Why Hasn’t New York’s Catholic Leadership Confronted Andrew Cuomo?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that people who oppose abortion and same-sex sex are radicals who are not welcomed in New York. Does this include the millions of practicing Roman Catholics and the priests and bishops as well?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s a practicing Catholic. He attends church with his live-in girlfriend, supports abortion on demand, and is all in for the legalization of homosexual marriage. Where is the priest of his parish? Where is the Bishop of his diocese? Why are silent?

Are they afraid of reprisals?

Russian Orthodox priests in the Ukraine are standing in the frigid cold resisting the dictates of their government as they stand between soldiers with loaded weapons and angry protestors:

“As a barricade of blazing tires belched thick black smoke in Kiev last week, a line of priests stood between hundreds of angry protesters and ominous riot police.

“The priests have been one of the most visually arresting parts of the protests that have gripped this former Soviet republic for the last two months. . .

“Every freezing morning, priests sing prayers to the demonstrators gathered on the Ukrainian capital’s main square, a solemn and soothing interlude to hours of vehement speeches calling for revolution.

“They have been an element of calm and aid, even providing shelter to protesters who had been beaten and were in fear of the police. When police violently dispersed an early protest gathering, many of the injured and the frightened took sanctuary in the St. Michaels Monastery, a hilltop complex in the heart of Kiev.”

It’s possible that the Russian Orthodox Church learned a lesson from its passivity during the Bolshevik Revolution: “It is a sad but irrefutable fact that the Russian Orthodox Church at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution was engaged in a fruitless attempt to preserve its religious treasures (chalices, vestments, paintings, icons, etc.) and was therefore unable to relate meaningfully to the tremendous social upheavals then taking place.”1

Where are New York’s Catholic priests and bishops? Why aren’t they standing in the gap opposing the fascist governor of New York and his attack on people of good will and moral integrity?

Ecclesiastical confrontation and even excommunication used to be serious business. Consider the 1964 film Beckett that starred Richard Burton as Thomas Becket and Peter O’Toole as King Henry II.

Henry was in continuous conflict with the elderly Archbishop of Canterbury, who opposed the taxation of Church property that the king wanted to use to support his military campaigns in France. “Bishop, I must hire the Swiss Guards to fight for me — and no one has ever paid them off with good wishes and prayer!”

When Henry heard of the Bishop’s death, he appointed his carousing buddy Thomas Beckett to be the new Archbishop of Canterbury. Beckett takes his new ecclesiastical position seriously. He acts as an archbishop should.

“Shortly thereafter, Becket sides with the Church, throwing Henry into a fury. One of the main bones of contention is Thomas’ excommunication of Lord Gilbert, one of Henry’s most loyal stalwarts, for seizing and ordering the killing of a priest who had been accused of sexual indiscretions with a young girl, before the priest can even be handed over for ecclesiastical trial. Gilbert then refuses to acknowledge his transgressions and seek absolution.”

The battle between king and bishop continues until Beckett is murdered and Henry finally repents.

It’s time that New York’s Catholic leadership leads. Andrew Cuomo denounced the teachings of his own church’s leadership has remained relatively quiet. It’s no wonder that young people consider the modern-day church irrelevant.

  1. Donald G. Bloesch, Crumbling Foundations: Death and Rebirth in an Age of Upheaval (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 30. []