Illinois bishop's election message criticizes Obama


Share
Originally Posted Online: Nov. 02, 2012, 11:46 am
Last Updated: Nov. 02, 2012, 12:34 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois bishop's order to priests in his diocese to read a letter from the pulpit this weekend critical of President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats is drawing charges from a liberal group that he may be jeopardizing his church's tax-exempt status.

Catholic Diocese of Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky's letter says the president and the current majority in the U.S. Senate have been unwilling to consider Catholic objections to a requirement that insurance companies provide birth control to employees of religious organizations.

The letter says voters who enable "the destruction of innocent human life in the womb" are "guilty of grave sin." Jenky instructed priests to read it at every Mass over the weekend.

The liberal advocacy group Catholics United issued a statement saying the letter amounts to a violation of IRS guidelines. But diocese chancellor Patricia Gibson said the letter doesn't violate IRS restrictions because it doesn't mention any candidate by name — referring to Obama only as "the president" — or instruct anyone how to vote.

"He basically gives guidelines in his own mind on how things should be evaluated, leaving it up to each person how to vote," Gibson said. "I don't agree this is a violation of IRS guidelines. I think it's pretty typical" of what religious leaders say during an election year.

The IRS determines whether a church has violated its tax-exempt status. Churches are allowed to engage in a wide range of political activities, but cannot endorse a candidate or engage in outright partisan activity. The IRS has rarely revoked a church's nonprofit status.

Jenky's letter reads in part: "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 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) mandates that would require all Catholic institutions, exempting only our church buildings, to fund abortion, sterilization, and artificial contraception."

The letter continues: "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."

The letter concludes by calling on practicing Catholics in the Peoria diocese to vote and to be "faithful to Christ and to your Catholic Faith."

Jenky drew criticism earlier this year for likening Obama's infringement on religious freedom to acts of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. The diocese said at the time that Jenky was defending religious freedom and his statement had been distorted and misunderstood. His comparison, according to a diocese spokeswoman, was meant to prevent a repetition of historical attacks on the Catholic Church and other religions.

Jenky also is known for leading a long campaign to see the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen, a central Illinois native, made a saint.














 



Local events heading








  Today is Thursday, April 24, the 114th day of 2014. There are 251 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: We learn that it is a contemplation to start a paper mill in Rock Island during the summer by a gentleman from the East.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The gates of Oklahoma were swung open at noon today, and a throng of more than 30,000 settlers started over its soil.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Iowa Coliseum Co. was incorporated with $40,000 capital and planned a building on 4th Street between Warren and Green streets in Davenport.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans are being discussed for resurfacing the streets in the entire downtown district of Rock Island.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Some 45 jobs will be created at J.I. Case Co.'s Rock Island plant in a expansion of operations announced yesterday afternoon at the firm's headquarters in Racine, Wis.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Gardeners and farmers cheered, but not all Quad-Citians found joy Saturday as more than an inch of rain fell on the area. Motorists faced dangerous, rain-slick roads as the water activated grease and grime that had built up during dry weather.








(More History)