But on that decisive morning of March 9, he laid aside the secular factors and opened his Bible to a passage in II Corinthians about human imperfection. He prayed. And when he signed the bill striking down the death penalty, he cited one influence by name: Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago.
The cardinal has been dead for nearly 15 years. To the last days of his life, he advocated what he termed a “seamless garment” or “consistent ethic of life,” which charged Roman Catholics with the task of ending abortion, poverty, nuclear war, euthanasia and capital punishment. For of all his eloquence, however, he had never built the constituency to transform theological precepts into public policy.
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.”
Monday, March 28, 2011
Religion and the Death Penalty
At The New York Times, Samuel G. Freedman writes on the decision of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to sign a bill ending the death penalty in the state.