It’s been a rough time for us these recent days in Albany.
Even a seasoned, impartial journalist and keen observer of politicians in our state capital, has noted that values for which the Church stands—and many others of all faiths, or none at all—have been pushed aside in Albany’s frantic rush for “progressive” ideas.
I’m thinking of, for example, the ghoulish, radical abortion expansion bill, signed into law purposefully on the grim anniversary of Roe v. Wade, as millions across the nation assembled to defend the civil rights of the baby in the womb. This chilling law, if you have not heard, insists on the demand for an abortion up to the moment of birth; drops all charges against an abortionist who allows an aborted baby, who somehow survived the scissors, scalpel, saline, and dismemberment, to die before his eyes; mandates that, to make an abortion more convenient and easy, a physician need not perform it; and might even be used to suppress the conscience rights of healthcare professionals, and there are many doctors and nurses who do not want to assist in the grizzly procedure. Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis remarked that even her “pro-choice” constituents were shuddering at this bill. All this in a state that already has the most permissive abortion climate in the nation.
All this when a poll from one of our state’s most respected colleges, Marist, shows that 70 percent of us want prudent limits on the unquestioned abortion license.
As if that’s not enough, instead of admitting that abortion is always a tragic choice, only after compelling life-giving alternatives have been considered, the “progressives” opened chablis and ate brie in a celebration hosted by the Governor Cuomo as he jubilantly signed the bill. Even the lights at the Freedom Tower sparkled with delight at the governor’s command.
I’ve been attacked in the past when I asked—sadly and reluctantly—if the party of my upbringing, the Democrats, has apparently chosen to alienate faithful Catholic voters. Yet now the Democrats claim this “enlightened” policy would have been law much sooner had those reactionary, anti-woman Republicans not had a majority in the Senate. What are we to conclude?
Those who told us that abortion had to remain safe, legal, and rare, now have made it dangerous, imposed, and frequent.
Then we had to watch and listen as our governor, with a style he often claims President Trump exhibits, insulted and caricatured the Church in what’s supposed to be an uplifting and unifying occasion, his “State of the State” address.
For over a decade, as you know, the bishops of this state have supported a reform of the inadequate laws around the sexual abuse of minors. Yes, with a broad alliance of others, we’ve expressed reservations about one element of the proposed reform, the elimination of the statute of limitations. A month ago we dropped our concerns about the look-back section if all victims were included. The governor was aware of all this.
Why, then, would he use his moment in the sun to blame the Church, and only the Church, for blocking this bill? Why would he brag about his dissent from timeless and substantive Church belief at such a prominent moment? Why would he quote Pope Francis out of context as an applause line to position us pastors here as opposed to our Holy Father? Why did he reduce the sexual abuse of minors, a broad societal and cultural curse that afflicts every family, public school, religion, and government program, to a “Catholic problem”?
I’m a pastor, not a politician, but I feel obliged to ask these questions, as daily do I hear them from you, my priests, people, and colleagues from other creeds.
As an American historian, I am very aware of our state’s past record of scorn and sneers at Catholics. They used to be called “Know Nothings.” Now it’s touted as “progressivism.”
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 all. That’s government at its best. I pray that spirit returns.