Bishops’ Statements on Current Issues

Illinois’ six diocesan bishops occasionally make statements on current issues important to the Church, either as a group or as individuals. When the statement is issued as a group, it reflects the view of the Church statewide. Individual bishops may choose to make a statement on issues of specific interest to their dioceses.

Illinois bishops offer thoughts on clean energy in Illinois

Illinois bishops offer thoughts on clean energy in Illinois

State lawmakers are expected to craft clean energy legislation during the spring 2021 legislative session. After celebrating the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’ encyclical on the environment this past June, our Illinois bishops have looked to the groundbreaking document for specific points that would do well to be included in any legislation. The result is the following statement, which may also be viewed here.

Fall 2020

Increasing Renewable and Clean Energy in Illinois

The fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, was celebrated in June. It is in this spirit of celebration that we note certain aspects of evolving clean energy legislation expected to be debated this spring in the Illinois Legislature. 

The measure will most likely integrate elements from the previously-introduced Clean Energy Jobs Act and principles for a clean and renewable economy announced this summer by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The governor’s standards focus on increasing utility accountability and transparency, creating new clean energy jobs, reducing harmful emissions, and maintaining low energy costs for consumers and industrial users.

This new legislation will build on the success of the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), which sought to increase state investment in renewable energies such as solar and wind and promote efficiencies in electric energy. FEJA also called for access to clean energy and the jobs that come with this industry, along with the creation of the Illinois Solar for All program for financially struggling communities.

The efforts of FEJA are now coming to fruition, as Illinois consumers participating in electric energy efficiency programs are seeing decreased utility bills.[1] Solar and wind energy usage have increased, as have jobs related to this expansion. Illinois as of 2018 hosted more than 123,000 clean energy jobs – an increase of 4% from the previous year.[2]   

As Pope Francis states in Laudato Si’, “climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.” (23) It is with concern for this common good that we offer the following considerations for the expected legislation – measures that we believe could help Illinois progress on the path to increased renewable and clean energy, accompanied by significant reductions in pollution, carbon emissions and other environmental blights on our common home, the Earth.

We note that any efforts to increase clean energy and rein in climate change should hold fast to the litmus test for any new policy: Does it respect the life and dignity of the human person and consider the impact on marginalized populations, such as the poor and vulnerable? Pope Francis underscores the importance of these values when he states the following in Laudato Si’:

“We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay.” (165)

“There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.” (26)

Expansion of Illinois Solar for All

We encourage the General Assembly to expand and increase funding for the Illinois Solar for All program. This initiative offers incentives to poor communities and nonprofit organizations — such as the Catholic Church — to install solar panels on their buildings. 

However, program participation among nonprofits and religious organizations has been low because of a lack of funding. As a state, we could all better live out the wisdom of Laudato Si’ with increased funding for this key program.

Expanding Gas Energy Efficiency Programs

Any clean energy legislation should seek to replicate the success low-income communities and nonprofits – like Catholic parishes – have experienced with electric efficiencies with gas energy efficiency programs. Yet funding is insufficient, so new provisions should expand access to and boosts monies for gas efficiencies, allowing for the transition to ecologically-aware gas boilers and water heaters.

We stress, however, that any increase in renewable or clean energy should not be funded by vendors or utilities that would burden families or nonprofits in poor communities.                                                                     

Reinvestment in Communities

We recall that Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ keeps top of mind the concept of “integral ecology,” in which nothing on the Earth exists in isolation:

“Today, the analysis of environmental problems cannot be separated from the analysis of human, family, work-related and urban contexts, nor from how individuals relate to themselves, which leads in turn to how they relate to others and to the environment.” (141)

“We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.” (139)

As public policy moves increasingly toward renewable energy sources, this interconnection must be considered, especially any negative effects on communities hosting fossil fuel power plants, coal mines, or nuclear plants. A new clean energy proposal should call for reinvestment in such communities in the form of workforce training programs, incentives for new business creation, and the revitalization of land stripped for fossil fuels. Our brothers and sisters in rural and agricultural areas also must not be forgotten.

