Press Releases


The Catholic Conference of Illinois released the following statement on the death of Cardinal George. Click here for a PDF version.

April 17, 2015

Statement on Cardinal George’s death
from the staff of the Catholic Conference of Illinois

CHICAGO – The staff of the Catholic Conference of Illinois is greatly saddened by the news of the death of Cardinal George.  He served as chairman of the Catholic Conference from his installation as Archbishop of Chicago in May 1997 until his retirement In November 2014.

“I was very sorry to learn of Cardinal George’s death,” said Executive Director Robert Gilligan. “I had the great privilege of working with Cardinal George for over 15 years. He was one of the most holy and intelligent men I have ever met.  He was my boss, but also an important mentor, and I dare say, my friend. I will miss him greatly.”





Illinois' Catholic bishops today sent a letter to Illinois House members to reject House Bill 4013 and its call for public funding of abortions. Both the House and Senate reconvene today after a two-week spring break. House Bill 4013 passed the House Human Services Committee on a partisan 8-6 vote on March 18.

Read the letter below, or in PDF form. Read the accompanying press release. View the letter in Spanish and Polish.


April 14, 2015

Dear Representative,

We, the Catholic bishops of Illinois, write in regard to House Bill 4013, legislation which is a radical departure from longstanding Illinois health policy. As it allows taxpayer money to pay for abortions and funds grants to organizations that advocate for and perform abortions, we ask that you join us in opposing it.

These specific provisions of the legislation proposed are troubling:

  • It removes the prohibition on state employees' health insurance plans from paying for elective abortions.
  • It removes the prohibition on using taxpayer money to pay for elective abortions in the state's Medicaid program.
  • It removes the prohibition on state-funded grants to organizations that refer, counsel for, or perform abortions. Current law calls for those grants to go to organizations that assist women experiencing problem pregnancies.

The American people have opposed the use of public money to support or promote elective abortion. As recently as March 2014, a CNN/ORC poll of over 1,000 adults nationwide found the public opposes the use of public funds for abortion by a margin of 56 percent to 39 percent. Additionally, there is nearly a forty-year history of federal legislation embracing this principle through the Hyde amendment to annual appropriations bills, and in numerous similar provisions governing a wide range of domestic and foreign programs.

The provisions of House Bill 4013 will force all taxpayers, even those opposed as a matter of conscience, to participate in funding the abortion industry. This is a radical shift in public policy as it totally disregards the fact that an overwhelming majority of Americans steadfastly have opposed contributing their personal resources through tax dollars for the destruction of innocent human life.  We ask that you reject this bill and not allow the use of public funds for abortion.

As we thank you for your thoughtful consideration of our request, this letter gives us the opportunity to express our gratitude for your public service and our high regard for the sacrifices it involves for you and your families.


Most Reverend Blase J. Cupich           
Archbishop of Chicago               

Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton           
Bishop of Belleville             

Most Reverend R. Daniel Conlon                
Bishop of Joliet                  

Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C.
Bishop of Peoria

Most Reverend David J. Malloy
Bishop of Rockford

Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki        
Bishop of Springfield in Illinois



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.