Cardinal Dolan: Excommunicating Cuomo Over Baby-Killing Would Be 'Counterproductive'

Michael W. Chapman | January 28, 2019 | 4:26pm EST
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Cardinal Timothy Dolan,
head of the archdiocese of
New York. (YouTube)

When asked whether New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) should be formally excommunicated from the Catholic Church because he signed into law new rules that permit babies to be aborted up to the day of birth -- what one bishop has called "infanticide" -- New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said such a step "would be counterproductive." It would give "ammo to our enemies," he added.

Also, when asked whether Communion should be denied to Cuomo at Mass, Dolan said such questions make him "restless," and he'd be "uncomfortable going into that" pastoral issue. 

Last week, Gov. Cuomo signed into law the Reproductive Health Act. The new law allows abortions up to the day of birth. In addition, if a baby survives an abortion, the law does not require a doctor to be called to save the child. The baby can be left to die on a table. Under the new law, midwives may administer medication-abortions and physician's assistants may perform surgical abortions.

During a Jan. 28 interview on Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said to Cardinal Dolan, “The fact that the baby can be born alive and then they can terminate it. There have been calls from within the Catholic Church for Governor Cuomo to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church.”

Cardinal Dolan, head of the Archdiocese of New York, replied, “You’re telling me. I get wheelbarrows of letters every day. I think that [excommunication] would be counterproductive myself.”

“Well he’s not following Catholic doctrine," said Doocy.

Dolan answered, “I don’t know – but there’s my point, Steve. We would be giving ammo to our enemies who say, ‘This is an internal Catholic disciplinary matter. This is really not civil rights, this is not biology. These Catholics don’t have freedom when it comes to this.’ I think we’d be giving our enemies ammo.”

New York Gov. Mario Cuomo (D).  (Getty Images)

Doocy then said,  “But the Catholic Church, cardinal, stands against abortion. And here is the most prominent Catholic in the state of New York, and he’s saying, ‘Eh, this is a good thing!’”

"The Canon Law [915] you quoted also says you have to use it for medicinal purpose and you think there’s going to be a good effect that can come out of this," said Cardinal Dolan.  

He continued, "We have a governor that brags about it. We have a governor who uses his dissent from Church teaching as applause lines. We have a governor that takes quotes from Pope Francis out of context to draw an artificial cleavage between the bishops of New York and the Holy Father himself. He’s [Cuomo’s] not going to be moved by this. So what would be the use?”

A little later in the interview, Doocy asked, “What about denying him Communion?”

Cardinal Dolan did not answer directly but said, “Well, look, that’s – I don’t rarely get restless but I am – that’s kind of a pastoral issue that I think one has to talk to him about, and I think proper people have. And I’d be uncomfortable going into that, rather spiritual and pastoral. That’s a good point. Not denying him [Communion]. He may have already said, ‘I cannot approach [Communion].’”

In his 1995 encyclical letter, Evangelium Vitae, Pope St. John Paul II wrote, "Disregard for the right to life, precisely because it leads to the killing of the person whom society exists to serve, is what most directly conflicts with the possibility of achieving the common good. Consequently, a civil law authorizing abortion or euthanasia ceases by that very fact to be a true, morally binding civil law.

Pope St. John Paul II.  (YouTube)

"Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection.

"In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to 'take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it.'" (Emphasis added.)

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