Increasing Job Opportunities in the Clean Energy Industry

New legislation most likely will set out specific requirements on increasing and expanding access to jobs in this new industry. Although we take no position on such requisites, we recognize the dignity of work and encourage the development of employment options, especially for marginalized workers.  

We conclude by encouraging the Illinois General Assembly to craft renewable and efficient energy policies in an atmosphere of comity that respects the human dignity of all and aids the poor and vulnerable. 

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[1] https://www.comed.com/News/Pages/NewsReleases/2019-04-09.aspx

[2] https://www.cleanjobsmidwest.com/state/illinois

Illinois bishops issue statement on legislative push for 'Reproductive Health Act'

Illinois bishops issue statement on legislative push for 'Reproductive Health Act'

Illinois’ six Catholic bishops today issued a statement on the end-of-session push to consider the so-called “Reproductive Health Act.”

The extreme legislation goes further than Roe v. Wade in stripping rights from the unborn child, and jeopardizes conscience protections for doctors, nurses and hospitals who refuse to participate in an abortion. The spring legislative session is set to end just days away, on May 31.

The statement follows, and can be viewed as a PDF here or in Español here or in Polskie here.

May 26, 2019

Illinois’ Catholic Bishops Offer Statement on

Push for Consideration of “Reproductive Health Act”

During the past week, we have watched supporters of the misnamed “Reproductive Health Act” propel the legislation into the end-of-session rush. The introduced version of the bill dramatically rewrites current abortion law, going further than Roe v. Wade in stripping human rights and dignity from the unborn child with this single statement: “A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this State.” The fundamental premise of the bill is flawed, and no amendment or tweak to the language will change the fact that it is designed to rob the vulnerable life in the womb of any trace of human dignity and value.

On Memorial Day, there will be five days left in the legislative session set to end on May 31.  Major issues that will require bipartisan cooperation and unity among lawmakers remain, such as passing a balanced budget for the health, education and safety of Illinois residents and crafting a statewide construction plan with unresolved funding. Conversations on these matters need to take place in an atmosphere of comity and civility and any talk of abortion will only sow more divisiveness and disharmony in today’s polarized political climate.

We ask that lawmakers set aside consideration of the “Reproductive Health Act,” especially since no final form of the bill has been published, vetted through hearings or fully discussed.

Proponents of the bill cite as a need for action the potential uncertainty surrounding Roe v. Wade. Yet, if the landmark case were overturned today, abortion unfortunately would still be legal in Illinois. House Bill 40 not only authorized taxpayer-funding of abortion, but also removed so-called “trigger language” that would have reverted the state to its pre-Roe policy of allowing an abortion only to save the mother’s life. 

We urge all legislators to consider the common good of the state in these final days of the session and refrain from interjecting chaos into their deliberations by considering the morally- and emotionally-divisive and politically-charged “Reproductive Health Act.”

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Los obispos católicos de Illinois ofrecen una declaración sobre

la propuesta de consideración de la “Ley de Salud Reproductiva”

La semana pasada, hemos observado a los partidarios de la mal llamada “Ley de Salud Reproductiva” impulsar la ley hasta el cierre de la sesión legislativa. La versión del proyecto de ley que se presentó reinventa, de forma drástica, la ley del aborto vigente, con alcance más amplio que el caso Roe vs. Wade en relación con la eliminación de los derechos humanos y la dignidad del niño nonato con esta única declaración: “De conformidad con la ley de este Estado, un óvulo fertilizado, embrión o feto no tiene derechos independientes”. La premisa fundamental del proyecto de ley es errónea y ninguna enmienda o ajuste lingüístico cambiará el hecho de que se diseñó con el fin de robarle cualquier rastro de dignidad y valor humano a la vida vulnerable que se encuentra en el útero.


