Cuomo to Catholics: You’re Not Welcome in NY

Editor’s Note: On Sundays we usually try to focus on spiritual matters, but this column deals with such a direct and serious threat that we thought it urgent to bring it to you today. – Robert Royal 
I was born in New York State and have lived here for more than 61 years. During that time I have paid plenty in state and local taxes and have served the public in a number of capacities including two terms as Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

I am also a Catholic and a member of New York’s Conservative Party, have served on the transition teams of governors-elect George Pataki (R) and Andrew Cuomo (D), and have been a member of Cuomo’s Council of Economic and Fiscal Advisors.

Yet despite my public service and the large chunk of my earnings that have gone to support New York’s governmental maze, according to Governor Cuomo, I should move out of the Empire State.

Why?  Because I am pro-life, oppose same-sex marriage, and have doubts about Cuomo’s 2013 hastily prepared gun legislation (the SAFE Act) that permits you to buy a gun with a 10-round magazine, but bans using more than seven shots if you need to defend yourself.      

Here’s what Cuomo said this past Friday on “The Capital Pressroom,” an Albany radio talk show, about a large segment of NY voters:

Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right to life, pro-assault weapons, anti-gay? Is that who they are?  Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York because that’s not who New Yorkers are.

In an unguarded moment, Governor Cuomo stated publicly what many on the Left have been privately thinking for years: that pro-life and pro-traditional marriage supporters are Ku Klux Klan-like bigots who should either shut up or get out.

Cuomo has not only written off millions of New York Christians and Jews (among others) as unfit citizens, he has yanked the welcome mat from under half the nation’s population, who, public opinion polls indicate, oppose abortion and same-sex marriage.

As for those who “have no place in the state of New York,” the person at the top of that list must be the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan. That’s because Dolan has proudly followed in the footsteps of his predecessors who were unabashed defenders of Church teachings in the public square.

For instance, Cardinal Terence Cooke, NYC’s seventh archbishop (1968-1983), whose cause is being promoted for sainthood, publicly fought the passage of the state’s 1970 liberal abortion bill. And the week Roe v. Wade was handed down by the Supreme Court, he issued a pastoral letter that was read in every parish condemning abortion as a “fundamental moral evil.”  Cooke inaugurated the annual Respect Life week and established “Birth Right,” a service to help pregnant women who choose not to abort their babies.

           1977: Andrew Cuomo watches his father concede the New York City mayoral race.

As for “gay rights,” every year Cooke opposed proposed legislation in New York’s City Council that would have amended the administrative code to outlaw discrimination due to “sexual orientation or affectional preference.” You read that right.

A typical statement expressing the Church’s position, released by Cardinal Cooke in April 1978, reads:

If the bill has an underlying purpose, to advocate and gain approval of homosexual behavior and lifestyle, then there is no way in which the Catholic Church in the City of New York may find it acceptable. And there is no way in which we can remain silent on the issue.
The Catholic Church’s moral teaching differentiates between “orientation and “behavior” for both homosexuals and heterosexuals. While a person’s orientation is not subject to moral evaluation, there is no doubt that a person’s behavior is subject to evaluation. Homosexual behavior and an attendant homosexual life style is not in accord with Catholic moral teaching and is, in fact, harmful to all persons who become involved; heterosexuality is the norm for human behavior.

And lest we forget, in the mid-1970s Cooke had an ally in his fight against abortion and gay rights: Mario Cuomo, father of the current governor.

The New York Times reported during Cuomo the Elders unsuccessful 1974 primary run for lieutenant governor that he said in a televised debate that “he would have voted against the 1970 law that relaxed abortion curbs in the state.”  The New York Daily News and the Post also reported that, in his unsuccessful 1977 run for mayor, Mario said he would veto a gay rights bill “that would give homosexual teachers the right to proselytize or advocate their lifestyle.”

I wonder if Governor Andrew Cuomo, a baptized Catholic and a graduate of Archbishop Molloy High School and Fordham University, will demand that Cooke’s cause for canonization be, well, aborted because the cardinal was an “extremist” for defending the teachings of his Church. Will ask his father, himself a former governor, to leave the state for having politically incorrect thoughts forty years ago?

By claiming that people who disagree with his cultural views “have no place in the state of New York,” Cuomo has joined those whom historian Richard Hofstadter described as “totalitarian liberals,” people who employ illiberal means to achieve so-called liberal reforms.

Cardinal Dolan and the bishops of New York’s other eight dioceses have an obligation to respond and to condemn anyone – especially any Catholic public figure – who threatens those who adhere to Church doctrine.

Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George has predicted that he will die in his bed, his successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr. We may not be quite there yet. But unless Church leaders and others act quickly and forcefully, Catholics and others of traditional moral views may find themselves not simply marginalized, but – if some politicians have their way – facing something very like exile in their own nation.

George J. Marlin, Chairman of the Board of Aid to the Church in Need USA, is the author of The American Catholic Voter and Sons of St. Patrick, written with Brad Miner. His most recent book is Mario Cuomo: The Myth and the Man.