Reports That Diocese Forbids Petitions Are False
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
January 25, 2024
 The Parents Matter Coalition (PMC), as reported in the Jan. 12 issue of The Observer, began a petition drive late last fall to get a pro-parent question on the November 2024 election ballot.
Since that time, some talk radio programs in Northern Illinois and LifeSite News have reported that some Illinois bishops are “forbidding parishes from hosting drives to sign a petition for a state ballot advisory question aimed at legally requiring parental consent for medical interventions such as abortions and ‘sex changes’ for minors.”
This is absolutely false.  While the Diocese of Rockford can’t speak for other dioceses, no media outlets have contacted the Rockford Diocese regarding these petitions.
While there is no formal, written endorsement of the PMC effort, there is no diocesan prohibition on the faithful either signing such a petition or encouraging people to do so. The content of the petition is in line with Church teaching, but, as with any third party effort or non-sacramental activity,  petition signings or gathering should be conducted outside of the celebration of  Mass. 
Bob Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois (CCI) told LifeSite News that there was some apprehension about the petition effort. He did not imply that the context of the effort isn’t worthy.
“After careful consideration and analysis, CCI believes that this effort may prove to be a futile use of our time and resources, with little impact on public policy. While we understand the desire to engage public opinion on certain matters, it is crucial for us to weigh the potential benefits against the substantial time and resources that an advisory ballot initiative demands,” according to CCI.
Advisory ballot initiatives, by their nature, are non-binding and do not carry the force of law. As a result, even if the public expresses a clear preference on a particular issue, there is no guarantee that policymakers will act upon the results. CCI said “this raises questions about the practical impact 
of our efforts on shaping public policy.”
“As faithful Catholics, the Bishop and the staff of the Life and Family Evangelization Office understand and support the intent of the petition to promote parental rights and protect children from social activism that directly opposes the teachings of the Catholic Church,” according to Therese Stahl director of the Life and Family Evangelization Office,
“As a Catholic parent, I firmly agree that the consent of a child’s parents or guardians should be received before our children are subjected to any medical procedure or activity indicated in the petition. 
“Further as diocesan staff, it is our responsibility to be good stewards of the resources that the people of the diocese have generously provided us. We regularly balance the effectiveness of encouraging various levels of public activism by parishioners and parishes. An intelligent, informed choice of initiatives to be undertaken is particularly necessary in the State of Illinois, given the rampant push against the culture of life. 
“The diocese has not forbidden a parish-led drive for signing the petition. We have, however, shared the limited impact on public policy of the petition and the unfortunate need to choose more efficacious actions to promote on a parish-wide level. Our office provides informed advice to parishes on public policy issues,” Stahl told The Observer.
Stahl encourages all those passionate about prolife efforts to engage in contacting their legislators about active legislation before offensive policies become law.
To find out more about PMC and the petition visit
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