John Jalsevac

Card. Dolan ‘would not suggest’ pro-abort Gov. Cuomo not a Catholic ‘in good standing’: archdiocese

John Jalsevac
John Jalsevac

NEW YORK, May 16, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan appeared to suggest during a radio interview this week that he may not view pro-abortion Governor Andrew Cuomo as a Catholic “in good standing,” the archdiocese has issued a statement saying that this is not the case, and that Dolan's remark was misunderstood. 

“Cardinal Dolan would not, and did not, suggest the governor might not be a Catholic in good standing going forward,” archdiocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling said in a statement originally sent to the New York Times, and forwarded to LifeSiteNews.

Dolan made the remark during a discussion about Gov. Cuomo’s intention to propose a law to make abortion less regulated and more accessible. Cuomo announced the initiative during his State of the State address in January, in which he pledged to “protect a woman’s freedom of choice” by enacting a “Reproductive Health Act." 

The governor added, repeating three times, “Because it is her body, it is her choice. Because it's her body, it's her choice. Because it's her body, it's her choice.” 

During this week’s radio interview, the host of the show, Fred Dicker, asked Cardinal Dolan how Cuomo “could be a leader on an issue that the Church fundamentally feels so strongly about," namely abortion, and “still be considered a Catholic in good standing?”

“Well, I don’t mind telling you that’s one of the things the governor and I talk about,” Cardinal Dolan responded. “And look, he and I have very grave differences. And this is one of them.”

The cardinal added that while he doesn’t like to “blab on the radio” about private conversations about matters of conscience, “I don’t mind telling you…that’s something that I talk turkey with him about, and leave it at that.” 

The remark was interpreted by the New York Times as suggesting that the cardinal has reservations about whether Gov. Cuomo, who was also the leading advocate of New York’s 2011 gay “marriage” law, is a Catholic in good standing.

The archdiocese moved quickly to quell this interpretation. 

According to spokesman Zwilling, when the cardinal said he has “grave differences” and “talks turkey” with the governor, he was talking about the governor’s position on abortion, and not about whether the governor is a Catholic in good standing or not.   

“The Cardinal was very clear throughout…that he and the governor have very different positions on abortion, and he has been forthright with the governor on the matter, in public and in private,” said Zwilling. “But he has not made any statement about the Governor’s faith or standing in the Church.” 

LifeSiteNews.com asked Zwilling if Cardinal Dolan would be willing to consider telling Governor Cuomo that he must change his views on abortion or, in accordance with Canon 915 and Vatican pronouncements, be denied Communion. (See below.) The archdiocesan spokesman, however, demurred from answering the question, instead referring LSN to the statement provided to the Times

Cardinal Dolan: ‘Gov. Cuomo wants to work very closely with the pro-life movement’

Throughout the interview with Fred Dicker, Cardinal Dolan emphasized his positive personal relationship with the governor, and expressed his hopes that the governor would not, in fact, expand abortion in the state. 

“I appreciate a lot of things about Governor Cuomo. He and I get along well. And I’m grateful that he keeps in touch,” said the cardinal, adding that while he disagrees with the governor on abortion, he has enjoyed working with him on issues like gun control and immigration. 

Cardinal Dolan also said that the governor “has been very up front with me that he wants to work very closely with the pro-life community to provide alternatives to abortion,” something the cardinal said is “refreshing.” 

Since announcing his intention in January to pass a Reproductive Health Act as part of a broader Women’s Equality Act, Governor Cuomo has been coy about what, exactly, his bill will propose. Originally pro-life groups, including the state’s conference of Catholic bishops, had identified Cuomo’s bill with the same Reproductive Health Act that has languished for several years in the New York legislature. That bill would dramatically expand abortion access, including late-term abortion, and has been described as “the most sweeping abortion legislation in the country.” 

In the intervening months, however, the governor has appeared to backpedal, suggesting that the bill may only protect the “status quo” on abortion by codifying federal abortion law in state law. 

Cardinal Dolan said the governor has made similar promises to him. “He’s told me what he’s said publicly, that as of now he has not decided on the details of the Act, and that when it is revealed we won’t find it as alarming as some of the rumors are,” said the cardinal. 

The cardinal also said that of the 10 points mentioned by Cuomo as part of his Women’s Equality Act, the Church agrees with him on nine of the points. “It’s just this one about expansion of abortion that really gives us pause and makes us say, ‘please, that’s the last thing this state needs,’” the cardinal said. 

Asked by Dicker if the cardinal wasn’t perhaps being too trusting by taking Gov. Cuomo at his word that he doesn’t intend to expand abortion, the cardinal admitted that “a lot of people are saying that to me.” 