Para el Día de los Caídos, quedarán cinco días de sesión legislativa, cuyo cierre está programado para el 31 de mayo. Aún falta tratar problemas importantes que requerirán la cooperación y la unión bipartidistas entre los legisladores, como la aprobación de un presupuesto equilibrado para la salud, educación y seguridad de los residentes de Illinois y la elaboración de un plan de construcción estatal que cuenta con problemas de financiación sin resolver. Las conversaciones sobre estos asuntos deben realizarse en un entorno de respeto y cortesía, y cualquier conversación sobre el aborto solo generará más división y discordia en la situación política polarizada actual.

Solicitamos que los legisladores dejen sin efecto la consideración de la “Ley de Salud Reproductiva”, especialmente porque no se ha publicado ninguna versión final del proyecto de ley, ni este ha sido evaluado en audiencia ni discutido a fondo.


Los defensores del proyecto de ley mencionan, como fundamento para esta acción, la posible incertidumbre en torno al caso de Roe vs. Wade. Sin embargo, si la histórica decisión se anulara hoy, lamentablemente el aborto aún sería legal en Illinois. El Proyecto de Ley de la Cámara de Representantes n. º 40 no solo autorizó la financiación del aborto por parte de los contribuyentes, sino que también eliminó el denominado “lenguaje provocativo” que hubiera revertido al estado a su política previa al caso Roe de permitir el aborto solo para salvar la vida de la madre.

Instamos a los legisladores a considerar el bien común del estado en estos últimos días de la sesión y se abstengan de generar caos en sus deliberaciones al considerar la “Ley de Salud Reproductiva”, de una carga política, moral y emocionalmente divisiva.

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Oświadczenie Biskupów Katolickich stanu Illinois 
o konieczności przemyślenia
 „Ustawy o zdrowiu reprodukcyjnym”

W ciągu ostatniego tygodnia obserwowaliśmy zwolenników ustawy błędnie nazwanej „O zdrowiu reprodukcyjnym”, próbujących w pośpiechu przegłosować ją jeszcze przed zakończeniem sesji. Przedstawiona wersja projektu ustawy radykalnie zmienia aktualne prawo aborcyjne, bardziej niż było to w przypadku ustawy znanej jako Roe v. Wadeodziera nienarodzone dzieci z praw człowieka i godności ludzkiej. A czyni to poprzez proste oświadczenie:„Zapłodnione jajo, zarodek lub płód nie ma niezależnych praw, zgodnie z prawem tego stanu”.  Podstawowa przesłanka projektu tej ustawy jest wadliwa i ani poprawka do ustawy, ani korekta jej języka nie zmieni faktu, że ma ona na celu odarcie bezbronnego  życia w łonie matki z wszelkich śladów ludzkiej godności i wartości.

Dzień Pamięci Narodowej (Memorial Day) będzie piątym od końca dniem w sesji ustawodawczej, której zakończenie wyznaczono na 31 maja. Najważniejsze kwestie, które będą wymagały współpracy ponadpartyjnej i jedności wśród prawodawców, takie jak przekazanie zrównoważonego budżetu na kwestie opieki zdrowotnej, edukację i zapewnienie bezpieczeństwa mieszkańcom Illinois oraz stworzenie ogólnostanowego planu budowy projektów o nierozwiązanych kwestiami finansowych, wciąż pozostają nierozstrzygnięte. Dyskusje na te tematy muszą odbywać się w cywilizowany sposób, w atmosferze życzliwości. Jednak akutalny, spolaryzowany klimat polityczny sprawia, że wszelkie rozmowy dotyczące aborcji wprowadzają coraz więcej podziałów i dysharmonii.

Prosimy prawodawców, aby zaprzestali rozpatrywania „Ustawy o zdrowiu reprodukcyjnym”, zwłaszcza że ostateczna forma projektu tej ustawy nie została jeszcze opublikowana, poddana weryfikacji w przesłuchaniu ani w pełni przedyskutowana.


