Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Illinois Bishop Says State Is at War with Catholics

Bishop Daniel Jenky
And talk about ratcheting things up (I'm piggy-backing on a remark I just made in my post about Wayne Besen): this HuffPo article, which may be from AP feed (I don't see a source attribution) reports that Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria has just opined that the state of Illinois is "basically at war with the Catholic community."

I think that declaration is going to come as a shock to the large percentage of Illinois Catholics who supported the implementation of same-sex civil unions in that state earlier this year.  Unfortunately, the Illinois bishops have chosen to retaliate against the state's legislature and governor for daring to take this step by drawing a line in the sand about the state's non-discrimination requirements for charities receiving state funding.

To be specific: the Catholic Charities organization in Illinois wants to continue receiving large funds from the state to subvent its programs, while refusing to adhere to state non-discrimination stipulations in the area of adoption of children.  As the HuffPo article to which I link above states, last week Illinois Judge John Schmidt rules that "[n]o citizen has a recognized legal right to a contract with the government," and it is therefore entirely within its rights for the state of Illinois to cancel its contract with Catholic Charities if that organization refuses to abide by state non-discrimination regulations while receiving state funding.

This is the proximate cause of Bishop Jenky's declaration that the state of Illinois has declared war on the Catholic community.  The Catholic bishops of Illinois and their spokespersons have been maintaining that their religious freedom and rights of conscience are being violated by the state, as they refuse to place adoptive children in same-sex households--while accepting state money in a state that prohibits such discrimination.

I'm not sure the term "war" is a very wise term for the bishops to trot out in this particular debate.  There might be more than a few folks around who regard what the bishops have been doing to their gay brothers and sisters for a long time now as a form of war--and who wonder how on earth those who have mounted a war suddenly imagine they can claim that they're the victims in that war, while saving any shreds of moral credibility at all.

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