Canonist Ed Peters about Bp. Hubbard and on Gov. Cuomo receiving Communion

This is a commentary by the distinguished canonist Ed Peters about the public perception of New York’s new governor, Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo’s concubinage and holy Communion

Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, and Sandra Lee, a television celebrity, live in what is known technically as public concubinage. The fact that both Cuomo and Lee are divorced renders the concubinage adulterous on both sides as well.

Under Decretal law, concubinage among laity was a crime that, if not foresworn after three warnings, could result in the excommunication of the offender(s). Taunton, The Law of the Church (1906) at 226. Under Pio-Benedictine law, lay concubinage was a crime that, upon conviction, could result in “exclusion from ecclesiastical acts”, something less than interdict (itself one step shy of excommunication). 1917 CIC 2357 § 2. Finally, under the Johanno-Pauline Code, concubinage among lay persons is not criminalized, though it can have some effects under marriage law which are not relevant to this case. 1983 CIC 1093.

But, notwithstanding the steady canonical “decriminalization” of concubinage (basically for the same kinds of reasons that led to adultery being decriminalized in most states), [This gets to the meat of it…] the lifestyle adopted by Cuomo and Lee continues to have—or should have—serious consequences under Canon 915 for the reception of holy Communion. [The canon which applies also in the case of public scandal in the matter of support for abortion.]

Cuomo, on the grounds of his public concubinage alone (and setting aside complications arising from his strong support for legalized abortion, etc.), should not approach Communion per Canon 916; if he does approach, he should be refused the sacrament per Canon 915. Cuomo should still attend Mass, of course (c. 1247), and within one year of his last Confession he should duly receive that sacrament again (c. 989), but he should not be taking Communion while he lives in public concubinage. And if Lee is Catholic, the exact same analysis would apply to her.

It is Albany Bp. Howard Hubbard’s responsibility to see to it that the common discipline of the Church is promoted and that all ecclesiastical laws are observed, exercising particular vigilance against abuse of the sacraments and the worship of God. 1983 CIC 392.

Unfortunately, Hubbard’s rah-rah inaugurational homily before Cuomo and Lee, in which, without admonition for their objectively and publicly sinful status, the prelate seemed to have anointed the pair as his kind of evangelizers in government, and his complicity in the administration of Communion to Cuomo, amounts, in my opinion, to another dereliction of pastoral duty. + + +

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  1. Jack007 says:

    What could anyone add to that? Talk about not holding back!
    We are indeed living in disordered times.
    I think a cup of Mystic Monk coffee would be in order after reading that.
    God save us all.
    Jack in KC

  2. Depressing. Is there some point at which Rome becomes involved?

  3. La Sandia says:

    What is it with Upstate NY and its bishops?

  4. EXCHIEF says:

    And the political party affiliation of the Bishop would be?

  5. Randii says:

    The political affiliation? To answer that question – Democrat of course.

    The US Catholic church is basically a shill for the Democrat party. Has been for a long time, won’t change IMO.

    To that point – on the “Bishop’s Hour” of my local Catholic radio station – time given by the station to the local bishop for an hour program of his own – the end of year question came up about politics in the new 112th Congress.

    The bishop’s spokeperson take on the recent election was one of concern – this is a paraphrase but close:

    That a large number of moderate Democratic Congressman has lost their seats to be replaces by very conservative Republicans. The worry for the bishop’s spokeperson was that progress on social issues will come be a halt. Especially immigration. And healthcare which the new Congress might try to rollback.

    IMO the US Catholic church is all about a progressive social agenda and is at the forefront in trying to bring that about. From helping to erase US borders to supporting climate change policies to .. . – well the local diocesan newspaper the week before the lame duck votes devoted much space to the Dream Act and the absolute need to pass it but nary a word on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

    Rome knows full well what goes on in the US church IMO and has chosen and continues to choose to do nothing.

  6. Joy says:

    This stuff just keeps on giving, doesn’t it…Every time I read something like this I wonder about what I have been taught about mortal sin. Isn’t it a serious sin when someone co-operates in sin? Isn’t that what the Bishop is doing? Maybe I am over reacting?
    joy in MO

  7. Dr. Eric says:

    Ugh, there’s another reason to hate Sandra Dee’s show on the Food Network.

