New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, known for his highly liberal politics and his public proclamation of the Catholic Faith in spite of living a life and supporting policies which are directly in contradiction to the faith he associates with, said that he does not care if the Catholic Bishops excommunicate him or not because he has “his own” beliefs:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday shrugged off criticism and even calls from Roman Catholic leaders for his excommunication from the church over his support of a new state abortion law.
Saying he is duty-bound to separate his religious views from his work as governor, Cuomo, a Democrat, defended his support for the state’s Reproductive Health Act, which he signed last week. The bill mostly codifies abortion rights protected in Roe v. Wade and other federal abortion rulings.
“I have my own Catholic beliefs, how I live my life. … That is my business as a Catholic,” Cuomo said. “I don’t govern as a Catholic. I don’t legislate as a Catholic.”
Catholic bishops in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Tyler, Texas, tweeted support for excommunicating Cuomo from the church after he signed the abortion bill last week.
“Excommunication is to be not a punishment but to bring the person back into the Church. It’s like medicine for them,” tweeted Knoxville Bishop Rick Stika. “But this vote is so hideous and vile that it warrants the act.”
A spokesman for New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan rejected those calls in a statement, saying excommunication “should not be used as a weapon” against politicians who support abortion rights. But Dolan himself blasted Cuomo in an op-ed published Tuesday in The New York Post.
The piece called the abortion bill “ghoulish” but focused instead on Cuomo’s comments about another piece of legislation, known as the Child Victims Act, that would extend the statute of limitations to give abuse victims more time to sue or seek criminal charges. In his State of the State address, Cuomo included a quote from Pope Francis that “the church cannot remain indifferent to this, and the church must punish such priests.”
That displeased Dolan, who wrote that Cuomo was using the Pope’s comments out of context as “an applause line.” He said the governor “insults and caricatures the church” and tries to “reduce the sexual abuse of minors … to a ‘Catholic problem.'”
The church had been a leading opponent to the bill until it dropped its opposition last week when the legislation was revised to treat public and private schools the same. The bill passed nearly unanimously Monday. (source, source)
This response in all the more reason why he needs to be excommunicated.
Cuomo is not a good person at all, and certainly not a good Catholic. His response is that of a person who does not care, and to say publicly that his faith does not guide him at all is his public proclamation of apostasy.
It is true that the bishops do not have much power over him in terms of government. However, excommunication is the real power that they have. It is the spiritual force of their offices which they are charged with operating. If they cannot stop him, then the formal expulsion of him from participation is a sign that he is not welcome until he repents of his objectively evil actions in supporting specifically the murder of children and opening the way for infanticide.
It is true that the power to do this is in the hands of the local bishop, and this would be specifically Cardinal Dolan. It is a greater scandal not that Cuomo is an apostate, for that has been known for a long time, but that Dolan refuses to do his job and in so doing is giving scandal to the Church by appearing to support him publicly.
In the New Testament, there was a conflict over whether or not Christians who came from gentile backgrounds had to undergo the Jewish rituals of the old law in order to be recognized as true Christians. St. Peter, the first Pope, said that they did not have to, for he was preserved from error in so far as upholding the Church teaching on faith and morals. The entire incident, known as the Council of Jerusalem, is narrated in Acts 11.
However, on a personal level neither he nor anybody else is preserved from error or even giving the perception of error, and such was the case when St. Peter refused to sit with gentile converts, but chose to sit with Christians belonging to the “judaizing” faction and publicly separates himself from the gentile converts. This was the result of the conflict between Sts. Peter and Paul in Galatians 2, where Paul famously “rebuked him to his face” for his actions.
The conflict was not one of heresy here, as St. Peter clearly does not deny the validity of gentile conversions. However, his personal actions gave the perception that the “judaizing” faction was favored over the gentile faction because of their Jewish past, and that one may be deceived into believing that one had to follow the old Jewish laws in order to be a “better” Christian.
St. Paul was absolutely right to criticize St. Peter, setting as an example for all of Christian history that the Pope is not above the laity in terms of his accountability to the teachings of the Church, and that while Christians are to obey their leaders, they are not to obey immoral commands from said leaders because the authority of the leaders does not come from their persons, but the fulfillment of their office in accordance with the preservation of the deposit of Faith given by Christ to His Church.
Dolan needs to be called out for the fact that by his actions, specifically his refusal to excommunicate Cuomo, he is giving scandal to the Church just as St. Peter did in the New Testament.
St. Peter repented of his actions. It remains to be seen if Dolan will do the same, for thus far he has only settled himself into his decision and just as the Church in the US has done too often for the last century, is likely hoping that the entire controversy disappears from public sign and that things would continue on “as normal.”
But things are not going back to normal. For those who have persevered in the Faith, they have continued to “gird their loins” and have taken a much more public stance against such actions, with the example of St. Paul, are rebuking prelates who are publicly unfaithful or divisive for the objective good of the Church and her mission to the entire world.