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NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - Cardinal Timothy Dolan is dismissing calls to excommunicate New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for enacting the most radical abortion law in U.S. history.
On Tuesday, the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Cuomo signed into law the Reproductive Health Act (RHA). In addition to legalizing abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy, RHA removes the requirement that abortionists be licensed doctors, allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to perform abortions. It also removes protections for babies born alive after botched procedures, essentially green-lighting infanticide for newborn survivors of abortion. The move has sparked a growing outcry from faithful across the country for Cuomo, a self-identified Catholic, to be excommunicated for pushing the bill through the state legislature.
On Friday, CNN's Daniel Burke spoke with a top New York archdiocesan official about the prospect of censure. "I asked @CardinalDolan's spokesman about the calls for Gov. Cuomo to be excommunicated over NY's new abortion bill," Burke tweeted. "While emphasizing that this should not be considered a comment on any specific person, he said excommunication 'should not be used as a weapon.'"
The spokesman issued a statement suggesting that excommunicating Cuomo would be an inappropriate response. "First, excommunication should not be used as a weapon. Too often, I fear, those who call for someone's excommunication do so out of anger or frustration," he said.
"Second," he argued, "notable canon lawyers have said that, under canon law, excommunication is not an appropriate response to a politician who supports or votes for legislation advancing abortion."
The statement also claimed Dolan preferred to handle the matter "personally and directly" with Cuomo, going on to say excommunication would ultimately be ineffective. But Catholic leaders — including brother bishops — disagree with the archdiocese's assessment.
On Thursday, Bp. Richard Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee took to Twitter, saying: "Someone asked me today if I would issue an excommunication of a Catholic Governor under my jurisdiction if the Governor did the same as in New York. I think I might do it for any Catholic legislator under my jurisdiction who voted for the bill as well as the Governor."
Enough is enough. Excommunication is to be not a punishment but to bring the person back into the Church. It's like medicine for them. But this vote is so hideous and vile that it warrants the act. But thankfully I am not in that positon. Very sad.— Bishop Rick Stika (@BishopStika) January 24, 2019
There comes a time when something is so egregious and boldly sinful that it must be met with strong ecclesial and canonical penalties and remedies. ... This cannot be allowed to stand without canonical penalties. I am not a canon lawyer, but the truth is clear that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is not in communion with the Catholic Church. At this point, canonical penalties forbidding him to receive Holy Communion — or even, if possible, issuing a formal excommunication — are simply affirming what is already true and what he himself has done. To fail to issue all possible canonical penalties at this point would, to my mind, show the Church to be irrelevant and a laughingstock.
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. https://t.co/SRL1QmyGYI— Edward Peters (@canonlaw) January 23, 2019