for Catholic voters in recent weeks. Last month, Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki offered a commentary on the Democratic and Republican parties’ platforms that he said wasn’t intended as instruction, but guidance.
“There are many positive and beneficial planks in the Democratic Party Platform, but I am pointing out those that explicitly endorse intrinsic evils,” Paprocki explained in the Springfield Diocese newspaper.
“Again, I am not telling you which party or which candidates to vote for or against,” he said. “But I am saying that you need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”
Furthermore, in the Rockford Diocese, Vicar General Eric Barr compared Obama’s support of religious freedom in Muslim countries to his lack of support for Catholic liberty.
“Meanwhile, Obamacare marches on, steamrolling Catholic morality and the First Amendment under its weight. How can that be tolerated by citizens?” Barr wrote.
“Nothing justifies this peculiar and unreal stance of the president,” he said.
Spokeswoman Colleen Dolan said she doesn’t expect Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George to issue any statements before the election.