Press Releases


CHICAGO  —  The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a 5-4 ruling in favor of the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties lawsuits against the mandate handed down by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requiring all employers to offer insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilizations.

Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, issued the following statement on the ruling:

We are elated the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes and affirms the importance of religious freedom in the practice of business. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties have scored an important victory regarding religious conscience that we hope portends a triumph for religious-based and nonprofit employers pursuing similar lawsuits.

All of these cases challenge the federal mandate requiring insurance coverage of such objectionable services as abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations. But the issue at hand goes far beyond birth control, which today’s ruling addresses.

The issue strikes at the heart of the first 16 words of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. …”

As we approach the Fourth of July and the celebration of our country’s independence, we in the Catholic Church observe our third annual “Fortnight for Freedom” from June 21-July 4, in recognition of America’s first freedom – religious freedom. We breathe a sigh of relief that it has been affirmed.


The Catholic Conference of Illinois was created in 1969 to serve as the public policy voice of the Illinois bishops and the six dioceses of the state: Belleville, Chicago, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield-in-Illinois.

En español

CHICAGO – La Corte Suprema de EE.UU. emitió hoy un fallo de 5-4, a favor de las demandas de Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties contra el mandato dictado por el Departamento Federal de Salud y Servicios Humanos (HHS) que obliga a todos los empleadores a ofrecer cobertura de seguro para medicamentos inductores del aborto, anticonceptivos y esterilizaciones.

Robert Gilligan, director ejecutivo de la Conferencia Católica de Illinois, emitió la siguiente declaración sobre la sentencia:

Estamos muy contentos que la Corte Suprema de los EE.UU. reconozca y ratifique la importancia de la libertad religiosa en la práctica de los negocios. Hobby Lobby y Conestoga Wood Specialties ha conseguido una victoria importante en cuanto a la conciencia religiosa se refiere la cual, esperamos, signifique un augurio de un triunfo para empresas con fundamento religioso y sin fines de lucro que han presentado demandas similares.

Todos estos casos desafían el mandato federal que exige una cobertura de seguro de servicios que son inaceptables, tales como medicamentos inductores del aborto, anticonceptivos y esterilizaciones. Pero el tema en cuestión va mucho más allá del control de la natalidad y es atendido por la decisión que se ha tomado el día de hoy.

La cuestión tiene que ver con la esencia de las primeras 16 palabras de la Primera Enmienda: “El Congreso no hará ley alguna por la que adopte una religión como oficial o por la que se prohíba practicarla libremente …”

Ahora que se acerca el 4 de julio y la celebración de la independencia de nuestro país, en la Iglesia católica observaremos nuestra tercera “Quincena por la Libertad” anual, del 21 de junio al 4 de julio, con el fin de reconocer la primera libertad de los Estados Unidos: la libertad religiosa. Respiramos aliviados de que ha sido ratificada.


La Conferencia Católica de Illinois fue creada en 1969 para servir como la voz pública de los obispos de Illinois y de las seis diócesis del estado sobre las políticas públicas: Belleville, Chicago, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford y Springfield-en-Illinois.


The Catholic Conference of Illinois today issued the following statement on an advisory referenedum on mandated birth control. The statement can also be viewed here as a PDF.


Advisory Referendum on Mandated Birth Control

On May 28, three days before the end of the Illinois General Assembly’s scheduled adjournment, a new advisory referendum was proposed for the November 2014 ballot.  A Senate committee on the same day approved the referendum, the full Senate passed it today, and it now goes to the House.

The proposed advisory referendum reads: “Shall any health insurance plan in Illinois that provides prescription drug coverage be required to include prescription birth control as part of that coverage?"

This question ignores important policy detail and lacks any semblance of context.  First, since 2003, Illinois has required the vast majority of health insurance plans operating in the state to cover FDA approved contraceptive drugs for women.  Moreover, beginning in 2013, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has required health insurance plans nationwide to provide contraceptives, the morning-after pill and sterilizations without cost.  The only exceptions to the combined effect of these mandates have been health insurance plans provided by religious organizations who object to paying for contraceptives, abortifacients or sterilizations.  In fact, the constitutional questions of whether corporations owned by religious objectors or religiously-sponsored organizations (such as Catholic hospitals) are exempt from the ACA mandate due to its infringement on their First Amendment rights are before the United States Supreme Court.  The Court’s first decision in this area is expected in June, and no advisory referendum in Illinois has any power to influence or modify its ruling.

The proposed advisory referendum lacks detail and context.  It seeks to misinform and exploit, play so-called identity politics and further divide the people of Illinois.  This effort should be recognized for what it is and rejected.





The Illinois Supreme Court today ruled that Adolfo Davis, who was sentenced to mandatory life without parole for crimes he commited as a juvenile, should receive a new sentencing hearing. The decision comes on the heels of the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama that such mandatory sentences "violate . . . the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment."

The Catholic Conference of Illinois in August joined other faith-based organizations in an amicus brief to the Davis case, pointing out the U.S. Supreme Court noted that juveniles lack maturity, are far more impressionable than adults, and still have the capacity to change. When the case was heard in January, CCI wrote a letter to the editor that was distributed statewide, and published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Daily Herald, the State Journal-Register and the Belleville News-Democrat.

Davis has spent more than 20 years behind bars for participating in a robbery that ended up killing two people. He was 14 when he committed the crime in which he never fired a shot.

CCI further notes that Davis has accepted responsibility for his actions, attained his General Education Diploma, and works with a Catholic priest to deter at-risk children from criminal activity. Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2011 wrote Gov. Pat Quinn, asking him to commute Davis' sentence. 

"We support the justifiable punishment of crime, but also believe in the redemptive abilities of the individual, especially juveniles who can mature, repent and develop into productive members of society," CCI executive Director Robert Gilligan said today in a press release.

He also noted the Conference supports state legislation ending mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles, a position shared by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


The Illinois House today passed Senate Bill 10 on a 61-54 vote, with two voting "present." The Senate approved the legislation on Feb. 14, 2013. Gov. Pat Quinn has said he will sign the legislation into law.

(View the House roll call here.)

SB 10 changes the state's definition of marriage from "between a man and a woman" to "between two persons" and offers scant religious freedom protections to churches, religious employers and organizations, businesses and individuals.

Following is the statement of the Catholic Conference of Illinois. Click here to read it in PDF. Read it in Spanish here.


Statement of Catholic Conference of Illinois

on House Passage of Redefinition of Marriage Legislation (SB 10)

CHICAGO – Today’s decision by Illinois lawmakers to change the definition of marriage not only goes against the common consensus of the human race – which understands that nature tells us that marriage is the union of one man and one woman – but it also undermines an institution that is the cornerstone of a healthy society.  The optimal condition in which to raise children is a home that includes both a mother and father, since women and men are not interchangeable.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois is deeply disappointed that members of the General Assembly chose to redefine what is outside of its authority: a natural institution like marriage.  We remain concerned about the very real threats to religious liberty that are at stake with the passage of this bill.

We thank the thousands of citizens across Illinois who joined us in our efforts to preserve marriage in law.  This was a truly bipartisan and ecumenical effort,  reflective of the fact that a marriage is universally understood as being between a man and a woman.