Cardinal Timothy Dolan blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature over two recent pieces of legislation, one that codified federal abortion rights into New York state law, and one that would to extend the state statute of limitations to give victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to seek criminal charges and file lawsuits.
In Tuesday's New York Post, Dolan ripped Cuomo for celebrating the Reproductive Health Act. He also said the governor is alienating Catholic voters by scapegoating the church over the Child Victims Act, which would to extend the state statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse. Cuomo hasn't signed that bill yet but is likely to do so.
"Genuine progressives work to pass a 'DREAM act,' a 'voters rights act,' a 'prison reform act,' and we pastors of the church pitch in to support them," Dolan wrote. "That's government at its best. I pray that spirit returns."
"We are supposed to pop champagne corks over this bill? I thought, 'My God. Supporting it is bad enough, but to grin about it and toast one another and celebrate it?' I just think it's a tough day," Dolan said on the SiriusXM Catholic Channel on Tuesday afternoon. Cuomo had One World Trade Center and other landmarks lit in pink after he signed the bill.
"Cardinal Dolan agrees with President Trump that we should roll back Roe v. Wade. It was a bad decision. New Yorkers, women and men, overwhelmingly do not want to go back to pre-1973 when abortion in some places was illegal, which created horrendous options for the mother. We believe a woman has the right to control her own reproductive health," Cuomo said on WNYC Radio, responding to the op-ed.
The church had been a leading opponent to the Child Victims Act 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.
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.'"
Cuomo shrugged off criticism — and even calls from other Roman Catholic leaders for his excommunication from the church — over his support of the bills.
Saying he is duty-bound to separate his religious views from his work as governor, Cuomo defended his support for the state's Reproductive Health Act, which he signed last week.
"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 Dolan rejected those calls in a statement, saying excommunication "should not be used as a weapon" against politicians who support abortion rights.
"The church's influence has really, pretty much, diminished and this certainly seems to confirm it," Moses said.
Part of that diminishing influence may be fueled by Catholics who support abortion rights. A recent Siena College poll found that 59 percent of New York Catholics sided with the governor on the issue.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.
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