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 warn against extreme abortion legislation

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.


Illinois bishops issue statement against legalization of marijuana

Illinois bishops issue statement against legalization of marijuana

Illinois’ six Catholic bishops today issued a statement urging state lawmakers to vote “no” on upcoming legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Read the statement below and in PDF form for the EnglishSpanish and Polish versions.

 Illinois Bishops Advise

Against Legalization of Marijuana

Legislation that would legalize marijuana for recreational use will be considered in the Illinois General Assembly. The Catholic bishops of Illinois are committed to the common good, and therefore advise against legalization.

Data collected by government agencies and public-interest groups document that drug use is rampant in modern society. Just a few years ago, we heard too many stories of children turned into orphans after their parents overdosed on heroin. Today, we hear of the opioid crisis and the lives it claims. If marijuana is legalized, it will only add to the problem.

Proponents of legalization say marijuana is not addictive, yet peer-reviewed research concludes that it is. Proponents also say that most people who use marijuana will not move on to harder drugs, yet other studies note that most people who are addicted to other drugs started with alcohol and marijuana.

Advocates of legalization rightly point to the racial disparity of our jail and prison populations, noting that marijuana infractions often lead to lives trapped in the criminal justice system. We recognize the truth of that premise, while observing that recent sentencing reforms should soon reverse that trend, since possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana now results in a ticket of up to $200 and no jail time.

Medical marijuana dispensaries already exist across Illinois, ready to be converted into retail stores for customers 21 and older, leading proponents to predict that legalization will eradicate the black market. Will that actually happen, or will the black market simply sell marijuana at a lower price and to those under age?

As lawmakers consider this issue, it is important to remember they are not only debating legalization of marijuana, but also commercialization of a drug into an industry the state will profit from. In seeking the common good, the state should protect its citizens.

We ask lawmakers to say “no” to legalization of marijuana, as Pope Francis explained in 2014 when speaking about marijuana and other recreational drugs: “… To say this ‘no,’ one has to say ‘yes’ to life, ‘yes’ to love, ‘yes’ to others, ‘yes’ to education, ‘yes’ to greater job opportunities. If we say ‘yes’ to all these things, there will be no room for illicit drugs, for alcohol abuse, for other forms of addiction.”


Los obispos de Illinoisestán en contra

de la legalización de la marihuana

La ley que legaliza el consumo de marihuana para fines recreativos se considerará en la Asamblea General de Illinois. Los obispos católicos de Illinois se comprometen con el bien común y, por lo tanto, están en contra de la legalización.

La información recopilada por los organismos gubernamentales y grupos de interés público registran que el consumo de drogas es desenfrenado en la sociedad moderna. Hace algunos años, escuchábamos muchas historias de niños que se quedaron huérfanos luego de que sus padres sufrieron una sobredosis de heroína. Hoy en día, escuchamos sobre la crisis por consumo de opioides y las vidas que cobra. Si se legaliza la marihuana, solo se agrava el problema.

Los defensores de la legalización dicen que la marihuana no es adictiva; sin embargo, una investigación revisada por colegas concluye que sí lo es. Asimismo, mencionan que la mayoría de las personas que consumen marihuana no usarán drogas más fuertes, pero otros estudios indican que la mayoría de las personas que son adictas a otras drogas comenzaron con el consumo de alcohol y marihuana.

Los defensores de la legalización indican de forma oportuna la discriminación racial de nuestras poblaciones en cárceles y prisiones, tomando en cuenta que los delitos por marihuana, a menudo, ocasionan que vivan atrapados en el sistema de justicia penal. Reconocemos la verdad de esa premisa, al igual que observamos que las recientes reformas de sentencias deberían cambiar esa tendencia, ya que ahora la posesión de menos de 10 gramos de marihuana da como resultado el pago de una fianza de hasta $200 y sin privativa de libertad.

