Welcoming Life to New York City

Today I participated in a conference hosted by the Chiaroscuro Foundation. Here are my remarks from the press conference:

I sure appreciate the courtesy of being invited, and am honored to be in such distinguished company for a noble cause about which we are all very passionate.

Thanks, journalists, for your interest.

For the first time in my happy twenty-one months as a New Yorker, I am embarrassed to be a member of a cherished community I now — – usually with a lot of pride — – call home.

That 41% of New York babies are aborted — – a percentage even higher in the Bronx, and among our African-American babies in the womb — – is downright chilling.

This New York community is rightly celebrated for its warm welcome to immigrants, for its hospitality, sense of embrace and inclusion, and gritty sensitivity for those in need.

But we are tragically letting down the tiniest, most fragile and vulnerable: the little baby in the womb.

We have to do more than shiver over these chilling statistics!

I invite all to come together to make abortion rare, a goal even those who work to expand the abortion license tell us they share.

A quarter century ago, Cardinal John O’Connor publicly stated: “Any woman who is pregnant and in need can come to the Church and we will help you,” a pledge Cardinal Egan, and now I, reaffirm.  Through our Catholic charities, our adoption services, our lobbying on behalf of pregnant women and mothers of infants, our support for life-giving alternatives to the decision all call tragic — – abortion, — – in our education of youth for healthy, responsible, virtuous sexual behavior, our health care, — – we have done our best to keep that promise, … and these haunting statistics only prod us to keep at it.

Mother Teresa remarked that the worst poverty was to take the life of a baby so we could live, as we want.  New York does not deserve the gravestone, “Abortion capital of the world.”  Our boast is the Statue of Liberty, not the “Grim Reaper.”

Thanks for listening.

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29 Responses to “Welcoming Life to New York City”

  1. Matt Schiller says:

    Beautifully said. Thank You Archbishop.

  2. Larry says:

    “I invite all to come together to make abortion rare…” Excuse me? “RARE?” Am I hearing that right? Surely Your Eminence, this was a slip of the tongue. You meant to say, “DO AWAY with abortion,” did you not? I’ve certainly never heard any prelate say, for example, “we want nuclear war to be rare,” or “murder (or child abuse, spousal abuse, etc) to be rare.” I admit that it is not possible to ACTUALLY eliminate sin, but that is surely not the same thing as implying you would be satisfied with fewer babies being murdered. A faux pas I’m sure, but nonetheless a strange and unsettling one.

  3. Carolyn & Barbara Volpicello says:

    Thank you Archbishop Dolan for speaking out for the unborn.

  4. Irene says:

    I agree that the best way to decrease abortions are through the things you describe: finding ways to support women and families in need. We need to change our world so that the prospect of having a healthy baby is never a tragic circumstance for a woman, but a joyful blessing. I would also suggest that, in addition to ensuring women and families have enough financial assistance that they don’t live in poverty, we should also work for quality universal health care and universal child care. Also, we should provide job protection to all pregnant women; we should make sure that they don’t risk losing their livelihood if they need to stop work for a while when they’re having a baby. These are achievable things we can all work for and I think these supports would go a long way to reducing abortions.

  5. Maureen McCormack says:

    Thank you, Archbishop Dolan, for your words. May they touch the hearts of all mothers-to-be and guide them to carry their babies safely to term. That is our prayer.

  6. Richard says:

    So how will you address our “Catholic” governor when he approaches the altar since he openly advocates for abortion on demand to be the policy of the state. Will you stand for the truth and leave no doubt in the mind of the faithful by blessing him but denying him communion, or will you take the route of the infamous “Bishop” Hubbard in Albany last Sunday and allow him to receive along with his “house-mate”; thereby causing great confusion and scandal among Catholics and non-Catholics alike?

    Your words sound fine, but actions are what counts ……..

  7. Lisa says:

    Sorry Larry, but “rare” was not a slip of the tongue. This is what he meant to say. Wanting abortion to be rare is what all the liberals say.

  8. Helen says:

    I am so grateful for your participation in this Chiaroscuro Foundation, which I read about in the New York Times today. What I am particularly happy about is the presence of Leslie Diaz, a spokeswoman for Democrats for Life of New York, at the gathering.

    In the mid-term election I was appalled to read that 17 Pro-Life Democrats who had voted for the Health Care Bill were “targeted” by the Susan B. Anthony List, which claims to be non-partisan. A prominent pro-life priest claimed that they were being “punished” (That’s the word he used) for their vote. Ten of the Seventeen did not get reelected.

    Sadly, the pro-life cause has lost some important voices within the Democratic Party. I think you should know that I and many other Catholics firmly believe that such pro-life Democrats are crucial to the pro-life cause and did not deserve to be targeted and punished for voting their consciences.

