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ALBANY, New York, January 23, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― The Catholic leaders of New York state expressed “profound sadness” before the abortion-extremist Reproductive Health Act passed into law and decried the notion that it represents “progress.” But some Catholics are calling for a more robust episcopal response to the law.
“The bishops' statement is welcome,” author John Zmirak told LifeSiteNews. “Sadly, it's a day late and a dollar short.”
“For how long have 'Catholic' politicians who support laws like this been allowed to receive Holy Communion by New York bishops?” he asked.
Headed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the ordinaries of the Catholic dioceses in New York released a letter on January 17th condemning the new Reproductive Health Act (RHA).
“Words are insufficient to describe the profound sadness we feel at the contemplated passage of New York State’s new proposed abortion policy,” their letter reads.
“We mourn the unborn infants who will lose their lives, and the many mothers and fathers who will suffer remorse and heartbreak as a result.” (Full letter reprinted below.)
The bishops explained that the RHA is even more permissive than the current abortion law, allowing more health professionals to commit the procedure and removing all state restrictions on late-term abortions.
“With an abortion rate that is already double the national average,” they wrote, “New York law is moving in the wrong direction.”
The bishops renewed their promise to offer help to any women in a crisis pregnancy situation and to support her in having and raising her baby or to assist her in giving the baby to adopting parents.
“There are life-affirming choices available, and we aim to make them more widely known and accessible,” they asserted.
The bishops, namely Cardinal Dolan of New York, Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, Terry R. LaValley of Ogdensburg, Salvatore R. Matano of Rochester, John O. Barres of Rockville Centre, and Robert J. Cunningham of Syracuse, their auxiliary bishops and retired bishops, decried Governor Cuomo’s idea that this radical new law represents “progress.”
“This is not progress,” they wrote. “Progress will be achieved when our laws and our culture once again value and respect each unrepeatable gift of human life, from the first moment of creation to natural death.”
Yesterday the New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the bishops in all public policy matters, released a statement expressing sorrow that Governor Cuomo had indeed signed of the Reproductive Health Act into law.
“Today New York State has added a sad chapter to this already solemn date of January 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade,” it said.
“With the legislature’s passage, and Governor Cuomo’s signing of the Reproductive Health Act, our beloved state has become a more dangerous one for women and their unborn babies.”
The NYS Catholic Conference reflected that many of the state Senators and Assembly members who voted for the “abortion expansion” are mothers and fathers with direct experience of unborn human life, either feeling their own children in the womb or watching and listening to them over ultrasound videos. It noted too that many of the officials may have been born in adverse circumstances.
“Many of these same officials were themselves born into less-than-perfect conditions – poverty, health problems, disabilities, broken families. All overcame these issues to rise to leadership in our state, because their parents chose life for them,” the spokespeople wrote.
They thanked everyone who had worked with them in the twelve-year fight to stop the new law and asked for prayers for conversion and protection.
“Let us all pray for the conversion of heart for those who celebrate this tragic moment in the history of our state,” the NYS Catholic Conference wrote. “And we pray in a special way for the lives that will be lost, and for the women of our state who are made less safe under this law.”
Some Catholics feel, however, that the bishops’ official statements should do more than express grief.
Zmirak, 54, believes that a “massive influx” of abortion-supporting immigrants have changed the political balance in New York.
“When I grew up in New York City, the pro-life cause had a fighting chance,” he said. “We elected pro-life senators like James Buckley and Al D'Amato. But the massive influx of pro-choice voting immigrants has changed all that. Our bishops, who constantly oppose border enforcement, helped make this inevitable.”
Matthew Schmitz, an editor of First Things magazine, called upon Cardinal Dolan to excommunicate the Governor.
“If we Catholics really believe what we saw when we talk about heaven, hell, and the dignity of the unborn, @CardinalDolan should, after exhausting all means of correction, excommunicate @andrewcuomo,” Schmitz wrote over Twitter.
Daniel Mattson, author of Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay, publicly agreed with Schmitz.
“I agree wholeheartedly,” he tweeted. “Now is the time for our shepherds to be bold in the faith.”
Journalist Dr. Taylor Marshall also directed a tweet at the Cardinal.
“@CardinalDolan needs to excommunicate these murderous Catholics in accord with Scripture and the current Canon law,” he wrote. “Will he?”
Thomas Peters of Catholic Vote said that if Cuomo incurs no canonical penalty, the American bishops’ will have abdicated their responsibilities.
“If Andrew Cuomo remains a ‘Catholic in good standing’ after signing this abortion bill then the Church's institutional witness to life simply has zero teeth and the US bishops have completely abdicated their responsibilities as shepherd of souls,” he tweeted. “No other way to square it, folks.”
Canonist Ed Peters, Thomas Peters’ father, pointed out that Cuomo’s irregular domestic partnership already excludes him from Holy Communion.
“Gov.@Cuomo has, I understand, refrained from Communion since the concubinage controversy of 2011; now, his blatant promotion of New York’s murderous abortion law would, by itself, suffice to conclude he must not be admitted to the Sacrament per Canon 915,” he wrote.
LifeSiteNews reached out to the Archdiocese of New York by telephone and email but had not received a reply by the time this article went to press.
A Statement from the Catholic Bishops of New York State
Words are insufficient to describe the profound sadness we feel at the contemplated passage of New York State’s new proposed abortion policy. We mourn the unborn infants who will lose their lives, and the many mothers and fathers who will suffer remorse and heartbreak as a result.
The so-called “Reproductive Health Act” will expand our state’s already radically permissive law, by empowering more health practitioners to provide abortion and removing all state restrictions on late-term procedures. With an abortion rate that is already double the national average, New York law is moving in the wrong direction.
We renew our pledge to offer the resources and services of our charitable agencies and health services to any woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, to support her in bearing her infant, raising her family or placing her child for adoption. There are life-affirming choices available, and we aim to make them more widely known and accessible.
Our Governor and legislative leaders hail this new abortion law as progress. This is not progress. Progress will be achieved when our laws and our culture once again value and respect each unrepeatable gift of human life, from the first moment of creation to natural death. Would that not make us truly the most enlightened and progressive state in the nation?
Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York
Most Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger
Bishop of Albany
Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop of Brooklyn
Most Rev. Richard J. Malone
Bishop of Buffalo
Most Rev. Terry R. LaValley
Bishop of Ogdensburg
Most Rev. Salvatore R. Matano
Bishop of Rochester
Most Rev. John O. Barres
Bishop of Rockville Centre
Most Rev. Robert J. Cunningham
Bishop of Syracuse
And the Auxiliary and Retired Bishops of New York State