Who Are the Real Extremists?

The Governor of the State of New York has an unfortunate tendency to engage in absolutist, take-no-prisoners political rhetoric.  Just a few years ago, he declared that anyone who opposed redefining marriage was “anti-New York and anti-American”.   So it really should be no surprise when his rhetoric gets out of hand, and shows a lack of respect for those who take opposing positions in good faith.

Nevertheless, the remarks he made the other day are particularly disturbing.  Commenting on some internal disputes among his Republican rivals, the Governor of all New Yorkers (even those who disagree with him) said this:

“Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.” (emphasis added)

I’m not a Republican, so it’s not for me to defend that party, or to get into the middle of an election-year political scrum.  But the Governor’s overheated language goes way beyond his political opponents.

Apparently our Governor thinks that there’s no place in our home state for anyone who believes that the laws should respect the right to life of all people, including the unborn, and who believe in the authentic definition of marriage.

But let’s ask ourselves — Who are the real extremists here?

It’s the public officials and the advocates who aren’t satisfied with New York being the abortion capital of America, a place with over 110,000 abortions each year.  It’s the people who oppose any reasonable regulations on abortion, including involving parents in decisions made by minors, full informed consent requirements, and so on.  It’s those  who want non-doctors to be able to perform abortions.  It’s the pro-abortion advocates who oppose health and safety regulations of clinics and who fight against any effort to inspect clinics.  It’s those people who want to redefine marriage and the family beyond recognition.   And it’s those who refuse to recognize faith-based objections, and slander those who stand on their faith for life and marriage.

This is not just a Catholic issue.  The Governor’s rhetoric encompasses the Catholic Church, but also the Orthodox Jewish community, the Evangelical Christian community, many mainline Protestant Churches and Muslims, and others of no religious faith at all.

It is deeply troubling when an elected official, who took an oath to uphold the Constitutions of our state and nation, casts out of polite society all those who disagree with him.  Remarks like these reflect not only a noxious political climate in our nation, but a deep-seated spiritual malady that St. Augustine called the libido dominandi, the lust to dominate and rule.

In an ironic way, it’s fortunate that the Governor made his unpleasant remarks in the midst of the U.S. Bishops’ “9 Days for Life” campaign of prayer, penance, and pilgrimage.  It’s a reminder that if we’re going to be “extremists” about anything, it should be in our prayer.  In particular, we can focus on the “9 Days for Life” prayer intention for tomorrow, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision:

For an end to legal abortion in our nation and for the conversion of all hearts, so that the inherent rights of every human being—especially those most at risk of abuse and rejection—will be upheld.

Friday’s prayer intention is also particularly appropriate:

For elected leaders who oppose any restriction on the abortion license: may God allow them to grasp the brutal violence of abortion and the reality of post-abortion suffering experienced by countless women and men.

All of our society is enriched when people of faith bring their values into the public square, and nobody benefits when people are cast out of our political debate.  Let us pray for genuine tolerance, and for a conversion of heart so that our beloved state can show authentic respect for life and marriage.

[This blog post was reprinted in the New York Post as an op-ed]

 

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9 Responses to “Who Are the Real Extremists?”

  1. Andrew Humphreys says:

    Very well said! Expanding on your well written piece, I would respectfully add that Governor Cuomo’s hurtful remarks have a significant impact on our children. Think of all the young minds in Catholic schools and religious education hearing that the governor in the state that they live does not approve of them or their Faith. In fact, he does not think they even belong in this state. How far have we fallen?

    In President Kennedy’s famous inaugural address on January 20, 1961, our country’s first Catholic President, not only said, Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, he said much more:

    “God’s work must truly be our own.”

    “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the Hand of God.”

    How far have we fallen? Governor Cuomo labels us as “extreme”. IT IS NOT extreme to stand up for the sanctity of Life and the traditional family. IT IS NOT extreme to be against the destruction of the unborn in a mother’s womb. IT IS NOT extreme to believe in GOD, and make His work truly our own.

    Think of the children hearing the Governor’s words. Empty apologies are not enough. Stop trying to expand abortion to late term and, ultimately, infanticide. Do you want more Gosnells? New York State is already the abortion capital in the United States.

    If you care about Catholic children, give their families tax credits and/or vouchers to attend schools of their choice. We are all overburdened in taxes. These families need a break.

    Politicians, pundits & favorable media will spin what Governor Cuomo said. Words can be empty. Watch his actions and tell your children, or the one’s that you teach, that politicians come and go, so always be on the side of the Angels. Always make God’s work truly your own.

    May God bless and keep safe those who can make it to the March for Life.

  2. Ray Mccormack says:

    Great reply Andrew. I especially liked, “In President Kennedy’s famous inaugural address on January 20, 1961, our country’s first Catholic President, not only said, Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, he said much more:

    “God’s work must truly be our own.”

