Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria this week compared pro-choice politicians to the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, who oversaw the execution of Jesus of Nazareth.
In a letter sent to area Catholics, Jenky said there was nothing more threatening to religious liberty than President Barack Obama and Democrats in the Senate because they supported a new Health & Human Services Department rule that requires most employers to provide free birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.
Churches and some other religious institutions are exempt from the rule. However, critics of the so-called contraception mandate claim that requiring Catholic employers to provide health insurance plans to that cover contraception for women is an infringement on religious liberties.
"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,'" Jenky wrote, referring to Pontius Pilate. "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."
Though he did not mention any politicians by name, the bishop appeared to be alluding to Catholic Democrats like Vice President Joe Biden, who support a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy.
Jenky made headlines around the nation earlier this year after he compared Obama to Hitler and Stalin. The bishop said that Obama was “intent on following a similar path” of the two mass-murderers and that his “radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda” threatened the First Amendment rights of Catholics. He added that “every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences.”
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has filed a complaint with the IRS over the comments, noting that the Internal Revenue Code prohibits churches from intervening in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate.
“What we’re seeing from Bishop Jenky is shocking, but sadly not surprising,” James Salt of Catholics United said in response to Jenky's latest remarks. “The good bishop forgets we no longer live in a theocracy. For the sake of his flock and his IRS status, he would be well advised to cease using the pulpits of his diocese for partisan proclamations.”
Salt, the executive director of the left-leaning Catholic group, added that Jenky seemed "more interested in following the paths of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson than the Gospel of Jesus Christ."