Bishop: “We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but must be Catholics by conviction”


“Heroic Catholicism, not casual Catholicism” is required to confront state and federal threats to religious liberty and the church’s public ministries, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, told more than 500 Catholic men who marched through the downtown Peoria in a steady rain April 14 in a public defense of the faith.

“We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead be Catholics by conviction,” said Bishop Jenky.

He warned participants in the “A Call to Catholic Men of Faith” rally that Catholic schools, hospitals, and Newman Centers “could easily be shut down” by the fall of 2013 rather than cooperate with the government’s mandate that most health plans cover the cost of contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can induce abortion.

“No Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the intrinsic evil of killling innocent human life in the womb,” the bishop said.

After joining the men on a silent, mile-long walk from the Peoria riverfront to St. Mary’s Cathedral, Bishop Jenky used some of the strongest language yet by a church official in protesting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate. (See full text of the homily here.)

The bishop mentioned President Barack Obama three times in his homily at the rally Mass.

“In clear violation of our First Amendment rights,” said Bishop Jenky, “Barack Obama with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda now seems intent on following a similar path” as other governments throughout history who “have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches.”

Read more.


  1. ron chandonia says:

    This hysterical and partisan outburst will no doubt please traditionalist Catholics who want to see the Church Militant revived in all its triumphal glory. But it hardly fosters the kind of dialogue with the secular world that servant-leaders of the People of God ought to be promoting. Up til now, Bishop Jenky has been best known for his protest against a local sports bar that called itself Hail Mary’s. He should have stayed in his element.

  2. Golly, talk about an “hysterical and partisan outburst”…

  3. Dialogue? You want “dialogue?” Well that involves honest talk and sometimes after all the “dialogue” you have to say, OK, there is where we stand, and beyond this point we are not going to cooperate — or “dialogue” anymore — with evil.

    Incidentally, what did the Bishop say that is objectively not true?

  4. Seems to me that the bishops have been “dialoguing” for decades now. But dialogue is a two-way street. If the “partner” in a dialogue refuses to listen, where does that leave one? I’m sure that if Martin Luther King had merely “dialogued” with society, we’d still have segregation. If Gandhi had merely “dialogued” India would probably still be a colony.

  5. It’s hard to fathom that an actual administration is putting us to the test as Catholics. It’s hard enough dealing with the secualr world at large. Now we are being asked to renounce principles of conscience not by an amorphous secualizing culture, but by specific legislation from our elected officials. This is just an outrage. Kudos to the Bishop for gathering us into a fighting voice.

  6. Dialogue? We tried dialogue and President Obama directly lied to our bishops and specifically to Dolan’s face. There cannot be any meaningful dialogue with this administration.

  7. There are varieties of heroism. I prefer that of Francis of Assisi, who braved physical danger to travel to meet the Sultan where he was and engage him in conversation. Did it work? Not in the world’s eyes. I can see the appeal of launching missiles from a distance and demonizing the opponent, and I understand that many would call that heroism; it’s just not my definition. We all have to find ways to live and witness to our faith in this world, as Christians have always had to do, and those ways will always involve the danger of having our message and our actions co-opted. It’s not easy, and I will pray for Bishop Jenky as I pray for Cardinal Dolan and for the President and for all of us. Not for nothing did Jesus caution us to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

  8. While the bishop may sound hysterical and partisan, he is speaking from the middle of the battle. Within the last month Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Peoria was shut down. The State of Illiniois (as led by our Catholic/Democrat Attorney’s General, Lisa Madigan) stated that Catholic Charities engaged in discrimination against gay and unmarried straight couples by refusing to license them as foster parents.

    When the state approved same sex partnerships, our elected reps were told that the new law would not interfer with the rights of the Church. Once it was signed in though, our State’s Attorney stated that the Church engaged in discrimination.

    As a Catholic in Illinois I feel angry and betrayed by our state government. As a newly ex-Democrat I feel even more betrayed. It looks like the Democrats at the Federal level are thinking like Illinois Democrats.

  9. Bill McGeveran says:

    I agree religious freedom is important, and Catholics and non-Catholics alike should generally be opposed to a law, or administrative rule, that requires a religious institution to participate in activities that violate official church teaching, including adoptions by gay couples (though I don’t know that this is harmful), use of abortifacients, even contraception (though that does not violate the conscience of most individual Catholics). It doesn’t mean preventing people from doing these things if they so decide. Seems to me like overreaching by the government. Still, to speak of a war on religion—or a war on women—strikes me as hyperbole. I don’t even see that the HHS mandate re contraception, as modified, clearly amounts to requiring institutions to cooperate with the choices and actions of people who use insurance. … Let the church test the murky bounds of religious freedom in court and-or negotiate with the administration to, e.g., try and exclude abortifacients from the mandate. Let the church hierarchy go on record as opposing certain policies. But all in all, I think there is too much muscle flexing on both sides. And now we are being told that being a “conviction” Catholic requires us to literally march to the tune of bishop’s perhaps narrow social priorities and rally in lockstep under a banner as “men of faith.” I don’t think it is the way to go.

  10. Bill McGeveran says:

    Or that is to say, bishops’…

  11. Tony de New York says:

    Is about time that we Catholics take our faith seriously.

  12. God bless this Successor of the Apostles for his courage, his _authentic_ (not false!) love, and his fidelity. Kudos to him and to his flock for their stand. He is assured of our prayers and support! May all have a blessed remainder of Eastertide! Christ is truly risen! David, in Australia.

  13. Chuck Murphy says:

    The bishops are playing politics and have put the American Catholic Church up for bids with Cardinal Timothy Cardinal Michael Cardinal Dolan trotting around the media circuit with a sad story of religious persecution while sleeping on silk sheets and wearing moire with lace. He makes a mockery of the witness of Jesus Christ. Dolan, via “Bully” Billy Donahue, is being played for a sap. Har, har, har, Eminence.