Ya existen dispensarios de marihuana medicinal en Illinois, listos para operar como tiendas minoristas para clientes de 21 años o más, y los principales defensores predicen que la legalización erradicará el mercado negro. ¿Finalmente sucederá o el mercado negro solo venderá marihuana a un menor precio y a menores de edad?

Mientras los legisladores consideran este tema, es importante recordar que no solo se debate la legalización de la marihuana, sino también la comercialización de una droga en una industria de la cual el estado se beneficiará. Al buscar el bien común, el estado debe proteger a sus ciudadanos.

Les pedimos a los legisladores que le digan “no” a la legalización de la marihuana, así como indicó el Papa Francisco en 2014 cuando hablaba de la marihuana y otras drogas recreativas: “… Para decir este ‘no,’ hay que decirle ‘sí’ a la vida,‘sí’ al amor,‘sí’ a los demás, ‘sí’ a la educación,‘sí’ a más oportunidades de trabajo. Si decimos ‘sí’ a todas esas cosas, no habrá espacio para las drogas ilícitas, el abuso del alcohol ni para otras formas de adicción”.


Biskupi z Illinois wypowiadają się
przeciwko legalizacji marihuany

Zgromadzenie Ogólne Stanu Illinois rozpatrywać będzie projekt przepisów dopuszczających wykorzystanie marihuany w celach rekreacyjnych. Katolicy Biskupi Illinois, w trosce o dobro ogółu, postulują odrzucenie tej legislacji.

Dane gromadzone przez agencje rządowe i grupy interesu publicznego wskazują, że spożycie narkotyków stało się powszechną plagą we współczesnych społeczeństwach. Zaledwie kilka lat temu stawaliśmy wobec licznych historii dzieci osieroconymi przez rodziców zmarłych w wyniku przedawkowania heroiny. Dzisiaj jesteśmy świadkami kryzysów związanych z opiatami i obserwujemy kolejne ofiary takich substancji. Legalizacja marihuany spowoduje dalsze pogłębienie tego problemu.

Rzecznicy legalizacji twierdzą, że marihuana nie powoduje uzależnienia, jednak publikowane badania naukowe wyraźnie wskazują, że jest inaczej. Propagatorzy nowej legalizacji twierdzą również, że większość osób stosujących marihuanę nigdy nie sięgnie po silniejsze narkotyki, a jednak prowadzone badania wyraźnie wskazują, że osoby uzależnione od twardych narkotyków rozpoczynały zazwyczaj od alkoholu i marihuany.

Rzecznicy legalizacji słusznie wskazują na nierówności rasowe w kontekście populacji osób osadzonych w naszych więzieniach sugerując jednocześnie, że wyroki związane z marihuaną często skutkują wpadnięciem w życiowe błędne koło i trwałym uwikłaniem w systemie karnym. Uznajemy prawdziwość tej obserwacji zauważając jendak, że wprowadzone niedawno reformy sądownicze powinny pomóc w odwróceniu tego trendu w najbliższych latach, ponieważ zgodnie z obecnymi przepisami posiadanie marihuany w ilości mniejszej niż 10 gramów skutkować będzie jedynie grzywną w wysokości 200 dolarów, bez pozbawienia wolności.

Punkty oferujące dostęp do marihuany przeznaczonej do celów leczniczych funkcjonujące już w Illinois są obecnie w pełnej gotowości, aby przekształcić się w punkty handlowe obsługujące wszystkich klientów powyżej 21 roku życia. Przedsiębiorcy ci są jednocześnie czołowymi rzecznikami poglądu, zgodnie z którym legalizacja skutkować będzie likwidacją czarnego rynku. Lecz czy naprawdę tak się stanie? Czy może bardziej prawdopodobne jest, że na czarnym rynku oferowana będzie po prostu marihuana w niższej cenie i dostępna dla osób nieletnich?

W kontekście obecnych inicjatyw ustawodawczych należy pamiętać, że rozważana kwestia dotyczy nie tylko legalizacji marihuany lecz również dopuszczenia komercyjnego obrotu narkotykiem na skalę przemysłową, z korzyścią dla budżetu stanowego. Władze stanowe działające w imieniu i na rzecz ogółu powinny chronić obywateli.

