Illinois governor has bill that would end death penalty

Following is a press release just in from the U.S. bishops' office. Here's a little background: Full-Court Press For Death Penalty Abolition Heats Up

BISHOPS URGE ILLINOIS GOVERNOR TO SIGN BILL ENDING DEATH PENALTY

WASHINGTON -- Signing a bill to end the use of the death penalty would “begin building a culture of life in our country,” said the bishop who oversees the domestic justice efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in a letter to the governor of Illinois.

In his March 3 letter, Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, joined the bishops of Illinois in urging Governor Pat Quinn to sign SB 3539, a bill that would end the use of the death penalty in Illinois and provide funds for training for law enforcement and services for families of murder victims.

“I hope and pray that you will take this essential step by signing SB 3539 and further Illinois’ leadership role in turning away from the death penalty with all its moral problems and issues of fairness and justice,” wrote Bishop Blaire.

Bishop Blaire also cited the opposition of both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II to the death penalty and quoted the 2005 statement of the U.S. bishops, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death: “Even when people deny the dignity of others, we must still recognize that their dignity is a gift from God and is not something that is earned or lost through their behavior. Respect for life applies to all, even the perpetrators of terrible acts. Punishment should be consistent with the demands of justice and with respect for human life and dignity.”

The full text of Bishop Blaire’s letter follows:

Dear Governor Quinn:

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I join the Catholic bishops of Illinois and urge you to sign SB 3539, which would end the use of the death penalty in Illinois and provide funds for training for law enforcement and services to families of murder victims.

Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, have called for the end to the use of the death penalty as a sign of greater respect for all human life. In A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death, the Catholic bishops of the United States wrote “Even when people deny the dignity of others, we must still recognize that their dignity is a gift from God and is not something that is earned or lost through their behavior. Respect for life applies to all, even the perpetrators of terrible acts. Punishment should be consistent with the demands of justice and with respect for human life and dignity.” The legislation before you would help to begin building a culture of life in our country.

I hope and pray that you will take this essential step by signing SB 3539 and further Illinois’ leadership role in turning away from the death penalty with all its moral problems and issues of fairness and justice.
Sincerely,

Most Rev. Stephen E. Blaire
Bishop of Stockton
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development

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