  14. Nah Chuck, I have to disagree. I think the Bishops are finally finished playing politics and might finally be ready to start playing Bishops!

  15. tom in Ohio says:

    Good to see that a lot of different kind of people read this blog. To those who oppose this more vigorous approach, may I ask, would it ever be appropriate for Catholics, more specifically for the bishops, to oppose the government? Where is the line?

    I would bet that those Catholic who oppose the bishops here also oppose them (and the popes) on a myriad of other issues, most of them having to do with human life and human sexuality. One hears their claim to be “the loyal opposition” and wonders. Nothing about that, about being part of a Church so I can constantly oppose its leadership, would have attracted me to the Church. That sort of thing would not have drawn me to the Church. I became Catholic in 2000, and I did so at no insignificant cost to my career.

    I just don’t get it with always being opposed. If I am always right and the bishops always wrong, how is there any “obedience of faith” to which St. Paul calls us on many occasions?

  16. Fortunately, sane people understand that the administration is doing no such thing.

  17. ron chandonia says:

    Of course, it’s “appropriate for Catholics, more specifically the bishops, to oppose the government” when the government supports policies opposed to the common good. In fact, it is our DUTY to do just that. Is the contraception mandate such a policy? I think so, and, whatever my personal misgivings, I defer to the judgment of the bishops on the matter.

    HOWEVER, it is never appropriate for the clergy to insert themselves into partisan politics, to demonize those people (including public figures) with whom they disagree, or to play the Hitler card (at least when the issue is far less than Hitlerian), as Bishop Jenky did here. If the point is to solve the problem at hand–the problem of a secular agenda on sexuality being invoked to stifle the charitable work of the Church–we need further dialogue with our political leaders, and calling them names is not the way to foster such dialogue.

  18. I am always amazed at how God always provides us what we need, when we need it (vs. when WE would like to have it). I’ve been worried with the likes of Bishop Bruskewitz retiring, where we would get good, faithful, courageous bishops to stand up for Christ and His Church. Well, here’s one in Bishop Jenky!

    History has a habit of repeating itself, especially where we don’t learn from past history. On the road we’re on now, we can fully expect to be persecuted, just like the Jews in Nazi Germany. It’s only a matter of time. As one priest put it, when asked, the greatest evil of our time is that good men do nothing in the face of evil. We have done this nothing now for decades, in the face of artificial birth control, abortion, etc. The time for fence-sitting is quickly drawing to a close, because I believe God is going to take that fence and SHAKE it mightily! We will HAVE to choose one side or the other!

  19. If this windbag wanted to be a real hero……or any other priest/minister….they would do this:

    Call attention to the millions of Christians being killed and persecuted by Islam daily around the world.

    Catholics and other Christian denominations don’t want to acknowledge this massive human rights atrocity.

    Heroes?……………..persecuted Christians could use their help.

  20. Mike, it’s the unperceptive people that think the administration is doing no such thing. Those who followed it’s first attempt with Hosana-Tabor, followed not only by the first round of the HHS mandate, but the lie and slap-in-the-face provided by the “compromise”, are the sane ones.

  21. I should retract my windbag comment above. Frustration on an issue should not cause a lashing out at legitimate dissidents.

    Bishop Jenky makes legitimate points……..maybe he will get around to persecuted Christians someday.

    I stand corrected.

  22. Bravo Bishop, you could wash the bed pans like O’Connor did and the chuck Murphys of this world would castigate you. Oh, and others would tell you softly not to be so, so strident because well, because they really don’t have the stomach that Murphy does.

  23. Ron Chandonia,
    Did you hear what the Bishop said? Catholic schools and hospitals will be closing. Mother Theresa said the fruit of abortion is nuclear holocaust. Please! Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. It is the bishops duty to remind us of perilous situations. Please consider that the bishop may just know a whole lot more about it then you. And please be careful not to be publicly disrespectful to a man who has dedicated his life to our Lord and mankind.

  24. Joanne,
    Its not about “launching missiles from a distance and demonizing the opponents”. Its about speaking up for the least of our brothers and sisters…the unborn. Its also about preserving the blessings of freedom in our society from the socialist agenda of the president. It’s ok to have been misled as long as your willing to take a close look and then make the right decision when the Church calls on you. Open your mind and learn about subjects like church history and what Socialism is and how it ends in a totalitarian disaster. The Bishops are only trying to protect us! Please help and don’t get in their way.

  25. Please wake up,,,,,Politically driven Catholics under the direction of Bill Donohue have again been assigned to carry Evangelical Political waters only to be thrown under the bus right after the election. Don’t you get it,,,,,there are groups in this church that simply do not want to see the church heal,,,, and will do anything to have themselves in the middle of every contraversy. Bill Donohue has hi-jacked our church for his political and personal gain. He is an angry man who misrepresents the Catholic Church and everything it stands for every time he opens his angry bigoted mouth.

  26. The Bishops, like any group don’t all march in the same order. Bill Donohue chooses to be the Catholic of Convenience well heeled by political Evangelicals. We carry their water while he disgraces our church with his bigotry, anger and dare I say almost fascination with homosexuality.

    Please reember Donohue does not speak for or represent the Church,,,,,and I wish the Catholic Hierarchy would say that. He does great harm to the image and message of ost Catholics.


  1. [...] Heroic Catholicism, Not Casual Catholicism Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, via Deacon’s Bench Comments (0) [...]

  2. [...] the line?April 20, 2012 By Deacon Greg Kandra Leave a CommentSome people are saying so, pointing to this homily. Details: A prominent advocate of church-state separation filed a formal complaint with the Internal [...]

Leave a Comment