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