An online religious community has collected 23,000 signatures demanding an apology from the Peoria bishop who compared President Barack Obama's policies to those of Hitler and Stalin.
While the Peoria Dioceses chancellor said Bishop Daniel Jenky's remarks were simply "historical context and comparisons," Jenky's statements that Obama's "radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda" proved he was "intent on following a similar path" as Hitler and Stalin have angered some.
The remarks were part of Jenky's commentary on the impact of President Obama's mandate requiring employers to include birth control in their insurance coverage. Catholic groups have opposed the requirement on the ground that it violates their religious opposition to premarital sex, contraception and abortion.
Among the outraged are thousands of members to the religious social justice website Faithful America. A petition posted on the site was delivered to the Spalding Pastoral Center by four Peoria-area Catholics Wednesday for Jenky's consideration, according to the Peoria Journal Star.
"This kind of hateful and incendiary rhetoric is inappropriate coming from anyone--but it's simply outrageous coming from a religious leader in a position of public trust," the petition states. "Bishop Jenky needs to hear immediately that reasonable people of faith are appalled by his remarks."
Jenky was previously asked to resign from his position on the Notre Dame University Board of Fellows by nearly 50 university faculty members in response to his comments, unless he would "renounce loudly and publicly this destructive analogy."
The Anti-Defamation League is also demanding Jenky rescind comments they call both historically inaccurate and "outrageous, offensive and completely over the top."