Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke out about the upcoming papal visit in an exclusive interview with Zack Fink. He filed this report.
Governor Andrew Cuomo hasn't spoken at length about the Pope's visit, at least not publicly. In a somewhat personal interview, though, the governor explained why he thinks Pope Francis is so exciting, not just for Catholic New Yorkers, but for people of all religions.
"In some ways, ironically, the Pope's message isn't even religious. It is so universal, that it is just humanitarian. It's communitarian. It's help one another, get along with one another—which is universal," Cuomo said.
Governor Cuomo grew up in a religious household in Queens, and attended Catholic school where he was an alter boy. The governor has seen six different Popes in his lifetime. But according to Cuomo, Pope Francis is one of the most exciting, because he reminds people of what the church is all about.
"The Pope is probably, in my lifetime, the first person who has made it that clear, and the first church official who has spoken to what I believe is the essence of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Without the complications, the bureacracy, the rules, the sanctions. He is the purest," Cuomo said.
Governor Cuomo's father, Governor Mario Cuomo, made a famous speech at Notre Dame University in 1984 where he spoke about the need to balance his beliefs as a Catholic while simultaneously upholding the law as governor. Mario Cuomo had come under pressure from the Church over the issue of abortion, which the church strongly opposes. Mario Cuomo was pro-choice.
"We must allow others the same freedom, even if occasionally it produces conduct by them which we would hold to be sinful. I protect my right to be a Catholic by preserving your right to be a Jew or a Protestant, or a non-believer or anything else you choose," the senior Cuomo said.
Andrew Cuomo says that tension between the Church and governing as a modern Democrat is less of an issue for him, and his generation of politicians.
"For me, there is less tension. My father had a lot tension with the church. And really the earlier generation of Catholic politicians had more tension with the Church because the Church was trying to tell people, 'You should govern as a Catholic.' And my father and many other Catholic elected officials were saying at the time, 'No, I live my life as a Catholic. I govern according to the constitution, the laws and the oath,'" Cuomo said.
The governor has had a tough year on a personal level with the loss of his father, who died in January, and the breast cancer diagnosis of his live-in girlfriend, Sandra Lee, back in May. Cuomo says tough times often draw people back to their faith.
"I think we can go through times in life where we have greater need. That people find religion when they need religion. In the dark days when they are sad, when they are threatened, when they are afraid. They will run to that religion, whatever that religion may be," said Cuomo.
According to the governor, Pope Francis is the closest pope in his lifetime to really capture the essence of what the Church has always meant to him.
"It's basically the lesson of Jesus, and the lesson of Jesus was very simple. You did not need a complicated translation. Jesus came down to one word and that word was 'love.' That is what Jesus was about," Cuomo said.