“They’re saying, ‘Dolan you’re too trusting.’ I say, look, the governor and I have worked closely together on other issues. I’ve applauded a lot of the things that he’s done…We’ve been with him and appreciated what he’s done. So, I guess I tend to be a trusting person by nature," he said. “I guess I want to believe that he means it when he says he’s not going to expand what’s already a terribly harmful liberal abortion culture, and that he wants to work hard on alternatives to abortion.”

Cardinal Dolan: ‘It’s not all that good to trust politicians sometimes’

Cardinal Dolan has accused himself of being too trusting of New York politicians in the past.

In the aftermath of the legalization of gay “marriage” in New York, Cardinal Dolan admitted to EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo that the state’s bishops hadn’t really launched an offensive against the bill because they had been assured by “political allies” that the bill was dead in the water. 

“So, we had political allies who said, ‘Bishops, keep your ammo dry. You don’t have to pull out all the stops, speak on principle, speak up against this bill, but don’t really worry, because it’s not going to go anywhere,’” said Dolan. 

The chief champion and moving force behind the gay ‘marriage’ bill at the time was Governor Cuomo. 

During debate over the bill, the governor had accused those who opposed it of being “un-American” and saying, in effect, “I want to discriminate.” 

After the bill passed Cuomo was widely accused by Republicans and other advocates of traditional marriage of using coercive and deceptive tactics, including pushing for last minute changes to Senate rules, to ram the bill through the legislature. 

During the Arroyo interview, the cardinal was asked if the bishops had learned anything from the experience. 

“It sort of taught us that it’s not all that good to trust politicians sometimes,” Dolan said. “And I think some of us bishops think we were being deceived. And I think that could be, shame on us for believing them.” 

Cuomo should be denied communion: canon law expert, pro-life leaders

This isn’t the first time that the question of Gov. Cuomo’s status as a Catholic has been the source of public debate, and newspaper headlines. 

In February 2011, Vatican canon law legal consultant Ed Peters made headlines when he said that Cuomo should be denied Holy Communion because of his public support for abortion, as well as the fact that he was living openly with his mistress. 

Peters based his argument on Canon 915, which states that those “who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.” 

Other pro-life leaders have also asked that Governor Cuomo be denied Communion. In this they would appear to have strong support from the Vatican in the form of a letter written to the U.S. bishops in 2004 by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), in his capacity as Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. 

In that letter, Cardinal Ratzinger had attempted to end debate about whether pro-abortion Catholic public figures should be denied Communion, telling the bishops that those politicians who have been warned by their pastors to change their views on abortion, “must” be denied the Eucharist. 

LifeSiteNews.com asked Zwilling if Cardinal Dolan would be willing to consider taking this step with Governor Cuomo. The archdiocesan spokesman, however, did not answer the question and instead referred LSN to the statement provided to the Times

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Lisa Bourne

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Cardinal Dolan: Debate on denying Communion to pro-abortion pols ‘in the past’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

As America heads into its 2014 midterm elections, a leading U.S. prelate says the nation’s bishops believe debate over whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians is “in the past.”

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states in Canon 915 that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Leading Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, have said this canon ought to be applied in the case of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. However, prelates in the West have widely ignored it, and some have openly disagreed.

John Allen, Jr. of the new website Crux, launched as a Catholic initiative under the auspices of the Boston Globe, asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the issue earlier this month.

“In a way, I like to think it’s an issue that served us well in forcing us to do a serious examination of conscience about how we can best teach our people about their political responsibilities,” the cardinal responded, “but by now that inflammatory issue is in the past.”

“I don’t hear too many bishops saying it’s something that we need to debate nationally, or that we have to decide collegially,” he continued. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases.’ Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

Cardinal Dolan expressed personal disinterest in upholding Canon 915 publicly in 2010 when he told an Albany TV station he was not in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He said at the time that he preferred “to follow the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who said it was better to try to persuade them than to impose sanctions.”

However, in 2004 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI the following year, wrote the U.S. Bishops a letter stating that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. 

Cardinal Ratzinger sent the document to the U.S. Bishops in 2004 to help inform their debate on the issue. However, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then-chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, who received the letter, withheld the full text from the bishops, and used it instead to suggest ambiguity on the issue from the Vatican.

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s June 2004 address to the USCCB, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the full document. Cardinal Ratzinger’s office later confirmed the leaked document as authentic.

Since the debate in 2004, numerous U.S. prelates have openly opposed denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In 2008, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley suggested the Church had yet to formally pronounce on the issue, and that until it does, “I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people.”

