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(Holy) Wars and Rumors of (Holy) Wars in the tabloid press: such things must happen

March 5, 2011

We interrupt our regularly featured canonical commentary for these breaking observations on tabloid journalism…

I read with some bemusement yesterday as the New York Daily News tried to bait Andrew Cuomo and the bishops of New York into a “Holy War” by alleging the governor’s “snub” of the latter’s meeting out of anger that “the Vatican” had rebuked Cuomo’s living arrangements. Now, what I don’t know about New York politics would choke a horse, so I can’t definitively conclude for or against the tabloid theory. But I can say that,
to some guy sitting in Detroit, the NYDN headline “Cuomo snubs [NY] bishops after Vatican slap…” doesn’t make much sense.

First, “the Vatican” has not said anything about Andrew Cuomo’s cohabitation with Sandra Lee and the implications of that cohabitation for Cuomo’s reception of holy Communion. Rather, someone who is, as it happens, an advisor to “the Vatican” (well, really, an advisor to the Holy See, specifically, to a dicastery of the Holy See charged with certain canonical issues) has said something about Cuomo’s cohabitation with Lee and its implications for his reception of holy Communion. Folks can like what I said about the operation of Canon 915 in this case, or they can dislike it, (and there are many in both groups), but either way, the plain fact is, I’m the one talking here, not “the Vatican”.

Second, even if someone has convinced Cuomo that “the Vatican” is rebuking him, why would the governor take out his chagrin against “the Vatican” on the bishops of New York? The bishop of Albany gives the impression of being in the governor’s corner on this one and, though I think it wrong to parlay a single comment by the New York State Catholic Conference press rep (to the effect that bishops of New York “support” Bp. Hubbard in this case) as being, in fact, their considered position in this case, at least the impression can be taken that the state episcopal conference is on Cuomo’s side, too.

All of which prompts a simple question: since when would it be smart for a politician to snub individuals or a group who, in the face of a perceived adversary, are supporting him, or who at least, in the public’s mind, seem to be supporting him? But like I said, I know nothing about New York politics.

We now resume our regularly featured canonical commentary…

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