    “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the Hand of God.”

    The Governor is already getting his wish NYS, especially NYC is already a 2 tier class system. The rich and the poor. The rich can afford it, and the poor are subsidized. Forget terms such as working class and middle class. They are a dwindling breed. Soon to be extinct.

    Liberals are happy with the poor. Liberals think they can “control” them by using economic givebacks. And pretend they are not buying their votes, but that they actually care for them.

    Cuomo is already greasing the wheels to legalize gambling. The rational being gambling hurts no one, and the state needs the revenue. When you legalize gambling you give a wink and a nod to alcoholism, drug addiction, suicide, broken families, abortion… Can you imagine the reaction of the media if a person to the right made a suggestion to raise revenue and the results of the suggestion would include all those attachments I mentioned. He would be condemned and the secular press would call him/her immoral. Let us pray to God for guidance and help.

  3. Peter Rox says:

    The Church should focus on persuading the hearts and minds of individuals, and not expect government to do this for the Church. There are many who think that fewer would turn to abortion if they were in better economic circumstances. The hierarchy has itself totally locked in with Republicans who oppose raising the minimum wage. Don’t you think that many abortions are the result of people saying they can not afford to rase a child? Even off you think that this should not be an argument, I think it is a fact.
    All the hub-bub against gays and same sex marriage is doing nothing to encourage heterosexual marriage. The age at first marriage in much of the world is topping thirty years old. Of course, in the meantime, there is cohabitation, sport sex, abortion, lack of commitment in many instances. The attacks on the gays (who at least want to get married) do nothing to address all the real issues of heterosexual marriage.
    I wish the hierarchy would come out against guns, assault weapons, etc. What could be more pro-life? Again, this goes against their shot-gun marriage with the Republican party.

  4. [...] the website of the Archdiocese of New York, an aide to Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote that, “It is deeply troubling when an elected official, [...]

  5. Laura L. says:

    Peter, you are correct in stating that we must reach the heart and mind of the individual if there is going to be a change. The government is an entity which consists of individuals, many of whom are voting in direct opposition to Church teaching. Homosexuality has always been with the human race. This does not mean it is a norm and historically, society has agreed. However, since heterosexuality is now “open and free” and is flourishing outside of the marital covenant, homosexuality is now doing the same, due to society’s misunderstanding of what freedom truly is. Funny thing, how the tides turn: heterosexuality seeks now to be illegitimate; homosexuality seeks to be legitimate! We live in an era where we call good, bad and vice versa. The society fails to see the goods that it has possessed over the years. The hierarchy needs to come far more strongly on these issues – you are 100% correct. The pulpit has been very quiet. Funny, I have been to pre-cana recently (actually 2 separate sessions) and in both sessions, the facilitators have either poo-pooed NFP or stated that they would not cover it, since “we are all adults.” The Church is failing in proclaiming the truth of her teachings and so everything is getting watered down. I regret folks quoting JFK – he did more to advance misunderstanding of separation of church and state than anyone. Just because one checks the box next to “Catholic” does not mean that he is a Catholic.

  6. [...] free speech, and the pluralistic and truly diverse society that free speech facilitates?” On the website of the Archdiocese of New York, an aide to Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote that, “It is deeply troubling when an elected official, [...]

  7. Mike Kehoe says:

    You nailed it! Thank for such an articulate response to Mr. Cuomo’s momentary lapse of honesty!

  8. Ed Mechmann says:

    @ Peter

    Actually, the New York State Bishops and the US Bishops have long been advocates for regulation of gun ownership, and have specifically identified this issue as part of our pro-life agenda.

  9. Peter Rox says:

    I do not think Laura understood my point. I do NOT think that the hierarchy needs to keep telling the civil government what to do. Our hierarchy has done a horrible job running the church, and is in no position to try to persuade the non-denominational civil society how to act. We have known for a great many years about the money-laundering by the Vatican bank and its ties to organized crime. Yet, it persists. Finally, there is at least one monsignor caught red-handed facing a criminal trial in Italy. It’s a much worse situation about all the sex abuse cases world wide. It has shaken people’s faith, cost our church billions $$$ of our donations, all mismanaged by the hierarchy. We are truly far off from total financial transparency in our church.

    It is inconsistent with the Gospel for the Church to work so hard to marginalize an group, especially those already marginalized. Yet, the Church is rallying the Knights of Columbus and draining them of funds in its anti-gay crusade. Let’s be honest, the “protect marriage” war has nothing to do with heterosexual marriage at all and everything about fighting gays.
    There is so much that we could be doing to strengthen marriage in the church. Allowing what the church calls “artificial” contraception is one thing that would strengthen marriage. The Church has a perverted theology of sex exemplified by not allowing unmarried deacons to marry, or widowed deacons to re-marry. What’s up with this? It’s the same old obsession with all things pelvic.