Following a multi-year effort led by Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, a Greek Orthodox bishop from Chicago, then-Governor Patrick Quinn signed the abolition of the death penalty in the state of Illinois.
Bishop Demetrios led the effort alongside a team of activists representing various fields from throughout the state who were present at the signing ceremony with Quinn.
For Bishop Demetrios, who is well-known for his social justice causes as they pertain to him as a Greek Orthodox Christian hierarch, the matter was personal.
For many years, he ministered to a Greek Orthodox Christian man on death row. For the bishop, it was never about the crime or what the individual was convicted of doing, but about the sanctity of life, as is believed in the Greek Orthodox Christian faith.
“If we claim to be pro life, we must be consistent and we are pro-life from womb to tomb,” Bishop Demetrios said at that time.
“Christianity cannot put people into categories of profane or sacred. The human person is made in the image and likeness of God, and all people are sacred. No matter what the horrific nature of their crime, their innate sanctity of a human remains,” the bishop said.
The United States and China are the world’s only industrialized nations that practice capital punishment. The United States is also one of only a handful of nations that executes juvenile offenders, among them are Iran, Iraq and Yemen.
The European Union, Turkey and most nations of the industrialized world have all abolished the death penalty.
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