  9. Ed Mechmann says:

    Larry — The Archbishop was making an argument similar to that proposed by Pope John Paul II in The Gospel of Life for legislators who are trying to reduce the damage done by abortion, on the way to a total elimination of it.

    Here’s what the Holy Father said (EV #73):

    “when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”

    Nobody is in doubt that the Church, and Archbishop Dolan, are working towards the total elimination of abortion, and the abrogation of the iniquitous laws that permit it. But this press conference was an attempt along that road, to raise consciousness, to convert hearts.

  10. Garrett says:

    Larry,

    I don’t think that’s fair to His Excellency was implying that making abortion “rare” is THE goal to work toward. Rather, it is a goal that even the proponents of abortion [officially] say they support: a decrease in the number of abortions. I understand HIs Excellency’s sentence may be open to some ambiguity, but Christian charity implores you to assume the best. His Excellency Archbishop Dolan is unquestionably one of the strongest supporter of the lives of the unborn in this country.

  11. Brian Cook says:

    Thank you, your excellency.

    Irene, I also commend your comment.

  12. Greg Kelly says:

    Yet Pro Abortion Politicians still recieve the Sacrament of Holy Communion? Cuomo in NY…..

  13. Tony Adams says:

    Dear Archbishop Timothy,
    During the last 16 years (the time period presented on the site you link) the Bronx abortion rate has hovered around the 50% mark. In the other boroughs, the numbers show some (slight) decrease. I’m no statistician, but I think this could be linked to the economic realities and demographics of the five boroughs. I hope you and the archdiocese are looking at the economics of abortion as well as the morality or immorality of it. I think you should focus and direct most of your resources and outreach into the Bronx where the need is greatest. Have you considered moving your residence out of Manhattan and into a Bronx rectory for a year or two? That might be good for you and for the Bronx.

  14. Irene says:

    Do people think its appropriate for lay Catholics, like Richard above, to publicly call for the excommunication of other Catholics? I’m kind of uncomfortable with that. (I have a big enough log in my own eye, so to speak). Isn’t that a private matter between Catholics and their bishop?

  15. Mary says:

    Irene, wake up! 79% of minority pregnancies in NYC end in abortion. You may be uncomfortable but the unborn are dead! And our taxes are paying for it. Your darn right I want Archbishop Dolan to talk to Cuomo. And if he continues to go his own way, I want him to be told (in public) to send back his baptismal certificate.

  16. Irene says:

    But, Mary, is it up to you, as a lay person, to call for Cuomo’s excommunication? You don’t know what is in other people’s hearts, is it really right for you to judge who can receive communion? I would never think of calling for someone else’s excommunication. I don’t see that as my role, I think it is up to our bishops. Isn’t that better left for Archbishop Dolan to deal with the Catholic in question, if there is an issue, rather than for you or me?

  17. Richard says:

    Irene,
    I think the frustration that many of us share is that there is nothing being done by the Bishops with respect to so-called Catholics who PUBLICLY call for policies that are in direct opposition to Church teaching; and those policies promote things that are inherently evil.
    It bothers us when these politicians trumpet their catholic “faith” during elections, then leave it behind when it comes time to stand up for their faith.
    We need Bishops who will defend the faith no matter what. Remember Henry VIII and how the pope at the time refused him an annulment even though it cost the Church the entire nation of England. That pope was a Bishop who understood his responsibility to God and the flock he was entrusted with. The sanctity of marriage was more important than any one man’s desires, no matter who that man was..
    Anyway, staying on topic…..abortion is murder according to the Catholic Church. If Bishops will not stand up for the Faith and oppose those who promote murder within their own flock, then how can they expect to influence the rest of society?

  18. Mary says:

    “….If there is an issue?” Irene, you’re not sure there is an issue here. We have a man who is a public official, catholic, and supports abortion and homosexual marriage and will use his office to promote those evils? That’s iffy?

    Archbishop Dolan will do what bishops do pastorally.

    Me? I want the governor to stay away from Communion. I don’t know the man, I don’t know his heart. In my judgment, by his behavior in support of sin, he is out of grace. Running on empty. So if I were behind him in the Communion line, I hope I would have the courage to tap him on the shoulder and ask him to step away, make a spiritual Communion instead. I hope (I pray) I would have the courage to intervene in this terrible offense against Our Eucharistic Lord.

  19. Irene says:

    Mary, Richard, thank you for your thoughtful response. The “if”, Mary, was not meant to be about our Governor specifically, but about Catholics generally who might be engaged in behavior that could warrant excommunication. (Specific to the Governor, I think there are a lot of “ifs” actually, starting with the fact that his views on abortion are irrelevant, since it is the legislature which passes the laws around abortion and the budget to fund them) I actually think elected officials have a complicated situation, in that they are sworn to uphold the law.

