Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria has been facing a firestorm of criticism lately over comments he made during a sermon comparing President Obama’s actions to the paths followed by Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin.

Jenky, along with other bishops, has criticized the Obama Administration over its attempt to order religious institutions to offer health care insurance that would cover abortions and contraceptives in violation of the groups’ religious conscience.

The administration’s PR maneuver saying that only the insurance companies, not the insurers’ customers, would have to pay for such services has done little to quell the upswelling of protest among Catholic leaders. Obviously, such costs would simply be passed to customers, effectively no change from the original administration effort to abridge churches’ First Amendment rights.

Amid this turbulent atmosphere, in which Americans are faced with an elected government that openly seeks to seize for its president the power to subvert the Constitution by decree, Bishop Jenky spoke his conscience about the seriousness of the situation confronting our nation:

“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, President Obama, with his radical pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path. Now things have come to such a pass in our beloved country that this is a battle we could lose, but before the awesome judgment seat of Almighty God, this is not a battle where any believing Catholic may remain neutral.”

In stating unequivocally the nature of the battle we face in this country, Jenky has awakened the ire of the Left, including those sad socialists who hide in Catholic churches and at Catholic universities, convinced of their own righteousness because they take Communion once a week, even while ignoring or selectively culling from the Bible message anything their secular minds find uncomfortable.

In addition to the expected atheistic church-state separationist groups looking to sue, a group of benighted Catholic professors at Notre Dame University, at which Jenky is a trustee and Board of Fellows member, has demanded the bishop apologize or resign.

Mike Foster, a retired professor of English and journalism, wrote a column in the Peoria Journal Star calling Jenky’s sermon “hateful,” then asked the rhetorical question, “If President Obama is such a Hitleresque Stalinist, why did Ray LaHood, a lifelong Catholic and our erstwhile Republican congressman, join Obama’s cabinet as secretary of transportation?”

The answer is an obvious one, yet one that is studiously avoided by the mass of humanity, particularly those people comfortable with accommodating our modern values. It’s simply this: Even normally decent people may be seduced by evil.

Ray LaHood is not the standard Catholics are called upon to imitate.

Christ is.

President Obama has taken it upon himself to assume authority where none is granted under the laws of our land. Further, he assumes with that the authority to bypass a right that comes not from the state but from God himself.

In doing so, Obama places himself above all past presidents, above the Constitution, above even God.

If the Left is so upset at a comparison of Obama’s actions to those of Hitler and Stalin before him, then we are left to wonder what good men in history the Left has in mind who acted like Obama? Only the likes of a Hitler and Stalin provide such a precedent.

It is a sincere hope that Bishop Jenky will find the strength not to apologize but to stand his ground, despite the threats from those who would harm or abandon his parish by choosing a secular king over the king of kings.

Theirs are the shouts of the mob whipped up by the Pharisees into shouting “Crucify him; crucify him” when Pontius Pilate would have let Jesus go free. Their reward is the reward of Judas.

The time may be fast approaching when only a few men like Jenky will stand between us and dictatorship. Men and women of faith need to examine their hearts and decide whose side they are on.