Andrew Cuomo, the Catholic Anti-Catholic

When Andrew Cuomo was running for governor in 2010, he claimed time and again that he wanted to represent and fight for all the people of New York – all, that is, except Catholics.

Since taking office in 2011, Cuomo, who was baptized a Catholic, graduated from Archbishop Molloy H.S. in Queens County and Fordham University, has been hell-bent on offending Catholics and dismissing their beliefs in the public square.

Cuomo’s first assault was on Catholic teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman. He was embarrassed that his state had been “surpassed by many other countries which have legalized same-sex marriage including the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden and Portugal; as well as by many states.”  “Marriage equality,” he declared, “is a question of principle and the state shouldn’t discriminate against same-sex couples who wish to get married.”  He promised to “fight to make sure all couples have equal marriage rights under the law.”

To impose his will on practicing Catholics, Jews, and Muslims, Cuomo ruthlessly used the powers of his office.  He bought off several wavering Republican State Senators – sadly, all baptized Catholics – with promises of appointments if voters should turn them out of office. 

Worse yet, Cuomo bought off the GOP Senate leader Dean Skelos, who had promised NY Cardinal Timothy Dolan that he would never permit the same-sex marriage bill to make it to the floor of the upper legislative chamber.

For a few political crumbs from Cuomo’s table, Skelos broke his word and permitted a roll call, knowing it would pass.  Skelos’ rationale that the days of bottling up bills are over was absurd.  Every year, at least 90 percent of all legislation introduced is bottled up and dies in committee by design.

Cuomo’s next move was proposing legislation expanding abortion rights.  In his 2013 State of the State Address, he pandered to the radical pro-abortion lobby by screaming at the top of his lungs four times, “It’s her body; it’s her choice!”

New York, the abortion capital of America – 37.6 percent abortions per 1,000 pregnancies versus 19.6% nationally – has had the nation’s most liberal statute on the books since 1970.  If Roe v. Wade were suddenly overturned, it would have no impact on the state.

Andrew Cuomo

Fortunately, Cuomo’s plan to codify abortion as a “fundamental right of privacy” – a classification even the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected – is still stalled in the state legislature thanks to the Catholic Conference and other pro-life groups.  But Cuomo continues to press for passage and will not give up until he gets his way.

Then, there was Cuomo’s comment in January that Catholics and others are unfit citizens and no longer welcome in the Empire State:

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.

Cardinal Dolan spoke for millions of N.Y. Catholics who oppose abortion and same-sex marriage when he said the governor’s remarks were “unfortunate at best; inflammatory and outrageous at worst.”

With Cuomo in mind, Dolan insisted “The extremists are really on the other side.  The extremists are those who want to radically expand abortion, are not happy with the things as they are, resist the constitutionally legal restraints that have been reasonably placed upon abortion.”

Cuomo’s latest shot has been at the financially troubled Catholic school system.  For years proponents of parochial and private schools have pushed for passage of the Education Investment Tax Credit which would permit “individuals, with certain well-defined limits, to donate money for education and receive a tax credit for doing so.”

It is believed that such a credit would encourage more donations to help eliminate the operating deficits of Catholic schools, which educate 215,000 children throughout the state.

This year there was optimism that the bill, which had the support of trade union and business leaders, would finally be part of the 2014-15 state budget.  In fact, Cardinal Dolan was promised it was a done deal.

However, when Albany’s smoke-filled rooms were cleared on Sunday, March 31, the governor, who has huge executive authority over the budget process, permitted the provision to be dropped.

A disappointed Cardinal Dolan said he was “frustrated – and to be honest, angry – when the children in our Catholic schools are treated like second-class citizens again and again.”

For the life of me, I cannot understand why Andrew Cuomo thinks nothing of poking Dolan in the eye every chance he gets.  Unlike his father, Mario, who tried to rationalize his mistaken theological and moral stances in Catholic forums, Andrew appears not to care about Church teachings and what his co-religionists believe.

Granted, Cuomo knows the Catholic vote is not the monolithic vote it used to be.  Nevertheless, there are still 7.3 million Catholics in New York – 38 percent of the state’s population.  And in New York’s depressed rust belt cities, working class Catholics, who have not fled to states that offer job opportunities, tend to be older ones who subscribe to traditional Judeo-Christian principles, live them in their daily lives, and expect the same of public officials.  Their beliefs mean more than material gain and transcend economic issues.

These angry practicing Catholics can, however, strike back this November at the ballot box.  By coming out in full force and casting their votes for Cuomo’s pro-life opponent, Rob Astorino, they can send a strong message, upset Cuomo’s plan to run up a huge margin of victory, and dash his hopes to be the second (sort of) Catholic president.


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.