A moratorium on death penalty executions, imposed by an Executive Order from the Governor, has been in place for ten years in Illinois. However, the death penalty still exists in our state, and the moratorium on executions could be lifted at any time. At the same time, there is great momentum around current efforts to abolish the death penalty, and legislation to do so may be considered during the fall veto session (November 16-18 and November 29-December 2) in Springfield.
The Catholic Conference of Illinois (CCI), the public policy voice for the Catholic Church in Illinois, supports this legislation. The use of the death penalty when there are other means to protect our society, such as sentences of natural life without parole, weakens the respect for all human life. As part of educational efforts on abolition of the death penalty, CCI hosted the Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN, www.catholicsmobilizing.org), based in Washington D.C., for two workshops this past September in the Archdiocese of Chicago. CMN works in collaboration with the USCCB on efforts to end the use of the death penalty. The workshops gathered parish leaders together to discuss the Church’s teachings on the death penalty and ways parishioners can support abolition of the death penalty. Furthermore, CCI is encouraging Catholics across Illinois to contact their state representative and senator before the beginning of the veto session on November 16 and urge them to support the legislation to abolish the death penalty. A sample letter can be found on our website.
In addition, CCI invites Catholics from around the state to show support for the legislation by participating in the “People of Faith Lobby Day,” hosted by the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty on November 29 in Springfield. Buses will be leaving from Chicago and Glen Ellyn at 6:00 am for a fee (lunch will be included). To register for a seat on one of the buses, go to www.icadp.org or for more information, contact CCI at (312) 368-1066. We are at an important point in our efforts to end the use of the death penalty in Illinois and encourage all Catholics and people of good faith to take action and support legislation to abolish the death penalty in Illinois.