Cardinal Dolan has accepted an invitation to serve as chairman of a new interfaith advisory council called for by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address earlier this month.
The cardinal said that he envisions the committee, whose members have not been appointed yet, would be “a source of help and advice” to the governor, and also serve to bring “things to his attention when we think the state government could enhance the value of finding commonality and unity in a bit of a fractured time.”
The cardinal met last week in his Manhattan office with William J. Mulrow, secretary to the governor, to discuss the details of the appointment. The two spoke briefly with CNY after their Jan. 10 meeting.
“New York has always been a state that’s been a beacon of hope to people here, around the country and around the world,” Mulrow said. “It’s important to keep our arms open. With the cardinal’s leadership, we want to reach out and make sure that New Yorkers, and those around the country and the world, know that New York is still a place where all are welcome.”
The governor, in announcing the interfaith council, said it would seek to “help achieve a greater understanding and tolerance of all religions and cultures, promote open-mindedness and inclusivity, and bolster the state’s efforts to protect all New Yorkers.”
Cardinal Dolan explained that New York is a place where people of different ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds have a long history of “coming together and making things work.”
“Religion is an important part of that,” he added.
The cardinal said he plans to sit down with other leaders to discuss and appoint committee members, but that the committee’s efforts are already “a work in progress” among religious leaders.
“We’re not starting from scratch,” he said. “We’re already doing it.”
Potential areas of the committee’s focus already identified by the governor include hate crimes and vilification of minorities, the cardinal said.
Cardinal Dolan also noted the governor is well aware that “persecution and threats to religious freedom, although nowhere what they are in other parts of the world, there is always a threat of this foundational liberty being chipped away at.”