Cardinal Dolan Op-Ed Calls Out Gov. Cuomo for Abortion ‘Celebration,’ Church Dissent

New York archbishop said that Cuomo also unfairly characterized Church’s engagement with bill on statutes of limitations for sex-abuse cases.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Gov. Andrew Cuomo attend 2017 Columbus Day parade.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Gov. Andrew Cuomo attend 2017 Columbus Day parade. (photo: lev radin / Shutterstock)

NEW YORK CITY — The archbishop of New York said Monday that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has insulted the Church, flaunted publicly his dissent from Catholic doctrine, and celebrated the Jan. 22 signing of the state’s “ghoulish radical abortion-expansion law.”

“Instead of admitting that abortion is always a tragic choice and that life-giving alternatives should be more vigorously promoted, the governor and his ‘progressive’ supporters celebrated signing the bill. At the governor’s command, even the lights of the Freedom Tower sparkled with delight,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote in a Jan. 28 op-ed in the New York Post.

The state’s recently passed Reproductive Health Act, Cardinal Dolan said, “allows for an abortion right up to the moment of birth; drops all charges against an abortionist who allows an aborted baby, who somehow survives the scissors, scalpel, saline and dismemberment, to die before his eyes; mandates that, to make an abortion more convenient and easy, a physician need not perform it; and might even be used to suppress the conscience rights of health care professionals not to assist in the grisly procedures.”

“All this in a state that already had the most permissive abortion laws in the country,” the cardinal added.

“Those who once told us that abortion had to remain safe, legal and rare now have made it dangerous, imposed and frequent.”

Cardinal Dolan said that Cuomo had also unfairly characterized the Catholic Church’s engagement with a state bill concerning statutes of limitations for sexual-abuse cases.

The bill, the Child Victims Act, passed Jan. 28, met with some initial resistance from New York’s bishops, who had expressed concern about retroactive provisions in the bill. Once those provisions were amended, the state’s bishops dropped their concerns.

But Cardinal Dolan said Cuomo had leveled “insults and caricatures” against the Church, while trying to “blame the Church, and only the Church, for blocking this bill.”

Cardinal Dolan said that New York’s bishops “have long supported a reform of the inadequate laws around the sexual abuse of minors. Yes, we and many others expressed reservations about one element, the retroactive elimination of the civil statute of limitations, but urged dramatic reform that, in many ways, was tougher than what was being proposed by legislators. A month ago we renewed that stance, and even dropped our objections to the ‘look-back’ section if all victims would benefit. The governor was aware of all this.”

Cardinal Dolan’s criticisms of Cuomo were direct: “Why would he publicly brag in a political address about his dissent from timeless and substantive Church belief? Why would he quote Pope Francis out of context as an applause line to misrepresent us bishops here as being opposed to our Holy Father? Why did he reduce the sexual abuse of minors, a broad societal and cultural curse that afflicts every family, public school, religion and government program, to a ‘Catholic problem?’”

“I’m a pastor, not a politician, but I feel obliged to ask these questions, as daily do I hear them from my people, as well as colleagues from other creeds. I’ve been attacked in the past when I asked — sadly and reluctantly — if the party that my folks proudly claimed as their own, the Democrats, had chosen to alienate faithful Catholic voters. Now you know why I asked,” Cardinal Dolan added.

Cardinal Dolan said that while the state’s Democrats purport to be progressive, their recent abortion bill is anything but.

The Democrats for Life of America agreed.

In a Jan. 29 statement, the group said: “Abortion is big business in New York, with unlimited public funding and an abortion rate twice the national average. The governor’s new law will not address the high abortion rate, nor will it help pregnant women who feel pressured or coerced into abortion. The law will help influential and financially flush abortion corporations increase their customer base and profit margin. One in three aborted children were African-American, and one in four were Hispanic. The new law further exploits women, particularly minority populations who are overrepresented in these numbers,” the group said.
“We call on New York legislators — particularly Democrats — to embark on a mission to make New York, the state, have the lowest abortion rate in the nation. The estimated $18 million that would be spent yearly on abortion could be put toward programs to prevent pregnancy, including contraction and sex education, prenatal and postnatal health care, public housing, affordable child care and paid maternity leave. Furthermore, we recommend outreach to minority communities to vastly bring down the perceived targeting of women and babies of color.”

“As Democrats, we advocate for progressive solutions to problems facing the weakest in society: the poor, minorities, women and children — even if they are yet to be born. New York should repeal this anti-women law, and no other state should replicate it,” the statement added.

While Cardinal Dolan has been outspoken in his opposition to the abortion law and Cuomo’s support for it, some Catholics have called for him to excommunicate or impose some other canonical sanctions on the governor, but Cardinal Dolan has recently indicated he is unlikely to do so. The cardinal’s office did not respond to a request from CNA for comments on that possibility.