On the eve of the annual “Catholics at the Capitol” public policy day in Albany, Cardinal Dolan met with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state legislative leaders to discuss issues of importance to the Church.
In a press briefing at the state Capitol after his 45-minute meeting with Gov. Cuomo took place March 12, Cardinal Dolan said he and two other bishops who accompanied him had told the governor that they “believe politics is a noble vocation that’s part of our Catholic tradition, civic duty and responsibility.”
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn and Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, who were also present for the press conference, joined the Cardinal at the meeting with Gov. Cuomo.
That gathering, and a subsequent meeting with Dean G. Skelos, state Senate majority leader, and Sheldon Silver, state Assembly speaker, was held one day before more than 1,000 Catholics traveled to Albany for their annual public policy day with legislators.
The Cardinal, speaking to the large contingent of media representatives, said, “Sometimes we worry that we’re caricatured as always being against things, and that we’re coming up here just filled with negatives and warnings…But in general, we come up here to affirm, and to encourage.”
The Cardinal told the reporters present that he and his brother bishops thanked the governor for fostering a sense of trust and confidence in state government. He noted that there were issues in which the bishops and the governor were aligned, naming in particular the nods given by the governor to Catholic education.
Cardinal Dolan said he and the other bishops expressed concern over issues including the Reproductive Health Act, which would establish a fundamental and untouchable right to abortion in New York state, and cutbacks and new rules affecting prison ministry.
“We bishops always feel that we have a role in justice to speak up for those who have no voice,” the Cardinal said. “So we always want to make sure that budget cuts don’t disproportionately affect those who are most hurting, whether that be homelessness or hunger, or our elders and sick.”
“Those are all issues that came up,” he added.
During the media conference, questions for the prelates focused on the much-debated Reproductive Health Act.
“Whenever we see the abortion license being strengthened…or expanded, we get more and more worried,” Cardinal Dolan said. He said he and his brother bishops, joined by a legion of Catholics across the state, are concerned about “an intrusion on the rights of the Church.” If this law passes, Church health facilities and hospitals may be coerced to perform abortions, the Cardinal explained.
“We feel a high responsibility to speak up for the baby in the womb,” he said.
The Cardinal noted that with regard to the Reproductive Health Act the Church’s best chance seems to be in the courts.