    I share your unhappiness, Richard, with politicians who hold themselves out as one thing and then do another once elected.

    But my question really hinges around how appropriate is it for the rest of us to call for the excommunication of a fellow Catholic? In politics, the discourse in this country has become so very toxic; we vilify and call traitor our neighbors who disagree with us; I think it is harming our country. I think the discourse within the Catholic Church has become equally toxic. It is one thing to say I believe my neighbor is very wrong in her beliefs about abortion; it is even fine for me to say this very vehemently. But to call for my neighbor’s excommunication takes it to an extreme and divisive level, a place where lay people actually are not required to go and maybe we shouldn’t. I think it is bad for our Church.

    I did not vote for Governor Cuomo, but I would have no problem giving him the kiss of peace at Mass.

  20. JD says:

    Well stated, Archbishop, and well done. Thank you! (BTW, Irene, I like what you said, but Mary is obviously just stating her opinion – and a good one at that. I don’t think any of us believe Cuomo is in the right, or Bishop Hubbard, for that matter.)

  21. Andrew Piacente says:

    This quote by Irene is maddening, “we vilify and call traitor our neighbors who disagree with us.”

    There were Germans who believed Jews should be exterminated while others believed this was barbaric. Can one call this a simple disagreement?

    Can there be an opinion on whether murder is right or wrong? This is absolutely mind boggling.

  22. Irene says:

    Andrew, We need to begin to find a way to speak to each other respectfully. No one here is defending abortion; people of conscience, though, have different viewpoints on how we can come together to reduce abortions in our city. Drawing comparisons to Hitler’s final solution is unfair and does nothing to bring us together and move us towards what we all see as a common goal.

  23. Andrew Piacente says:

    No Irene, we need leaders who will tell Catholics who vote for pro death candidates that they face eternal damnation for not fighting for the most defenseless among us because they are complicit in these deaths.

    We need leaders who adhere to Magisterial teaching and Canon Law such as Canon 915 which prohibits the “handing” of our Lord and Saviour over to people who defend and promote this slaughter just as Judas handed Him over.

    We have a brand new generation coming along seeing this duplicity and not knowing what to think. Ambiguity is killing us.

    It’s one of the main reasons why ex Catholics are the second largest denomination in our country.

    How does one dialogue with someone who has no problem with the actual killing of a little boy or girl in their own mother’s wombs? Where does one begin?

    Archbishop Dolan must forget about the big donors to appeals of all sorts and preach the truth loud and clear. He has been chosen as a national spokeman for Our Lord’s Church. I pray that he uses that position for Catholics everywhere who have lost their way.

  24. Mary says:

    Irene,

    I’m a Catholic and I want to stop abortion. I don’t want to find \common goals\ with \people of conscience\ so we can all \agree to disagree\. That is not unity.

    I’m a Catholic and I want to stop abortion. Our state and federal rulers are modern day Herods and Pharaohs. I would be genuinely interested in knowing exactly what your viewpoint is on how we can reduce abortions in our city.

  25. Irene says:

    Here’s the problem, Mary & Andrew: the majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal in at least some instances. Also, since the majority of Americans are not Catholic, what our bishops and archbishops have to say on any issue would actually not matter to most Americans. Since there is a constitutional right to abortion in America, in order to reduce abortions through legislative means- get enough political support to change the Constitution- we need to persuade at least some of our fellow Americans to change their current views. Same with the death penalty; as Catholics, we know it is wrong, but in order to stop it, we must work to persuade other Americans of this truth.

    I don’t think name-calling will actually do much to get people to change their minds and their votes. So, even apart from whether this language of divisiveness is appropriate, let me put the question back to you, Mary: How has that been working out? As this thread points out, abortion is at an all time high in the City, so I guess maybe we better be thinking about different ways to tackle it.

    Regarding my own viewpoint on how we can reduce abortions, I expressed it earlier in the thread. I appreciate very much the Archbishop’s call for all of us to come together around this terrible situation and I also appreciate his promise to help women and families in need. I fully support the programs and services he talks about and would be happy to work actively to see them expanded.

  26. Mary says:

    Irene,

    I’m offended that you put the death penalty, even offhandedly, into this discussion. The death penalty accounts for roughly 50 adult deaths a year. Each death sentence is meted out only after years, even decades of legal protections for the criminal have been exhausted. Abortion takes a million innocents a year; the unborn have committed no crime. They are unwanted, inconvenient, defective — doesn’t matter the reason, we give them no protection under the law. Their deaths are as close to legal Calvary as we get.

