Hem Needed

The New York Times celebrates Illinois governor Pat Quinn’s moral wrestling with capital punishment:

With the stroke of the governor’s pen, the cardinal has been posthumously vindicated on at least one piece of that seamless garment. In doing so, Mr. Quinn, a Democrat, also ratified the cardinal’s belief that religious thought has a place in the formulation of law, a premise the governor’s fellow liberals generally resist.

“I think it’s indispensable,” Mr. Quinn said in a telephone interview this week. “When you’re elected and sworn into office, that oath really involves your whole life experience, your religious experience. You bring that to bear on all the issues.”

That cardinal was Joseph Bernadin. But in referencing a “consistent ethic of life,” the Times leaves out the fact that Quinn is a supporter of legal abortion.

The Times explains:

Well before Cardinal Bernardin was named Chicago’s archbishop in 1982, Mr. Quinn was receiving a complete Catholic education — from the sisters of St. Isaac Jogues Elementary School, the Dominicans of Fenwick High School and the Jesuits of Georgetown University. His brother, John, teaches history at Fenwick.

Unfortunately for the most innocent among us, it’s not-so complete in practice.



  • eamon

    Lord when did I ever, by mistake, bomb your wedding feast and burn your entire village to the ground? And in answering he will say, whenever you were silent when your nation did that, so you did it to me.

  • Jordanes551

    It’s debatable whether or not the abolition of the death penalty should be praised or is a step in the right direction. There is certainly nothing in any of Christ’s teachings that requires the abolition of capital punishment, whereas divine revelation is clear that abortion is always a most grievous crime.

    • Francis

      Jordanes551, check the catechism. When a society has the means with which to incarcerate someone who is a danger to society, capital punishment is not compatible with reverence for life. Christ teaches love and forgiveness, and capital punishment is not consistent with the teachings of Christ. In addition, the idea that the very center of our faith, Jesus Christ, was himself the victim of capital punishment applied unjustly, ought to at least give us tremendous hesitation before we support executing human beings.

      • Jordanes551

        Yes, I am aware of the prudential judgment of John Paul II expressed in that passage of the Catechism. I’m also aware that the Church has had a lot more to say about capital punishment than the brief expostulations in that passage of the Catechism (and indeed that the Catechism’s current statements are a revision of the original edition which was in much more continuity with Tradition and Scripture on this point than it is now). The statement “Capital punishment is not consistent with the teachings of Christ” is irreconcilable with the infallible doctrine of St. Paul, who reminds us that the secular authorities are instituted by God and do not bear the sword in vain. In addition, God instructed the Israelites to use capital punishment, and God cannot instruct us to do evil. Indisputably we should hesitate before using this power, but the notion that capital punishment is contrary to Christ’s teachings, or is an intrinsic evil, cannot be reconciled with the Catholic Faith.

    • Brian C

      The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the death penalty is permissible only in situations where there are no other means available to protect the citizens. This does not describe the United States in the 21st century, therefore it clear that from the perspective of Catholic teaching, the abolition of the death penalty in Illinois (or anywher in the US) is a step in the right direction.

      • Jordanes551

        That’s a matter of opinion, not a matter of the Faith.

  • Francis

    Brian C, I agree. For some reason, the columnists on this site cannot celebrate a step in the right direction.

  • John Powers

    Any influence of Catholic Social Teachings on Quinn would be purely political expediency.

    Numerous health service providers supporting the poor and sick have their funding held up while Quinn blows taxpayer money on $200 Million State Owned hotels and other nonsense.

  • Brian C

    Yes, he should not support legal abortion, especially as a Catholic. But a state has just abolished the use of capital punishment. I would expect this site to praise this action, and possibly have someone do a post on the current state of the death penalty in the US (are other states likely to do the same, is support for abolishing the death penalty growing among the public, among Catholics…) Instead, it’s just ‘well, that’s nice, but..’. I guess I’m just a glass is half full kind of person, or at least I try to be.

    • Tom

      Half-morality is non-morality. Since he proclaims to hold himself to a Catholic standard of ethics, Quinn actually subverts them – and himself – when he sticks only to the guns which are politically helpful for himself.



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