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Does Oklahoma Catholic Archbishop Coakley Condone Inflammatory Imagery?

June 23, 2012, 2:06 pm | Posted by Nick Sementelli

As the US Catholic bishops launch their “Fortnight for Freedom” to protest the HHS contraception regulation, dioceses around the country are holding various events to join the campaign. One of the most enthusiastic dioceses is Oklahoma City, which held a rally at the city’s downtown convention center today organized by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and a group of lay Catholics called St. Peter’s Fellowship.

National Catholic leaders insist the Fortnight is a prayerful, educational event, but St. Peter’s Fellowship didn’t get the memo. Their website advertising the campaign features hyperbolic language about martyrdom and a photograph of a Catholic priest being shot and killed by Mexican soldiers in the 1920s:

Catholic Priest Shot by Mexican Soldiers

This same picture was the center of a similar controversy earlier this month when The Daily Advertiser, a Gannett-owned Lousiana paper, ran it in an advertisement from a far-right group comparing the Obama administration’s activities to the execution.

This kind of imagery echoes other extreme rhetoric being used by some Catholic leaders around this campaign, including the Bishop of Peoria comparing the Obama administration to Hitler and Stalin and the Bishop of Oakland warning of a descent to “despotism.”

St. Peter’s Fellowship says they’re operating with the blessing of Oklahoma City Archbishop Coakley. If the Archbishop doesn’t want to be seen as co-opted by right-wing extremists, he would be wise to exercise some more oversight with whom he partners.

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