    Also, let’s not switch this discussion from catholics and catholic politicians to the majority of Americans. I’m keeping this in the family.

    And then there is the worst bogeyman of all: namecalling. Isn’t it ironic that when I liken the behavior of our catholic politicians to Herod and Pharaoh, you namecall me a namecaller. I think you’re more upset by what you characterize as namecalling than our catholic Herods are.

    You sound like Sarah Palin when you ask about my language of divisiveness: How has that been working out? …Remember her saying: How’s that hopey changey thing working out? Funny.

    Seriously, on the surface it is not working out. In fact, some days it looks like our country is a total disaster. But as Fr. Corapi recently wrote: No matter what political party is in power, in the end those that remain faithful to Jesus Christ win the war…despite many battles outnumbered and even despised and looked upon as criminals and outcasts by a society that is unraveling and degenerating into something no one could have imagined.

    So it is my mission to put up the good fight. My battleground is the fight for life. I will demand in whatever language is appropriate that our catholics in office carry a big stick and protect all life. While the destiny of the unborn is currently a fait accomplie, I’m next when they come for the elderly and sick.

    And I’m certainly not going to put my eternal life at risk by smiling and courtseying to wrong-headed catholic politicians like Rangel, Biden, Cuomo, Pelosi, Sebelius, Leahey…….

  27. Larry says:

    Irene: I’m afraid you’ve made a couple of misstatements of fact in your January 28 post. “…There is a constitutional right to abortion in America…” It would be more accurate to say that in 1973 the United States Supreme Court CLAIMED that a constitutional right to abortion existed. The fact is that the constitution says nothing about abortion or pregnancy, and no one in the history of our republic was aware of this alleged constitutional right until the day the Roe decision came out. “Same with the death penalty; as Catholics, we know it is wrong…” As a Catholic, I know no such thing. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 2nd Ed clearly states in #2267 that the death penalty is a legitimate recourse in certain limited situations. The much-older Catechism of the Council of Trent, also known as the Catechism of Pope Pius V, says this in its section on the 5th Commandment which prohibits killing (I quote from the 1829 English translation published in London): “Again, this prohibition does not apply to the civil magistrate, to whom is entrusted power of life and death, by the legal and judicious exercise of which he punishes the guilty and protects the innocent. The use of the civil sword, when wielded by the hand of justice, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this commandment which prohibits murder.” Even God Himself, speaking to Moses, prescribes the death penalty for the Israelites, such as in Exodus 21: 12-15: “Whoever strikes a man a mortal blow must be put to death….when a man kills another after maliciously scheming to do so, you must take him even from my altar and put him to death. Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death.” On the other hand, Catholic teaching going all the way back to the Didache of the Apostles clearly and consistently states that abortion is murder–period. And I am not aware of God ever prescribing the use of abortion for any purpose in Scripture.

  28. Irene says:

    Hi Larry. Have you seen the US Conference of Catholic Bishop’s website in the section on pro-life activities? In addition to detailing the bishops’ position on abortion, it has extensive information on their position on the death penalty. Our bishops have been calling for an end to capital punishment for decades.

  29. Mary says:

    Irene,

    The death penalty accounts for roughly 50 adult deaths a year. Each death sentence is meted out only after years, even decades of legal protections for the criminal have been exhausted. Abortion takes a million innocents a year; the unborn have committed no crime. They are unwanted, inconvenient, defective — doesn’t matter the reason, we give them no protection under the law. As far as I know, Catholic teaching does not hold the death penalty as inheritantly evil.

    I’d prefer to keep the discussion in the family, about catholics and catholic politicians, not the majority of Americans.

    As for namecalling…. Isn’t it ironic that when I liken the behavior of catholic politicians to Herod and Pharaoh, you namecall me a namecaller.

    When you ask about my language of divisiveness: How has that been working out? …you sound like Sarah Palin. Remember her saying: How’s that hopey changey thing working out? Funny.

    Seriously, on the surface it is not working out. In fact, some days it looks like our country is a total disaster. And that catholics are leading the charge over the cliff. But as Fr. John Corapi recently wrote: No matter what political party is in power, in the end those that remain faithful to Jesus Christ win the war…despite many battles outnumbered and even despised and looked upon as criminals and outcasts by a society that is unraveling and degenerating into something no one could have imagined.

    My part is to fight the good fight for life in our city. That means I will demand in whatever language, behavior and civility that is appropriate and at every opportunity that calls for it, that I will hold catholics in office to a higher standard because of their public standing. If that is hard, then please, Mr. Cuomo, stay off the communion line. Stay off the communion line.