Cardinal Timothy Dolan, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and archbishop of New York, is urging Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers to reject pending bills to codify abortion rights and open a window for victims of child sex abuse to sue for old incidents.
Joined by other Catholic bishops from around New York, Dolan said the meeting was “friendly and substantive,” which covered a wide range of topics from Catholic education and prisons to the reproductive health act and budget cuts.
The group was "bolstered" by Cuomo's assurances Monday that following last year's legalization of gay marriage, which they opposed, he'll protect their religious freedom to not go along. “He said listen I need to assure you that I feel as passionately about the protection of religious freedom as I do about the redefinition of gay marriage, so that gave us consolation,” Dolan said.
Regarding abortions, Dolan says that rather than expanding that legal right, they want to see it narrowed. Dolan was particularly worried about the potential intrusion into the life of the church. “Our attorneys tell us be careful because if this law passes church health facilities and hospitals may be coerced into doing abortions,” he explained. He added Cuomo gave them "no assurances."
He said opening a one-year window for sex abuse suits now barred by a statute of limitation would devastate parish finances. He admitted that the one year window is what bothers the church. “Whenever you tamper with the statue of limitations you’re asking for trouble,” he said. He added it would single out the church and it would limit the “good works” of the church.
“We bristle sometimes, and I think we bishops have been very contrite in admitting that the church did not handle this well at all,” he said. “But we bristle sometimes in that the church doesn’t get the credit now in being in the vanguard of reform.”
Karen DeWitt contributed to this report.