Catholic Church praises Quinn, this once

  • Gov. Pat Quinn

    Gov. Pat Quinn

Updated 3/9/2011 3:19 PM

As a Catholic, Gov. Pat Quinn and the church haven't always found themselves on the same sides of issues.

Wednesday was an exception. The governor signed legislation banning the death penalty in Illinois on Ash Wednesday, the holy day that Catholics begin their Lenten season.


Quinn's forehead was not marked with ashes from last year's palm fronds as he signed the legislation formally putting an end to the state's practice of capital punishment and commuting all death penalty sentences to life terms.

All the same, he was praised by church officials for his action, and the timing of it.

"There is no better time for this landmark law to be approved," the Catholic Conference of Illinois, the lobbying arm for the six dioceses in the state, said in a statement. "The end of the use of the death penalty advances the development of a culture of life in our state."

Earlier this year, the Catholic Conference of Illinois lashed out at Democratic lawmakers, including Quinn, as they advanced legislation permitting civil unions in Illinois. By allowing unmarried couples many of the same legal rights as those who are married, the conference said, the "sanctity" of marriages between men and women was jeopardized.

Quinn, who during his campaign for governor predicted that there were enough votes to pass civil union legislation in the fall veto session, noted that he follows his conscience over official church position.

"I follow my conscience. What would Jesus do?" he told the Daily Herald editorial board.