Editorial: Peoria bishop’s boldest claims in homily going unreported

Photo Caption: Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, elevates the chalice during the Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral following the men’s march at the “A Call to Catholic Men of Faith” event on April 14.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky’s homily at the “A Call to Catholic Men of Faith” Mass in Peoria on April 14 is making headlines and creating Internet buzz because it included some startling assertions. The reporters covering and analyzing the story in the ensuing days weren’t actually at the Mass. Neither were the vast majority of the thousands sharing their opinions via social media, radio call-in shows, etc.

Maybe that’s why so many are missing the bishop’s boldest claims.

I was the only journalist at St. Mary’s Cathedral for the Mass following the men’s march. And I can testify that what Bishop Jenky said were some of the most incredible statements we’ll hear in our lifetime.

The Bishop of Peoria wasted no time. In the homily’s very first sentence, Bishop Jenky claimed a man once dead — for more than 36 hours, no less — is now alive.

Oh, but wait. The bishop went further. Much further.

Bishop Jenky said the dead man-now-alive was actually brutally killed more than 2,000 years ago.

There’s more. Maybe this time the bishop went too far. Hold onto your pew.

Bishop Jenky claimed the dead man-now-alive is also . . . God.

“The inescapable fact of the resurrection confirmed every word Jesus had ever spoken, and every work Jesus had ever done,” said the bishop. “The Gospel was the truth. Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah of Israel. Jesus was the Savior of the world. Jesus was the very Son of God.”

Bishop Jenky spoke of Jesus by name or reference more than 50 times in his 14-minute homily. His message was that this beyond-belief news from more than 2,000 years ago should “change everything about us.” It should make us bold and fearless, as it did the first disciples whose lives were changed forever by meeting the Risen Lord.

Yet, in all the reporting, analyzing, and commenting on the controversial homily this week, the name of Jesus is rarely, if ever, mentioned. Why is that? Maybe it’s because the reporters and commentators weren’t there. Yes, that must be it. Curiously missing, too, is the fact that the 500 men to whom the bishop was actually speaking were soaking wet because they had just walked in the rain through downtown Peoria proclaiming the very truth of their bishop’s incredible claims.

As part of his call to action “in the power of the resurrection,” Bishop Jenky invoked the names and practices of several past governments that have “tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches.” In bold terms, he warned President Obama not to follow that path.

A few bloggers who weren’t at the event read the homily text online or heard it on podcast and made exaggerated political connections with sensational headlines that spread around the Internet. Jesus was nowhere to be seen in their accounts. The focus of the homily somehow shifted to the scoundrels of history the bishop had mentioned once, not the Savior he mentioned 50 times. Maybe some consider the scoundrels more sensational than Jesus.

They would be wrong.

Finally, Bishop Jenky made a claim that really should make global headlines. It should also fill our churches every weekend, if not every day.

“Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ, risen from the grave, is in our midst,” Bishop Jenky proclaimed.

Really? Unbelievable! Except to the millions who believe it. It is a truth that spread like wildfire 2,000 years ago when there was no Internet or cable news. Today’s secular media tend to ignore, muddle or even show malice toward this amazing story. So Bishop Jenky says it’s up to those of us who believe to share the Good News “in our families, in our parishes, where we live, and where we work.”

Don’t expect it to be easy. That was Bishop Jenky’s message. It has certainly been his lived experience in the ensuing days.

In a homily filled with sensational claims, maybe Bishop Jenky’s topper was that Jesus’ “sacred Body and Blood becomes our food and drink.” Yes, he was serious. How interesting that no one’s talking about that!

Well, we can’t stop talking about Jesus. Or continuing his mission of Divine love and mercy.

And not only while huddled within the confines of our churches. ? Thomas J. Dermody, Editor-in-Chief, The Catholic Post

For the full text of the homily, click here.

A podcast audio version of the homily is available at
The Bishop’s Podcasts.

For further clarification on the homily from the Diocese of Peoria, click

For The Catholic Post’s story regarding “A Call to Catholic Men of Faith,” click here.

For dozens of photos from the event, see the album on The Catholic Post’s Facebook site.

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