The Catholic Church in Huntington, New York, has rescinded its invitation to the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade to a state senator who voted for the state’s radical pro-abortion bill.
“For his pro-abortion vote, state Sen. James Gaughran no longer is invited to the Irish-American Catholic St. Patrick’s Day parade in Huntington, New York,” LifeNews reports. “The local Catholic organization also asked Gaughran to resign from its membership”
Monsignor Steven R. Camp, chaplain of the Ancient Order of Hibernians’ John F. Kennedy Division 4 of Suffolk County, strongly disapproved of Gaughran’s support of New York’s extreme abortion laws in a letter, saying it brings Catholics “great dismay.”
“The membership is dismayed that a member of their order could vote for such a law,” Monsignor Camp wrote. “This law violates all the principles the AOH has ascribed to since its founding, adherence to our Roman Catholic faith, and the security of the Irish race.”
In response to the rescinded invite, Gaughran said he does not believe that his voting record should reflect his religious views.
“Respectfully, I find this troubling and contrary to the principle that our elected officials must represent all their constituents, not just those with whom they share their religious beliefs,” he said. “I maintain my belief that a woman should have the right to make her own personal reproductive health care decisions.”
Gaughran continued: “To be honest, I do not see how any elected public official could faithfully uphold their fidelity to their constitutional oath while participating in an organization that requires specific votes based explicitly upon religious views or litmus tests.”
“While Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, and the Catholic Church are anti-choice, most Americans, including most Catholics, are pro-choice,” Cuomo said. “While governments may very well enact laws that are consistent with religious teaching, governments do not pass laws to be consistent with what any particular religion dictates.”
“The decisions I choose to make in my life, or in counseling my daughters, are based on my personal moral and religious beliefs,” Cuomo continued, adding that the “oath of office is to the Constitutions of the United States and of the State of New York – not to the Catholic Church. My religion cannot demand favoritism as I execute my public duties.”
Despite immense pressure from lay Catholics and fellow Bishops, Cardinal Timothy Dolan from New York decided against excommunicating Cuomo from the Catholic Church. He said in a statement:
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.
Second, 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.
Third, from a pastoral perspective, if a pastor – and a bishop is certainly a pastor of a diocese – knows of a grave situation involving a parishioner, it is his duty to address that issue personally and directly with the parishioner. That was the approach of Cardinal O’Connor and Cardinal Egan (both of whom I served), and it is Cardinal Dolan’s approach as well.
Fourth, and finally, from a strategic perspective, I do not believe that excommunication would be effective as many politicians would welcome it as a sign of their refusal to be “bullied by the Church”, thinking it would therefore give them a political advantage. (See, for example, the case of Bishop Leo Maher and Lucy Killea).