Recently, some in the Catholic community have called for the excommunication of Governor Andrew Cuomo and those Catholic members of the legislature who supported the change in the law to allow for the termination of a pregnancy up until the moment of birth.
Such calls are very understandable. The gravity of evil merits such a call. Excommunication is meant to have a medicinal effect. It is intended to be so severe a penalty that the subject of the excommunication repents of evil, reforms his/her life and turns back to the Lord. In this case, the governor is, in fact, taunting the Catholic community and would wear the excommunication as a badge of honor.
The culture we live in is poisonous to faith. New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who is a Democrat and Catholic, is now being targeted by pro-choice groups for his opposition to this legislation. Indeed, perhaps justified, the excommunication of the governor would be presented to the broader culture as the Church victimizing the governor. In the end, it would be a distraction from the horror of the crime and evil that cries out to Almighty God for vengeance.
We should not be naïve enough to think that the passage of the expansion of the abortion franchise was not strategically coordinated with the passage of the Child Victims Act. The news was meant to tie these two issues together. Both bills were passed without a public hearing, attesting to the state of our democracy in the State of New York.
The governor seems to have a remarkable capacity for dissembling words, which is disingenuous, changing his position on at least two occasions when he spoke to the Bishops of the State. On those occasions, Governor Cuomo indicated his opposition to the law based on its merits. As a lawyer, he waxed eloquently on the necessity of a statute of limitations in the law.
The truth is, the Bishops of New York State had expressed reservations in past versions of the Child Victims Act because it would have shielded public institutions from liability. Rather our position was that a full disclosure of all abuse – not just some abuse – was essential if we were to curb the scourge of child abuse. Once the legislature strengthened the bill this week to include all survivors, we dropped our opposition to the legislation.
I know that so many in the Catholic community are outraged by decisions that were made by some in Church leadership long ago. We Catholics will pay the price for those decisions for generations to come. In fact, before there was any change in the law, we in the Catholic community sought to take dramatic steps to protect children in our care. Indeed, since the Dallas Charter was implemented in 2002 we have significantly reduced allegations of abuse. In our diocese in Brooklyn and Queens, in the last 17 years there were two allegations of misconduct. Moreover, at great expense, the Diocese of Brooklyn sought to discover those that were harmed in our institutions and invited them to come forward and to have the explicit acknowledgment of the wrongdoing as well as compensation for the offense that caused such terrible pain.
Governor Cuomo and the legislature have done the right thing passing the Child Victims Act, but not the Reproductive Health Act.
Therefore, I propose that we do not excommunicate the governor, but rather that we pray for him every single day; perhaps it would be good to include him by name in the Prayer of the Faithful. Specifically, that his eyes be opened to the sacredness of all human life. While excommunication may not have a favorable effect, as a person of faith, I am convinced that by prayer we will move mountains and even turn the stone-cold heart to flesh.
Yet, it is not my place to judge the governor. We should pray for him. Andrew Cuomo was educated in Diocese of Brooklyn schools, at St. Gerard Majella and Archbishop Molloy High School, both in Queens. He says he is Catholic, but there are incongruities in that statement. Still it is not for us to judge, but only God to do so, as He is a merciful God.