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Canonist: New York's Governor Cuomo should be barred from Communion

February 24, 2011

A leading canon lawyer has criticized Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany for administering Communion to New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, a proponent of legal abortion who is openly living with a female partner to whom he is not married.

Edward Peters, a canon-law professor at Sacred Heart seminary in Detroit and a consultant to the Vatican’s top court, Apostolic Signatura, said that Cuomo’s “public concubinage” is clear and highly public violation of moral norms. He said that "as long as he persists in such conduct, he should refrain from taking Holy Communion" and "if he approaches for Holy Communion, he should be denied the august sacrament in accord with Canon 915." Peters added that Cuomo’s support for legal abortion could also be grounds for exclusion from Communion.

The fact that Cuomo received Communion during a Mass for his gubernatorial inauguration was a “grave scandal,” Peters told the CNSNews. He said that Bishop Hubbard’s homily during that Mass seemed to be “a failure in pastoral care, but more for what he did not say, than for what he did say.” In his homily, the bishop had said that Governor Cuomo would be "deeply immersed in the work of evangelization" in his new post.

After the comments by Peters were reproduced in the New York Times, Bishop Hubbard responded by saying that it is “unfair and imprudent” to comment on the situation “without knowing all the facts.”

The bishop’s statement did not provide any indication for what facts, if any, might have been missing from Peters’ analysis. Instead, Bishop Hubbard said: “As a matter of pastoral practice we would not comment publicly on anything which should be addressed privately, regardless if the person is a public figure or a private citizen.”

The bishop’s reference to private matters did not respond to the canonist’s criticism, since Peters was speaking about the public scandal caused by the governor’s public reception of Communion, in light of his public espousal of abortion and his public concubinage.

Governor Cuomo, however, followed the bishop’s lead, issuing his own statement to say: “My religion is a private matter and it’s not something I discuss in the political arena.”

[The New York Times said that Peters had declined a request for an interview. He did not. When contacted by the Times by telephone, Peters said that he did not have time for an interview at that moment, but could answer detailed questions later. The Times reporter did not call back.[


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Show 9 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: filioque - Feb. 25, 2011 1:45 PM ET USA

    What will become of the faithless shepherds? See Ezechiel 34 and Matt 21:33-41. The fact that Israel experienced the apostasy of her leaders and that Jesus spoke of it several times indicates that we should not be surprised. Watch and pray.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 25, 2011 11:38 AM ET USA

    If my doctor tells me that I should give up sitting around all day and get some exercise, shall I cry that my doctor is a meany? Bishop Hubbard is but another example of the danger of the episcopacy - its constant drag on the Church. He is too much at ease with the secular powers. He has too little care for his flock. What will he say to Our Lord when reproached for not defending his flock against sin? For not pointing to other in his flock that concubinage is a sin? Therein is the crux.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 25, 2011 8:02 AM ET USA

    Would that be Palestrina?

  • Posted by: Obregon - Feb. 25, 2011 12:12 AM ET USA

    Why isn't this bishop facing the music at the Vatican?

  • Posted by: filioque - Feb. 24, 2011 10:50 PM ET USA

    Hubbard turns 75 on Oct. 31, 2013. Perhaps B16 will appoint a coadjutor for him next year, so as not to delay the succession. Hubbard is one of the Jadot bishops, unfailingly liberal and appointed at such a young age (he was 38) that they have afflicted the Church in America for decades.

  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Feb. 24, 2011 8:35 PM ET USA

    Who is Bishop Hubbard's superior and why has he not taken action in this matter? The standards must be set and enforced at the top.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 24, 2011 8:26 PM ET USA

    The clergy, as in Bishop Howard Hubbard in this case, often say that we can't judge because we don't know all the facts, as if there is something in the situation with Cuomo and his live in girlfriend that we don't know that makes it all right. But we do know that what Cuomo and Lee are doing is adulterous, it's sacrilegious to receive Holy Communion living like that,and they will go to hell if they die like that. Edward Peters and his kind leave out the last part, the trump card.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Feb. 24, 2011 7:04 PM ET USA

    When does Hubbard turn 75?

  • Posted by: williiam ronner - Feb. 24, 2011 3:10 PM ET USA

    True to his core, the Bishop has demonstrated his lack of a properly formed conscience. One need only read the report found in The Wanderer several years ago to know that the bishop himself is in a constant state of grave sin. Why not encourage Gov Cuomo to exist in the same state instead of counseling him regarding his pro-abortion and pro-homosexual beliefs? One fact does exist. Gov Cuomo's soul is salvageable if he repents. Bishop Hubbard's is still in question.