Zwolennicy projektu argumentują pośpiech w działaniach potencjalną niepewnością, jaka zawisła nad ustawą Roe v. Wade. Jednakże nawet jeśli ta precedensowa  kwestia zostałaby dziś odsunięta, aborcja niestety nadal będzie legalna w stanie Illinois. Ustawa ‘House Bill 40’ nie tylko upoważnia do pokrywania kosztów aborcji z funduszy podatnika, ale także zmienia tzw. „rażące słownictwo”, przez co przywraca prawodawstwo sprzed sprawy Roe zezwalające na aborcję tylko w sytuacji, gdy zagrożone jest życie matki. 

Wzywamy wszystkich ustawodawców do wzięcia pod uwagę wspólnego dobra naszego stanu w tych ostatnich dniach sesji i powstrzymanie się od wywoływania chaosu poprzez debaty nad „Ustawą o zdrowiu reprodukcyjnym”, która rodzi moralne i emocjonalne podziały oraz jest obciążona politycznie. 


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Illinois bishops issue statement on legislative push for 'Reproductive Health Act'

Illinois bishops warn against extreme abortion legislation

Illinois’ six Catholic bishops today issued a statement against recently-introduced abortion legislation. This package of legislation would repeal the state’s Parental Notice of Abortion Act, which requires a parent or guardian be notified when a minor seeks an abortion. The legislation would also repeal the state’s current ban on partial-birth abortions, define abortion as a fundamental right, eliminate legal protections for hospitals and health care personnel who refuse to participate in an abortion, and dramatically change the current landscape of abortion law in Illinois. Read the statement below and in PDF form in English, Spanish and Polish.

Illinois Bishops Warn Against

Extreme Abortion Legislation in General Assembly

As Illinois faces so many pressing issues involving human life and dignity, it is incomprehensible that our elected officials have decided the pressing issue of the day is to enhance the chances that the lives of the most vulnerable and voiceless will be taken. Their efforts, similar to recent actions in New York and Virginia, focus on corrupting our God-given right to life and sowing unnecessary division.

House Bill 2495 and Senate Bill 1942, misnamed the Reproductive Health Act, include so many harmful provisions the full effect of these bills can hardly be imagined. We know the legislation:

  • seeks to define abortion as health care and a fundamental right;
  • removes abortion clinics from a regulatory framework designed for significant medical procedures;
  • attacks a carefully constructed agreement in law on how hospitals care for the victims of sexual assault;
  • repeals the ban on partial birth abortion;
  • repeals legal protections for doctors and hospitals who decline to participate in abortions;
  • requires private health insurance in Illinois to fully cover the cost of abortion;
  • removes the requirement that only doctors can perform abortions;
  • as well as many other changes that in totality require us to treat abortion as a celebrated right instead of a heart-wrenching tragedy.

Abortion is not health care. It is the intentional taking of innocent and defenseless human life. Moreover, provisions in the law that allow healthcare providers to live and work in accordance with their sincerely-held moral beliefs are not wrong. Freedom of religion and conscience protections are fundamental rights, enshrined in our state and federal constitutions, and they must be respected.

House Bill 2467 and Senate Bill 1594 seek to repeal the Parental Notice of Abortion Act. This law, which has been in statute since 1995 and enforced since 2013, ensures parents are involved in profound medical decisions involving their children. Every other state bordering Illinois – Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Iowa – requires at least parental notification. It is a broadly-supported, reasonable safeguard that allows parents to properly exercise love and care for their children. Our government should support families, not undermine them.

Opposition to these bills do not require one to assume a pro-life political position. Opposition should be the natural result of applying reason, fairness and a basic respect for human dignity to the examination of their contents. We cannot further devalue human life to the extent proposed in this legislation without dire consequences for ourselves.

We hope to lead all people of goodwill to rise up and be heard in opposition to these terrible efforts. Accordingly, in the days ahead, we will be distributing more information and calls to action. Today, we ask for your prayers and support as you certainly have ours.

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