The Anti-Defamation League wants an apology from Peoria's bishop following a recent homily comparing President Barack Obama's policies to those of despots Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
During the message at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria, Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky contended social services for Catholics could be eliminated if Obama's directive to include contraceptives in health insurance continues. Jenky went on to compare the actions to past cultural wars against the Catholic Church.
“Remember that in past history other governments have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches like the first disciples locked up in the Upper Room,” Jenky said.
In comparison, he pointed to Otto von Bismarck's "culture war against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany."
“Clemenceau, nicknamed ‘the priest eater,’ tried the same thing in France in the first decade of the 20th Century," Jenky said. "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,” he said.
The Diocese of Joliet has not returned calls to NBC Chicago. The Archdiocese of Chicago said they offer religious freedom as something they encourage people to investigate.
Chicago’s Anti-Defamation League calls the comments "not only offensive, but grossly inaccurate and dangerous rhetoric."
"A clergy person with so many people listening to every word should be more responsible and should think twice before making analogies," said League Regional Director Lonnie Nasatir.
Nasatir told the Chicago Tribune the bishop's homily trivialized the deaths of six million Jews and others during the Holocaust. He said there are few if any historic parallels to 'the religious intolerance and anti-Semitism fostered in society by Stalin, and especially Hitler."