Maureen Down interviews Gov. Cuomo.
I FIGURED I’d get straight to it.
“So, Governor,” I asked, “are you afraid you’re going to hell?”
Andrew Cuomo, inculcated at Immaculate Conception grade school, Archbishop Molloy High School and Fordham University, chuckled. “There are forms of hell, Maureen,” he answered. “The question is, which level?”
Rather funny answer, but really more of an evasion than answer.
“I have a portrait of Saint Thomas More in my office,” the governor said, calling from the statehouse in Albany. It is a picture Mario Cuomo once kept in his office. He gave it to Andrew as a present when he graduated from Albany Law School, and the younger Cuomo has kept it with him for 30 years as he moved from job to job and city to city. “It’s not the first time there is a tension between the teachings of the church and the administration of the law, for my father and for myself.” Dryly, he adds: “I haven’t lost my head yet.”
Before the vote on same-sex marriage I had tweeted “NY Vote reminds me that when it comes to marriage as Sts. John the Baptist and Thomas More learned you can easily lose your head.” Maybe a prophetic tweet when it comes to Gov. Cuomo. The Governor I must admit is quite glib.
I wonder what ironic devotions to saints from Catholic politicians we will find about next?
I have long felt that Catholic politicians are often irony deficient. Iron deficiencies lead to nutritional deficiencies, and irony deficiencies lead to theological deficiencies that make you make statements like the above.
Saint Thomas More was a great defender of marriage and of the teaching authority of the Church. He refused to support King Henry VII in his marriage to Anne Boleyn after the Pope refused to grant an annulment. He would not sign the Act of Succession or acknowledge the Kings’ supremacy over the Pope. There is many ways he might have quibbled in this by interpolating the document in generous ways as many people urged him to do. St. Thomas More was certainly no one rushing off to martyrdom, but he would not compromise his faith knowing he would have to answer for his conscience.
Gov. Cuomo on the other hand has no regard for marriage in his private life and in his public life shows his distain of marriage by signing the bill for same-sex marriage. His obedience to the Pope and the teachings of the Church to say the least are somewhat lacking.
Nothing would please me more than if he ever developed a true devotion to St. Thomas More and repented of his actions. For now though that picture on his desk is nothing more than cultural Catholic prop to use in conversations with other cultural Catholics. St. Thomas Becket was once a man who craved political power over his faith and yet he died a martyr to the faith. St. Thomas Becket please pray for Gov. Cuomo.
That tension he talks about between the teachings of the Church and administration of the law is not really a tension. The gap between the teaching and his administration of the law is a chasm similar to the one that separated the rich man from Lazurus in Jesus’ parable. More like that tension it is the black hole gravatic pull of a contradiction and paradox. A tension runs more in the line of prudential actions in applying the faith and the natural law. Approval of same-sex marriage is not only contrary to his faith, but to natural law. He has not administered a law and as St. Thomas Aquinas said “An unjust law does not seem to be a law at all.”
Canonist Ed Peters makes some excellent points.