Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Will Illinois Abolish the Death Penalty? Will The Bishops Fight Hard to Do So?

Both the state senate and house in Illinois are debating an official end to the death penalty.  (No executions have taken place since then Gov. George Ryan put a moratorium in place in 2000; two years later, just before leaving office, Ryan commuted the sentence of every prisoner who was then on death row in Illinois.  Nonetheless, the death penalty statutes remain on the book, and numerous individuals have been sentenced to death in Illinois during the last decade.)

The Catholic Conference of Illinois--the bishops' group--advocated last fall for an end to the death penalty, much to their credit.  That position is in keeping with the consistent ethic of life (sometimes also called "the seamless garment" approach to life issues).  Let's hope the bishops put at least as much energy into the fight to abolish the death penalty as they did when they were trying (just last month) to prevent Illinois citizens from enjoying marriage-equality rights.

A church that calls itself pro-life needs to fight--fight hard--when an opportunity arises to legislate the death penalty into oblivion.  The death penalty is part of the culture of death that John Paul II condemned; there's no way around that.

I wonder, though, how many supposedly "pro-life" politicians (Catholic and non-Catholic alike) will come out in support of the death penalty.  Too many, alas.  They need not worry about communion, however.  Even bishops who play politics with the Eucharist (unwisely and recklessly, I'd say) rarely if ever use it  when a legislator votes to support state-sponsored executions.  That's fine, I guess; I wish we could see an end to communion politics altogether.  But it's an interesting inconsistency, isn't it?

1 comment:

Melody K said...

"I wish we could see an end to communion politics altogether."
You and me both!