During New York’s COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo found time to write a book, American Crisis.
The only passages I found interesting in this self-serving hagiography are on pages 60 and 61. They attempt to sketch the stormy relationship he and his father have had with the Catholic Church.
On page 60, Cuomo states “I am Catholic but have had my issues with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. I support a woman’s right to choose and marriage equality. The Catholic Church is vehemently opposed to both.”
Cuomo has had more than “issues” with Church hierarchy; he has trampled on the fundamental Church teaching that all persons have rights, from the moment of conception to the moment of death, because they are made in the image of God.
As for same-sex marriage: He ruthlessly used the powers of his office to impose his will on practicing Catholics, Jews and Muslims.
Remember his rant when delivering his 2013 State of the State Address: “It’s her body. It’s her choice.” Then on January 16, 2014, Cuomo announced, on a radio show, that Catholics and others with traditional moral views were unfit citizens who were no longer welcome in New York:
Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right to life, pro-assault weapons, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York because that’s not who New Yorkers are.
Governor Cuomo’s “issues” with his church are, in reality, scandalous.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states that “Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged.”
As for Mario Cuomo, page 61 states that “the Catholic Church threatened my father with excommunication.”
Here’s the background:
On June 24, 1984, three months after John J. O’Connor became the 8th Archbishop of New York, he said during a press conference, “I do not see how a Catholic in good conscience, can vote for an individual expressing himself or herself as favoring abortion.” When asked if a pro-abortion Catholic elected official should be excommunicated, O’Connor replied, “I’d have to think about that.”
His comments, did not make any headlines. But two months later, Governor Cuomo complained to The New York Times, in an interview he requested, that “The Church has never been this aggressively involved [in politics]. Now you have the Archbishop of New York saying that no Catholic can vote for [Mayor] Ed Koch … or Mario Cuomo — anybody who disagrees with him on abortion. …"
O’Connor’s response: “I have never said, anywhere, at any time ‘no Catholic can vote for Ed Koch.’ ... My sole responsibility is to present ... the formal official teaching of the Catholic Church. I leave to those interested in such teachings [to judge how] the public statements of office-holders and candidates [match up.]”
No threat of excommunication.
When Mario Cuomo ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1974, he said he would have voted against New York’s 1970 pro-abortion law.
But after losing to Ed Koch in the N.Y.C. mayoral primary in 1977, Cuomo began moving to the left on social issues, particularly on abortion.
To rationalize his new position, Cuomo said in his famous University of Notre Dame speech on September 13, 1983, “I accept the Church’s teaching on abortion.” But then asked, must I insist you do?
Cuomo went on to argue that one cannot impose one’s moral views “unless they are shared by the pluralistic community at large by consensus.”
On October 18, Archbishop O’Connor, in a speech before a Catholic medical group challenged the Cuomo thesis:
You have to uphold the law, the Constitution says. It does not say that you must agree with the law, or that you cannot work to change the law. ...
There are those who argue that we cannot legislate morality. The reality is that we do legislate behavior every day. .... It is obvious that law is not the entire answer to abortion. Nor is it the entire answer to theft, arson, child abuse, or shooting police officers. Everybody knows that. But who would suggest that we repeal the laws against such crimes because the law is so often broken?
O’Connor reminded his audience, “I recognize the dilemma confronted by some Catholics in political life. I cannot resolve that dilemma for them. As I see it, their disagreement, if they do disagree, is not simply with me [but] with the teaching of the Catholic Church.”
Once again, no threat of excommunication. The claim is a myth.
To get the real story of the relationship Mario and Andrew Cuomo have had with the Catholic Church, I recommend readers pick up a copy of my new book, Mario Cuomo: The Myth and the Man.
George J. Marlin, a former executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the author of "The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact," and "Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy." He is chairman of Aid to the Church in Need-USA. Mr. Marlin also writes for TheCatholicThing.org and the Long Island Business News. Read George J. Marlin's Reports — More Here.
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