MoDo (hearts) Cuomo
The New York governor and flavor-of-the-day for Democrats in 2016 talks to Maureen Dowd. Andrew Cuomo has certainly been impressive in his first months as governor, and there is something appealing (to a wonk like me, I guess) about the possibility of a presidential matchup in 2016 with his trans-Hudson rival, New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Two Northeasterners, two Catholics, two governors — cool. (Well, one Northeasterner and one Mid-Atlantic-er, I guess.)
In light of the topic du jour, gay marriage and Cuomo’s successful shepherding of the issue through the state legislature and the resulting teeth-gnashing by the Catholic hierarchy, MoDo went straight to the religious stuff, and Cuomo’s responses seem likely to resonate with one segment of the Church while they will just as likely repel another segment:
“So, Governor,” I asked, “are you afraid you’re going to hell?”
Andrew Cuomo, inculcated at Immaculate Conception grade school, Archbishop Molloy High School and Fordham University, chuckled. “There are forms of hell, Maureen,” he answered. “The question is, which level?”
He’s his father’s son, all right.
“It’s troubling for me as a Catholic to be at odds with the church,” he began, before dissolving into a wry laugh. “Having said that, it seems that my entire political life, the tension with the church has come up again and again.”
Just as his father seized a social issue and established himself in opposition to the church with his Notre Dame speech on abortion, now the son has seized a social issue and established himself in opposition to the church with gay marriage.
Is it genetic, I wonder.
“I have a portrait of Saint Thomas More in my office,” the governor said, calling from the statehouse in Albany. It is a picture Mario Cuomo once kept in his office. He gave it to Andrew as a present when he graduated from Albany Law School, and the younger Cuomo has kept it with him for 30 years as he moved from job to job and city to city. “It’s not the first time there is a tension between the teachings of the church and the administration of the law, for my father and for myself.” Dryly, he adds: “I haven’t lost my head yet.”
Far from it. The New York governor says he still goes to church with his three teenage daughters. He received Communion at his Inaugural Day Mass, but mostly abstains. He has managed to stay on good terms with New York’s pugnacious archbishop, Timothy Dolan, who waged a relatively muted battle against gay marriage that Cuomo calls “reasonable.”
When I asked if the archbishop would preside over the ceremony if the governor decides to tie the knot with the Food Network glamour girl Sandra Lee, Cuomo says it couldn’t happen “because I’m divorced.”
Another keeper was his characterization of Ed Peters, a canon lawyer in Detroit and popular conservative Catholic blogger, who won some notoriety for arguing that Catholics should call Cuomo’s live-in girlfriend a “concubine,” because that is the correct descriptive term.
“He was a blogger, not from my state,” Cuomo said of Peters. “I didn’t want to give it too much credibility.”
As for whether Lee was hurt by the crude, archaic term, he conceded, “It was not a pleasant conversation for anyone.”
Peters is routinely described as a “Vatican adviser” because he is a consultor to a curial committee, and while that counts for something, even Peters has indicated that the characterizations indicate a level of Roman connectivity that may not reflect reality.
Read the rest here.