The Church, Her War and Her Weapons


Photo from AP.

Declan Leary, Op/Ed Editor

“Words are insufficient to describe the profound sadness we feel at the contemplated passage of New York State’s new proposed abortion policy.” This is the opening admission of a joint declaration from the Catholic bishops of the state of New York and by far the truest of the short message’s dull, halfhearted statements. Words are certainly insufficient; yet, faced with the mass slaughter of innocents and a Catholic governor’s public rebellion against Christ and his Church, words are all that the bishops have the courage to offer.

The Reproductive Health Act — a law fundamentally opposed to both reproduction and health — was passed by the New York State Legislature on Jan. 22, after a nearly six-year-long battle between Democrats and Republicans. Considered by many to be the most extreme pro-abortion law ever passed in the United States, the RHA eliminates the requirement that abortions be performed by medical doctors, removes any protection for preborn children from the state’s criminal code and permits abortion up to the moment of birth “to protect a woman’s life or health.” Of course, the broad concept of health promulgated in the absurd 1973 case Doe v. Bolton (“all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the well-being of the patient”) enables abortion for just about any conceivable reason.

Upon legislating unrestricted mass infanticide, New York politicians celebrated the tragedy raucously. Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas described a viral video showing the state’s legislative chamber erupting in applause and cheers as “a scene from Hell.” The bishop continued, “Woe to those who ignore the sanctity of life, they reap the whirlwind of Hell. Stand against this holocaust in every way you can.” Rather than standing against the holocaust, Andrew Cuomo, the state’s Catholic governor, undertook a celebration of his own.

Cuomo, who alternately flaunts and flouts his Catholic faith dependent upon the political demands of a given moment, ordered multiple landmarks — including the One World Trade Center memorial for the victims of the 9/11 Islamist attacks — to be lit up in pink in honor of the new legislation.

Cuomo’s enthusiastic support and celebration of the law inspired comments from numerous Catholics, including Bishop Rick Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville, that the governor’s actions warranted excommunication. Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, has refused to take this action, or any, for Cuomo’s rehabilitation. Cardinal Dolan could certainly declare Cuomo excommunicated lata sententia under canon 1398, which mandates the censure in response to the procurement of abortion. There is a solid precedent for applying the law to all those involved in the abortion, such as medical professionals, but some have questioned whether the governor’s role is direct enough for the law to be applicable.

Even excluding canon 1398, Ed Condon — a canon lawyer and the DC bureau chief for the Catholic News Agency — has made a solid case at First Things for Cuomo’s excommunication under canon 1364, which prescribes the punishment for the offense of heresy. Cuomo’s obstinate, public rejection of one of the Church’s most basic moral teachings over the repeated admonitions of his own bishop and other Church leaders is certainly worthy of the label.

Nevertheless, Cardinal Dolan has refused to declare Cuomo’s excommunication, citing concern that the censure might be misinterpreted as “a weapon.” What the cardinal fails to realize, however, is that excommunication is a weapon, just as the sacraments and all other tools of the Church are weapons. It was only very recently that the Church laid down her more literal weapons, and this due to geopolitical restraints on her terrestrial power rather than any change in her mission. The Church remains locked in battle “with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.”

When Catholics in positions of public power become themselves world rulers of this present darkness, the weapon of excommunication is necessary to conquer the evil spirits that influence them, to liberate their souls and to redeem the Church as the image of Christian truth for the world. Can we really be surprised that Andrew Cuomo has received no censure for his support of this brutal evil when Biden, Pelosi, Kaine, Kerry and countless others have gone on for decades doing exactly the same? The only difference between this new law and the policies they have supported all along is that the RHA does away with any euphemism or pretense of decency; it admits that its goal is abortion without restriction, without reason, without end. The difference is in appearance, not in substance.

Governor Cuomo has never been shy about his rejection of Church teaching. He has long been a devoted activist for homosexual imitations of marriage. He divorced his wife and now openly cohabitates with another woman. Even his position on abortion has always been as extreme as it is today; the only difference now is that a Democratic majority enabled his favored bill to pass. Has none of this made his status clear already? If he stands in the middle of a New York City Pride Parade with his mistress at his side and slaughters an infant with his own two hands, will he then have incurred the censure necessary to save his soul? Here, as before, the only difference is in appearance. Each sin present in this ridiculous scene is one in which Cuomo is already actively involved, just displayed clearly enough that it cannot be ignored.

The long battle for Cuomo’s soul has now been brought into a stark and devastating light, and the fate of millions hinges on it. The Church Militant cannot very well fight her side without weapons. It is long past time to use the greatest weapons given to us by Christ — the sacraments and, when necessary, the denial of them — for the redemption of Andrew Cuomo and all Catholics complicit in the advancement of infanticide, for the protection of the countless children they have condemned to the slaughter and for the restoration of the American Church as the nation’s supreme moral authority — an authority higher than the governor of New York, higher than the government of the United States and higher than the devil who has both locked tightly in his grip.