Andrew Cuomo, the Future of “Social Justice” Catholics
“We reached a new level of social justice this evening.” This remark from Gov. Andrew Cuomo after signing the same-sex marriage bill in New York state should alarm Catholics everywhere and Catholic bishops in particular. “Social justice” is the phrase under which many Catholics, as well as the Bishops’ Conference, engage in politics, particularly in support of civil rights and care for the poor and immigrants.
Gov. Cuomo, of course, is a Catholic, the son of a famous father Gov. Mario Cuomo who led the state of New York from 1983 to 1984. Mario Cuomo had a public duel with the late Cardinal O’Connor over abortion resulting in Cuomo’s landmark speech at Notre Dame in 1984. Cuomo argued that his belief in the Church’s teaching on abortion did not require that he support legislation in favor of that belief within a pluralistic society. Cuomo’s exact words were these:
“The values derived from religious belief will not — and should not — be accepted as part of the public morality unless they are shared by the pluralistic community at large, by consensus.”
Andrew Cuomo, in signing a same-sex marriage bill, condemned by the New York Catholic Bishops’ Conference, went even further than his father. The younger Cuomo did not argue that the Church’s teaching on marriage need not be enforced by law in a pluralistic society, rather he invoked the Church’s own language — social justice — to praise the legislation. “This state when it is at its finest – it is a beacon of social justice,” Cuomo said at the press conference following the bill signing.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t think of his state as being merely the 6th state to ratify same sex marriage, he sees it as another of “the great progressive movements that were birthed here in New York.” He is either hoping that all the states will follow, or a constitutional amendment will make marriage solely between a man and a woman a thing of the past.
Catholics who rally under the banner of “social justice” are already viewed as not giving much priority, as they should, to the abortion issue. Will a similar indifference to the marriage issue soon follow? The arrival of Andrew Cuomo as a leader in the Democratic Party and a potential 2016 presidential candidate, is undoubtedly a step in that direction.
No Catholic should let this abuse of social justice and the Church’s teaching on marriage pass by without being aware of its consequences on national politics. Not only does it signal the political importance of the marriage issue, but it also announces a new leader of Catholic dissident politicians — Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
By Deal Hudson, president of Catholic Advocate