The Roman Catholic bishop who likened President Brack Obama to Hitler and Stalin is facing calls to resign from the board of fellows at Notre Dame University.
And Bishop Daniel Jenky’s Peoria diocese should also be investigated by the IRS, one group says, suggesting that his statement could have violated tax exempt rules on political speech.
Jenky sparked a firestorm on April 14 when he said in a homily, “Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care. In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama — with his radical, pro-abortion, and extreme secularist agenda — now seems intent on following a similar path.”
A total of 95 members of faculty at Notre Dame have added their names to a letter sent Sunday to the university’s president the Rev. John Jenkins and chairman of the trustees Richard Notebaert demanding action.
“We accept that Jenky’s comments are protected by the First Amendment, but we find it profoundly offensive that a member of our beloved University’s highest authority, the Board of Fellows, should compare the president’s actions with those whose genocidal policies murdered tens of millions of people, including the specific targeting of Catholics, Jews, and other minorities for their faith,” the letter stated.
They asked Jenkins and Notebaert to issue a statement distancing the university from Jenky’s comments, adding, “Further, we feel that it would be in the best interest of Notre Dame if Jenky resigned from the University’s Board of Fellows if he is unwilling to renounce loudly and publicly this destructive analogy.”
Jenky was educated at Notre Dame and was rector of the university’s Dillon Hall and director of campus ministry before being appointed Bishop of Peoria in 2002.
The Diocese of Peoria said Jenky was “surprised” at the move, saying the faculty members “must have not actually heard or read what was said and only what people have misquoted.”
Meanwhile Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a complaint with the IRS, insisting Jenky’s sermon was political. "No rational person could believe the bishop was doing anything but saying vote against Obama," said executive director Barry Lynn.
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