A faithful Catholic who is a human-rights activist and filmmaker has written a letter to the Catholic bishop in Albany, N.Y., asking him to excommunicate Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his support for abortion, which conflicts with church law.
Jason Jones is president of Movie to Movement, which was created to promote a culture of “life, love and beauty” through production of its own films as well as sharing others.
Jones told WND he felt he needed to act because of his lifelong commitment to the culture of life since, as a teen, he lost a daughter to abortion.
The issue of pro-abortion politicians who claim to be Catholic has arisen several times lately, including when both Vice President Joseph Biden and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accepted Catholic communion during their visit to the Vatican for the installation of Pope Francis.
Jones’ letter, reproduced in full, is here:
An Open Letter to Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany
I am not a resident of your diocese, but rather a human rights activist based in Hawaii, so pardon me for addressing you from across an ocean, but you are in a unique position to make a stand for the dignity of the human person – a cause to which I have dedicated my life.
Let me begin by reminding you of what happened one Lent in 1962, in the City of New Orleans.
For many years Abp. Joseph Rummel had upheld civil rights for African-Americans, at a time when public opinion strongly endorsed segregation. In an act that risked his reputation and fund-raising, Rummel issued a pastoral letter, to be read aloud from every pulpit in his archdiocese. In it, he wrote, “Let there be no further discrimination or segregation in the pews, at the Communion rail, at the confessional and in parish meetings, just as there will be no segregation in the kingdom of heaven.”
The more Rummel worked for equal treatment of every race, the more enemies he made. The boldest came from among his flock: Judge Leander Perez, a powerful and popular Catholic white supremacist (there is to this day a major road named for him), refused to follow Rummel’s lead.
He drummed up street demonstrations, school boycotts, and threats of violence. Hounded though the archbishop was by racist clamoring, he never backed down, and on April 16, 1962, a few days before Easter, he excommunicated Perez for refusing to acknowledge the “basic truth” that blacks and whites are equal, and that segregation is fundamentally irreconcilable with Catholic teaching.
That was an Easter to remember. Sometimes a Catholic leader must take strong measures to defend the truth of our God-given human dignity. Rummel’s courage eventually led the Catholics of New Orleans to accept a racially diverse church, such as now thrives in that city.
Today, we face a similar scandal of a Catholic political leader who rejects the human dignity of a politically powerless minority: unborn children of every race. Governor Andrew Cuomo, as the New York Times reports, proposes to repeal any protection granted third-trimester fetuses in New York. His “reform” is supported by a wide array of public figures and powerful institutions, including the organizations that perform many of the abortions in your own diocese. The New York Times article notes that Cuomo is “bucking a trend in which states have been seeking to restrict abortion,” balancing the fight with “legislation that would guarantee women in New York the right to late-term abortions….” Through his bully pulpit, Governor Cuomo is spreading a falsehood every bit as toxic as the racism once shouted through bullhorns in 1962 New Orleans.
And in doing so, Cuomo is positioning himself to promote these ideas across the nation. The Washington Post calls Cuomo’s legislation a move with “big implications for Cuomo’s political future” when considered “in the context of his potential presidential ambitions.” In other words, a self-proclaimed Catholic in your diocese stands on the verge of becoming a national champion of policies utterly incompatible with Christian values. And you, Bishop Hubbard, are in the happy position of being able to do something about it.
As Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, stated in 2007, “we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments,” particularly “when abortions, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated.” He said that “this responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”
The pro-life movement is no more popular today than the Civil Rights movement once was. It was thanks to strong religious leadership by clergymen – from Abp. Rummel to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and thousands of others – that racial inequality was rendered unacceptable in America. It is the duty of religious leaders today to take a similar, brave stand against abortion – as Cardinal Dolan of New York has already taken.
Another Easter Sunday is approaching, and Catholics shrouded in Lenten solemnity await the Resurrection. One Sunday morning soon, crowds of faithful Catholic men and women in Albany will climb the steps of every parish to hear the word of God, and march up to the altar to receive Christ’s body and blood. Will Andrew Cuomo be among them? What message would that send? The same message, I would argue, as Judge Leander Perez receiving communion in New Orleans would have sent – that the Church is not really serious about her teachings, at least not when they afflict the powerful.
Christ was a shepherd, and bade His successors, “Feed my sheep.” Obeying Him sometimes demands warning them against the wolves.
“Vice President Biden and Nancy Pelosi should certainly not receive communion, either at the papal installation or anywhere else. Communion means ‘union,’ and they are not in union with the church on the most fundamental moral issue of the right to life,” said Rev. Frank Pavone, founder of Priests for Life.
Catholic Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs said church law isn’t ambiguous.
“It’s clear to me that the Code of Canon Law, Canon 915, says that a Catholic politician who publicly espouses positions that are contrary, not just to any teachings of the church, but to serious moral teachings, should not receive Holy Communion until they recant those positions publicly. [... Vice President Biden] should know, and I would do everything I could do to make sure that he knows, he ought not to be receiving communion.”
LifeNews has reported it got an email from Catholic and pro-life advocate Deal Hudson, saying, “When pro-abortion politicians receive communion at public Masses a message is sent out that they are in good standing with the church, which they are not. … A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.”
The report said Biden’s bishop previously had corrected the politician for misstating the pro-life teachings of the church. Biden claimed it was a “gradation” for Catholics on whether abortion is right or wrong.
Reported Lifenews: “Not so, said Rev. W. Francis Malooly, the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington. He wrote in a letter to the editor that Biden ‘presents a seriously erroneous picture of Catholic teaching on abortion.’”
Pelosi’s conflict over the issue has been more flagrant. She criticized the church for having “this conscience thing” about abortion.
Two years ago she criticized Catholic bishops for opposing Barack Obama’s demand that insurance policies cover birth control, contraception and drugs that cause abortion.
Pope Francis, meanwhile, has stated that abortion is a “death sentence” for unborn children.