Bishop: Court rulings a step of ‘deconstruction for our culture’
Photo Caption: After taking part in Theology on Tap with dozens of young adults in Peoria, Bishop Jenky joins a group of graduate students from Bradley University for further discussion and social time.
By: By Tom Dermody
The U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on same-sex marriage are “another step of deconstruction for our culture” that further “distances us from biblical faith as a nation,” Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, told a group of young adults on the night of the June 26 rulings.
Taking questions in an informal pub setting during the final evening of a Peoria-based Theology on Tap series, the bishop said “heroic Christianity” will be required as those who stand up for what the church teaches face being labeled as “bigots” by some for not affirming marriage for same-sex couples.
Hours earlier the Supreme Court, in separate 5-4 rulings, struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, defining marriage as between one man and one woman and also refused to rule on the merits of a challenge to California’s Proposition 8, the voter-approved initiative barring same-sex marriage.
Calling the rulings “disappointing, but not entirely surprising,” Bishop Jenky emphasized he meant no prejudice or bigotry as he asserted natural law and church teaching on marriage.
“It is the deep conviction of the Scriptures, of tradition, of a million years of human evolution that the stable way to bring children into this world and to nurture them is the intact family of a man and a woman,” said the bishop.
He acknowledged that “there are good people with convictions much different from our own,” and recalled that most of his priestly life was spent on a university campus where he developed a “wide and diverse range of friends.”
“On certain issues we agreed to disagree,” he said.
“IN SEASON AND OUT OF SEASON”
Before taking questions for an hour at Kelleher’s Pub and Grill, Bishop Jenky noted the gathering took place as the Catholic Church in the United States is observing a Fortnight for Freedom focusing on religious liberty. While culture has taken a “dramatic change” in the last decade and religious liberty is being threatened in new ways, he said Catholics should not become discouraged and they must continue to preach the Gospel “in season and out of season.”
“Believe what God has revealed to us. Live it. Witness more by what you do more than what you say,” he urged the young adults.
Craig Dyke, diocesan director of the Office of Evangelization and Family Life, noted that the evening’s public gathering itself was an exercise of religious liberty.
“We are here in a bar where we get to proclaim the Gospel,” said Dyke, who coordinates the Theology on Tap program at various sites in the diocese. “Let’s not take religious liberty for granted.”
RESPONDS TO 11 QUESTIONS
During the course of the evening — promoted as “Stump the Bishop” — Bishop Jenky responded to 11 questions. Asked what would draw a non-Catholic to the faith, he listed the sacraments, the communion of saints, the church’s universal nature and authority, but concluded by saying “I couldn’t live without the Eucharist.”
Evangelization was a common theme in his responses. When asked the greatest strengths and needs of the Diocese of Peoria, he linked the two.
“If every baptized, confirmed, Mass-going Catholic would accept their responsibility to be a witness to Jesus Christ, we would set the world on fire,” he said. Lay people can be more effective witnesses than even bishops, because “they expect me to preach.”
“If you’re at school, at work, in a locker room, playing golf, and the Holy Spirit gives you a moment to witness to your faith, take it. If one of you found a cure for cancer, would you keep it hidden?” he asked. “If you know Jesus Christ, how can you not share him?”
He encouraged young Catholics to make time for daily prayer and Scripture reading, even if it is only five minutes “before you start the rat race.” The bishop especially recommended reading the Psalms, and said the use of “darts of love” — short prayers such as “Jesus help me” or “Praise God” — can keep God in their minds and hearts during busy days.
On a question regarding abortion, the bishop said that “by our actions we have to be more pro-life.” He applauded those who are already doing so, including the founders of the just-opened Women’s Care Center near Peoria’s abortion facility. The new Family Resources Center being built across from the Spalding Pastoral Center, he added, will enable that ministry to continue to be “an engine for teaching pro-life,” and he cited the Christ Child Society as another example of how “the church tries to put its resources and its love where its mouth is.”
There were also personal glimpses into Bishop Jenky’s life, and much humor.
Asked to name those who have inspired him, Bishop Jenky first mentioned his father. A streetcar operator and later a bus driver, his father would kneel beside his bed and pray aloud in Polish before falling asleep.
One participant noted the bishop’s love of history and asked if there was a particular time in history in which he would like to have lived.
“Visit? Yes. Live? No. I really like air conditioning,” said the bishop.