Zwracamy się do prawodawców, aby powiedzieli stanowcze „nie” legalizacji marihuany, zgodnie ze słowami Papieża Franciszka, który w 2014 roku w następujący sposób odniósł się do marihuany i innych narkotyków rekreacyjnych: „… Aby wypowiedzieć owo ‘nie’, trzeba najpierw powiedzieć ‘tak’ życiu, ‘tak’ miłości, ‘tak’ innym ludziom, ‘tak’ edukacji, ’tak’ lepszym perspektywom zawodowym. Jeżeli powiemy ‘tak’ wszystkim tym rzeczom, w naszym życiu po prostu nie będzie już miejsca na nielegalne narkotyki, nadużywanie alkoholu czy inne uzależnienia.”


Illinois bishops urge Congress to enact immigration reform in statement on DACA participants

Illinois bishops urge Congress to enact immigration reform in statement on DACA participants

Illinois bishops today called for Congress to quickly enact immigration reform in order to resolve the plight of young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

"As Pope Francis has said, it is time to stop treating our immigrants as 'pawns on the chessboard of humanity,'" the bishops wrote in a statement. "It is urgent that you put an end to 'deferred action' and provide a permanent solution." 

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in September announced on behalf of President Donald Trump that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would end in March if Congress did not find a way to keep the nearly 800,000 young adults safe from deportation. The announcment drew swift, harsh criticism from across the political spectrum, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Bishop David Malloy of Rockford.

Nearly 42,000 DACA participants reside in Illinois, where they have built a life by holding jobs, attending college or vocational school, and raising families after President Barack Obama implemented the program by executive order in June 2012.

"This is the only country they truly know," the bishops wrote in the statement. "This is their home!"

Obama instituted DACA to safeguard the young adults known as DREAMers, named after the long-stymied DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act). The program allows applicants to get a renewable, two-year work permit and safety from deportation as long as they had entered the United States before their 16th birthday and before June 2007, and were younger than 31 on June 15, 2012.

The Illinois Catholic faith leaders in the statement assured the DREAMers of their steadfast commitment to accompany them on a path to legal status.

"We are aware of your situation and we will work to assure your immigration status is regularized," the bishops wrote. "You have brought many wonderful assets to this country and our Church, and we are proud to have you among us."

Read the full statement below, or click here for a PDF version.


Statement of Illinois Catholic Bishops Concerning Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

For more than two hundred years people from almost every country of the world have dreamed of making the United States their home. Their dreams are the reason most of us are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. Today, a new generation of dreamers urgently needs our help to contribute their gifts to our country.

Even though we have the right to manage immigration for the sake of the common good, we can never become callous to the yearning of others to become citizens of this great country. Indeed, the continuous flow of immigrants is, in large measure, the reason our nation is great.

One particular group of immigrants today languishes in a cruel legal limbo. They are the hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to this country when they were still children. Today these young adults are fully integrated into our society and culture, holding jobs and starting their own families. This is the only country they truly know. This is their home!

When Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform, President Barack Obama signed an executive order, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA. This order allowed these young people, who came to be known as “Dreamers,” to remain in the country for a period of time but offered no path to permanent legal status. Citing constitutional concerns, President Trump has revoked the executive order and called upon Congress to resolve the matter legislatively.

We call on the members of the Illinois congressional delegation to enact comprehensive immigration reform. We ask you to provide the young people among us, who truly have no other home, with secure legal status. As Pope Francis has said, it is time to stop treating our immigrants as “pawns on the chessboard of humanity.” It is urgent that you put an end to “deferred action” and provide a permanent solution. 

We offer our compassion and support to the Dreamers. We are aware of your situation and we will work to assure your immigration status is regularized.  You have brought many wonderful assets to this country and our Church, and we are proud to have you among us.