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. in 2009 said that upholding of Canon 915 would turn the Eucharist into a political “weapon,” refusing to employ the law in the case of abortion supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a 2009 newspaper interview that pro-abortion politicians should be granted communion because Jesus Christ gave Holy Communion to Judas Iscariot.

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However, one of the Church’s leading proponents of the practice, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, insists that denying Communion is not a punishment.

“The Church’s discipline from the time of Saint Paul has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion,” he said at LifeSiteNews’ first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City in early May. "The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin."  

Only days earlier, Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told LifeSiteNews that he has no patience for politicians who say that they are “personally” opposed to abortion, but are unwilling to “impose” their views on others.

On the question of Communion, he said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, told LifeSiteNews around the same time that ministers of Holy Communion are “bound not to” give the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Pro-life organizations across the world have said they share the pastoral concern for pro-abortion politicians. Fifty-two pro-life leaders from 16 nations at the recent Rome Life Forum called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to honor Canon 915 and withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy.

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Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten

‘His bones are basically like paper’: Parents refuse to abort baby with rare condition

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

At just 11 weeks old, little Layton Diven is not like other babies. Every time his parents pick him up or cuddle him, there is a chance they will break his bones. In fact, Layton has already suffered more than 20 fractures in his short life – beginning at the moment of his birth.

Layton has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare disease that makes his bones brittle and prone to breakage. There are several types of OI, and Layton’s type, OI Type III, is the most severe type found among infants. Most babies born with the disease, like Layton, are born with multiple fractures, especially along the rib cage. Many struggle to breathe or swallow. The incurable disease is progressive, so it will get worse as he gets older.

Layton was diagnosed with OI in the womb, but abortion wasn’t an option for his parents, Chad and Angela Diven, who considered their baby a gift from God, no matter his condition.

“We weren't going to have an abortion, so he was born with the disease,” Angela Diven told KSLA. “God chose me for him, to be his mom, so I have to take that huge responsibility and do what's best for him.”

That responsibility comes with a heavy price. Layton requires 24-hour care, but both Angela and Chad have full-time jobs. He can’t go to regular daycare, because it’s not safe for him.

“You can't just pick him up like a normal baby,” Diven said. “You can't dress him like a normal child; his bones are basically like paper. He can't go to daycare because of his condition. He's medically fragile, and a daycare can't handle him."

Childcare costs are just the beginning, though – the treatments Layton will need throughout his life are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

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Layton is currently receiving pamidronate IV therapy, which will help to strengthen his bones. But in order to be able to stand or walk, he will need metal rods implanted in his legs – an operation that will cost the Divens $80,000. The OI specialist coordinating Layton’s care is in Omaha, Nebraska, while the Divens live in Louisiana. As he grows, Layton will also require special equipment, such as a wheelchair, along with extensive physical therapy.

Despite the hardships they knew would come, the Divens stepped out in faith to bring Layton into the world. Now, they are reaching out to the internet for help to shoulder the financial burdens that came with their baby blessing. The family has set up both a GoFundMe and a Facebook page called “Lifting Up Layton Diven,” where people can receive updates on Layton’s condition and contribute to the cost of his care.

To donate to baby Layton’s medical trust fund, click here.

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Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta.

The timing of the move is key since Cardinal Burke is currently on the list to attend October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is attending in his capacity as head of one of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, so if he is removed prior to the Synod it could mean he would not be able to attend.

Burke has been one of the key defenders in the lead-up to the Synod of the Church's traditional practice of withholding Communion from Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.

Most of the Catholic world first learned of the shocking development through Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, whose post ‘Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke’ went out late last night.

If Burke’s removal from the Signatura is confirmed, said Magister, the cardinal “would not be promoted - as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere - to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous - but ecclesiastically very modest - title of ‘cardinal patron’ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.”

At 66, Cardinal Burke is still in his Episcopal prime.

The prominent traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli goes as far as to say, “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

On Tuesday, American traditionalist priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf also hinted he had heard the move was underway. “I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now,” he wrote. “The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.”

“It’s not good news,” he added.

Both Magister and Zuhlsdorf predicted that the controversial move would unleash a wave of simultaneous jubilation from dissident Catholics and criticism from faithful Catholics. The decision to remove Cardinal Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops last December caused a public outpouring of concern and dismay from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the globe.

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Both men speculated on the reasons for the ouster. 

Magister pointed out that Burke is the latest in a line of ‘Ratzingerian’ prelates to undergo the axe.

“In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most ‘Ratzingerian’ of the Roman curia,” said Magister.

He added: “Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta.”

Fr. Zuhlsdorf observed that Pope Francis may also be shrinking the Curial offices and thus reducing the number of Cardinals needed to fill those posts. He adds however, “It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.” 

“This is millennial, clerical blood sport.”

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