How Former NY Gov. Mario Cuomo reconciled his faith and politics
- By Alison Lesley --
- 08 Jan 2015 --
Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo was a devout Catholic but also a staunch liberal. How was he able to reconcile the two seemingly opposite positions?
Last week, on New Year’s day, Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo passed away. Yesterday, he was remembered as at his funeral services. “At his core, he was a philosopher. He was a poet. He was an advocate. He was a crusader. Mario Cuomo was the keynote speaker for our better angels,” said his son, Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Governor Mario Cuomo was a Catholic. He was also an advocate for a women’s right to have an abortion and an outspoken supporter of liberal Catholicism. For many people, including some of his fellow Catholics, these two positions seem at odds with each other. The Catholic Church explicitly teaches that abortion is wrong. Cuomo reconciled this in an unusual way. He was one of few politicians to express these opinions publicly. The way he did so is rather admirable.
In an address titled “Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective” at the University of Notre Dame, Cuomo clearly defined his position. He stated he did not believe that his religious values should be imposed on others as their morality. Americans practice many different religions, as well as atheism, and Cuomo did not believe that it was right to take away anyone’s freedom. He believed that, in disrupting someone else’s freedom, it is quite likely that down the road, the freedom to be a Catholic could be affected too.
He also respected the Constitution and the legal system. As a result, he respected the freedoms granted in America, such as abortion, birth control, and divorce, even though the Catholic Church takes a strong stand against them. He said, “In fact, Catholic public officials take an oath to preserve the Constitution that guarantees this freedom. And they do so gladly. Not because they love what others do with their freedom, but because they realize that in guaranteeing freedom for all, they guarantee our right to be Catholics.”
While Former Governor Mario Cuomo may be gone now, he certainly can teach many of us about religion, freedom, and politics today. He was a breath of fresh air in this political climate that will surely be missed.