‘We have to come to the assistance of the poor and the vulnerable,” Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan said outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral after Mass on Sunday morning. “Wherever the dignity of human life . . . is threatened,” people of faith have a “sacred responsibility,” he said, to “speak up” and “come to the assistance” of those whose civil rights are endangered, most especially “the innocent baby in the womb.”
Just two days after New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, insisted that the Empire State has no place in it for people who believe in a “right to life” (more here), and three days before the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, 2,000 Catholic families, activists, and leaders in making the state more welcoming to life gathered at St. Patrick’s for Cardinal Dolan’s previously scheduled pro-life Mass.
This Wednesday, hundreds of thousands — many of them young people — will march on Washington, D.C., to protest Roe v. Wade. They will travel from throughout the Northeast and Midwest, and elsewhere; last year I spotted groups from North Dakota and Texas and Florida, to name a few.
Cardinal Dolan will be among the more than a thousand participants from the Archdiocese of New York; in anticipation of the anniversary, he spoke with me last week about the march, the Obama administration’s abortion-drug, contraception, and sterilization mandate, which affects the lives of even the Little Sisters of the Poor (the Archdiocese of New York and related agencies are currently protected by a temporary injunction), the culture, and Governor Cuomo’s legislation to expand access to abortion, which poses a new threat to life in the Empire State.
As the cardinal makes clear during the interview, the work to build a culture of life in New York continues, and the events of this week will provide an important witness to the country and a source of inspiration and renewal for the daily work at home — and, yes, even in Albany. — KJL
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Your Eminence, as you know, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has reintroduced the concept of a “Women’s Equality Act” as an agenda item for this year. Are you going to be a vocal opponent of it again? Why did you have problems with it last time and why might you continue to oppose it?
CARDINAL TIMOTHY MICHAEL DOLAN: Well, you bet, we’re going to be an opponent to one tragic part of it, which is the one that will radically expand the abortion license.
There are parts of the Women’s Equality Act that we can support. The bishops of New York, bolstered by the strong New York pro-life community, have said, “Hey, there’s a good chunk of the governor’s bill that we can support, but not that deadly one, radically expanding the abortion license.” We would very loudly say “no” to that. We have asked that the legislators be allowed to consider the individual parts of the law in separate bills, so that the good parts can move forward. Sadly, it is the people on the other side who are so insistent on expanding abortion rights that they would block all of the good parts of the law in order to try to get their way.
LOPEZ: Are you in an awkward spot on this and other issues? One side is talking about women’s health and freedom, so that it looks as if you’re saying “no” to women’s health and freedom! Is that an awkward position to be in? How would you suggest Catholics contend with that uncomfortable feeling?
CARDINAL DOLAN: I don’t know if it’s awkward as much as challenging. What we have to do is reclaim the narrative here, because this is not a women’s-health issue.
Anything that would take the life of the baby in the womb, anything that would risk harming the mother — which this radical expansion would — is hardly for women’s health. It’s certainly not healthy for the female babies in the womb who are aborted.