New York Times Downplays Andrew Cuomo's Female Housemate as No Serious Conflict with the Catholic Church

Naturally, The New York Times has no interest in finding a scandal in the liberal Governor of New York "shacking up" or "living in sin," even though some Catholic experts recommended Andrew Cuomo should be denied communion for living with Food Network "Semi-Homemade" cook Sandra Lee. (There was no room for jokes that she's only a semi-homemaker without a wedding ring.) Cuomo is divorced and supports abortion and homosexuality, and somehow for liberal reporters that makes him typically Catholic:

In other words, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York shares the churchgoing habits and social views of a sizable number of the 68 million Americans who have identified themselves as Catholic in recent surveys. His brand of faith is so commonplace — at least in New York — that it was barely mentioned during his campaign last year for governor. 

Times reporter Paul Vitello seems to mangle the language from the very beginning:  "He goes to Mass, though not every Sunday. He considers himself a practicing Roman Catholic, yet avoids calling himself devout." By most definitions, a "practicing Catholic" means someone who routinely attends Mass on Sunday.

In fact, Vitello recounted Gov. Cuomo is nowhere close to that:  "By contrast, the Rev. Steven E. Clark, the pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., where the governor lives with Ms. Lee when they are not in Albany, said Mr. Cuomo attended services 'only very, very rarely.”'" The Times headline was "A Cuomo Who Is Catholic but Hardly Theological."

Still an ABC News religious host -- who, ahem, hosts a show with Cuomo's brother Chris -- was willing to vouch for the Cuomos as a very Catholic clan, and somehow this living arrangement is traditional:

“This is a very traditional Catholic family,” said the Rev. Edward Beck, a family friend who led the extended family in saying grace on Christmas Eve before the traditional Italian “feast of the seven fishes” at the home of the governor’s sister Maria Cuomo Cole.

The conflict over the governor’s faith began last month, when Edward N. Peters, who teaches at the seminary of the Archdiocese of Detroit and holds an appointment as an adviser to the Vatican on canon law, wrote that Mr. Cuomo should not be allowed to receive holy communion because he is divorced and living with his girlfriend, the Food Network host Sandra Lee, in what Mr. Peters called “public concubinage.”

In early March, Mr. Cuomo said he would be unable to meet with the bishops because of a scheduling conflict, a move that some in Albany interpreted as a deliberate snub in response to Dr. Peters’s criticism.

All was eventually patched up: Mr. Cuomo found time on March 8 to meet the bishops for lunch at his residence. Afterward, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany said that the question of whether the governor should receive communion was between Mr. Cuomo and his pastor.

Yet friends of the governor’s who were interviewed in recent days said Mr. Cuomo was disturbed at so promptly being thrust into the spotlight of conservative Catholics’ moral disapproval — rough treatment previously accorded only to the most high-profile Catholics, like Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts or former Mayor Rudolph W.Giuliani when they ran for president.

I’d say he was hurt, on his own behalf and on behalf of Sandra,” said John Marino, a family friend and a past chairman of the state Democratic Party.   

Ed Beck returned later in the story for more Cuomo-polishing. They don't have to go to church, since they're Catholics in their office work:

Friends and acquaintances, including priests close to the Cuomo family, portray the governor as a Catholic who practices his faith mainly through his work in public life. “He is part of a family that lives its faith rather than simply talking about it,” said Father Beck, co-host of a weekly ABC News program, “Focus on Faith,” with the governor’s younger brother, Christopher Cuomo.

Father Beck cited the governor’s work creating housing for the homeless before and during his tenure at HUD, and his advocacy for the poor throughout his career. “The Cuomos are doers,” he said.  

At the end of the story, Vitello presented the Archbishop of New York as insisting the Governor's gal pal is not a religious issue for him:

Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said the controversy did not arise during the governor’s “cordial” lunch with the bishops.

“Thank God it didn’t,” Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan told reporters after the meeting, “because it was a bit of a tempest in a teapot.”  

Thank God nobody cares? Did Vitello get this quote right? Others have insisted he's invented quotes out of thin air. If the quote is accurate, that's a surprisingly elastic stand, one that suggests the Catholic Church in New York has warmed up to divorce and unmarried cohabitation, at least at the top levels of government.

Tim Graham's picture


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