The end of the death penalty in Illinois?

Concluding that the system is broken and cannot be fixed, a majority of elected representatives in Illinois have voted to ban the death penalty in the state. The House passed a death penalty ban bill last week, and the Senate approved it yesterday, in part in reaction to the exoneration of several people on death row in recent years.

But will Gov. Pat Quinn (a Catholic) sign the bill into law? During his campaign last fall, he said he supports "capital punishment when applied carefully and fairly," but also backs the 10-year-old moratorium on executions, according to this Chicago Tribune article.

This is a momentous prolife victory, so I wondered what various prolife groups around the state were saying. After the House vote last week, the Catholic Conference of Illinois released a statement commending the historic vote and urging the Senate to pass it.

But, as of this morning, the archdiocesan home page, Respect Life Office and blog had no mention of it.

Not surprisingly, the Illinois Right to Life Committee website (admittedly not a Catholic organization, though supported by many prolife Catholics) had nary a mention, since Right to Life does not include the death penalty on its list of issues (but does include vaccines?)

And Joseph Scheidler's Pro-life Action League, which was a leader in the protests when President Obama spoke at Notre Dame's commencement, comes right out and says, "we do not consider the death penalty to be morally equivalent to abortion" on its website.

Catholics would have a lot more credibility when we speak about our defense of all human life if we were a little more "consistent" in our consistent ethic of life. I'm praying Quinn signs the ban.

Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Learn more here