Cuomo hosts Catholic leaders at Capitol
Fat Tuesday marked the meeting of Governor Andrew Cuomo and several Catholic bishops, including Archbishop Timothy Dolan. This pre-Lenten lunch almost didn't happen, as the Cuomo administration originally said they didn't have time to meet with Dolan. Our Erin Billups explains.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Many wondered late last week whether Governor Cuomo was snubbing New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan by refusing to meet with members of the Catholic conference during its traditional lobbying day at the state Capitol.
"It was a bit of a tempest in a teapot," Dolan said.
Aides insist it was a misunderstanding. Governor Cuomo was on the road Monday when Dolan was originally hoping to meet with him, but he made time for the Archbishop and his conference Tuesday, welcoming them into his mansion with open arms.
"It worked out better. We got lunch out of it. I told him, I said 'I hope this doesn't add to your budget problems,'" Dolan said.
Last month, a Vatican lawyer said Cuomo should be denied Communion because he lives with his girlfriend, celebrity chef Sandra Lee. Asked about that, Dolan says it's not always wise to judge others.
"We'd appreciate you for understanding that that's a kind of delicate pastoral issue that probably this is not the best forum to speak about. Do we dodge those issues? No we don't," said Dolan.
The Archbishop preferred discussing the purpose of his trip to Albany: Lobbying for fairer treatment of Catholic schools in the Governor's budget, which Dolan says Cuomo seemed receptive of.
"We do the best job around, we do it at half price and we got room. It's a no brainer. I said 'can't we cooperate?' and he said 'yes, let's do it,'" said Dolan.
A spokesman for Cuomo says the Governor looks forward to working closely with the Catholic Conference.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop and about 100 other New York Catholics lobbied on issues including gay marriage and abortion. Reacting to a recent push against abortion rights in New York, a handful of lawmakers has created a new pro-choice group.
"We decided that we needed to speak out in one voice and say 'not here in New York,'" said Senator Liz Kruger.
In response, the Archbishop says the political climate is swinging in the direction of abortion opponents.
"We're talking about a premier Civil Rights issue, does the unborn baby have the right to equal protection in the law? We feel that the unborn child does," Dolan said.
The new "Choice Caucus" will have its first meeting next week.