  8. Joseph-Mary says:

    Nothing new about this in Albany. I do believe the bishop is 72 years old….
    three more years…

    But this scandal allowed and in essence applauded with impunity is a travesty of note.

  9. FredM says:

    And I was wondering what the hell Cuomo was doing taking up a seat at midnight mass at St. Patrick’s since he isn’t catholic.

    I’m going to call Bp Hubbard tomorrow. Maybe I’ll just go to Albany instead!

  10. benedetta says:

    Wishing all three success in their future endeavors as proseltyzers or evangelizers or whatever it was…and in their various planned, um, transformations…in the universe of the excruciatingly formed magisterial supremely elite and evolved private conscience…at any rate I guess it’s Danke Schoen in just three years…

  11. TJerome says:

    Bishop Hubbard has his own issues. I’m shocked he hasn’t been removed by the Holy See. This is just the “icing on the cake” for a career typified by a horrible record as a guardian of the Faith. Cuomo is just another fake Catholic and stalwart of the Abortion Party (formerly the Democratic Party)

  12. benedetta says:

    Even in very liberal dioceses it is still quite common that divorced Catholics who haven’t received annulments abstain from going to communion. Guess this is sort of a pastoral nose-thumbing to those regular folks…ah, the privileges of the elite and entitled class!

  13. JimGB says:

    As a resident of the once-great state of New York, I am not surprised by anything that happens in Albany, whether political or liturgical. Bishop Hubbard is emblematic of the capital culture, but he too will be gone someday (soon) and hopefully with Archbishop Dolan as the metropolitan there will be a more orthodox bishop installed.

  14. Leefstrong says:

    I was trying to warn people about him long before the election. I also briefly commented on this incident. (
    Alas, too few listen – or I’m told it’s between Cuomo and God!

  15. New Sister says:

    Wouldn’t canon 915 also apply for the public scandal caused by his support for (so-called) “gay marriage”? Attendance at “gay-pride” parades?

  16. My big gripe with Andrew Cuomo is that he is just another abortionist like his dad. And, like another wonderful abortionist governor of New York, Hugh Carey, after Cuomo is safely out of office, he’ll probably confess that he was wrong about abortion. I am ashamed to live in a state that elected a Cuomo not once, but twice.

    If I were a bishop, any such “Catholic” public official would be barred from setting foot on any church property in my diocese except for the cathedral rectory until he set himself right with the Church. Fortunately, I have noticed that Pope Benedict has not been letting the resignation letters of the less stellar bishops collect dust these days when they turn 75. I see from Ed Peters’ fine web site that Bishop Hubbard turns 75 in October of 2013, well before Cuomo’s term ends. At that time, we could see some fireworks.

  17. JonM says:

    Just another small snapshot of the world rolling down the River Styx.

    The fact is, there is the Internet. If the Church were to adopt even a Mom and Pop style of management, obvious abuse like this would be corrected from HQ (Rome) immediately.

    Instead, it continues along with it, effectively as a co-conspirator.

    It is the New Church of Me (commonly called Spirit of Vatican II) that allows for total disregard of Catholic teaching, Church law, and basic natural virtue. It should then be no wonder that we live in a world rife with rapists in the Priesthood; sin cannot stop and evil will ultimately consume those who believe the devil is merely ‘not forgiving one’s self’ or ‘a state of mind.’

    Look no further than this case of Mr. Cuomo, or the open flouting of Humanae Vitae by roughly 90% of Catholics in the pews to understand why the Church is in a free fall.

    La Salette, Fatima, Akita all paint a clear and consistent portrait of the world’s slide. Rather than the green shoots NeoCaths keep telling me about, I’m seeing something more along the lines of a Marco Brambilla.

  18. Not surprising about Bp. Hubbard if you know his history. Sad, but not a surprise.

    NY gov.’s spend much time in NYC, with an office there and all. I have hope in Archbp. Dolan. I pray he makes the correct decision.

  19. Kerry says:

    Once…just once please, would that a Bishop strike the floor with the but of his crozier and say “No!! Thus far and no farther!!”

  20. Fleeb says:

    Does any part of the 1917 Code still apply since he quoted part of it, or does the 1983 Code completely supercede it?

    I’d like to see the bishops of Arlington and Washington DC jointly declare that no pro-abort “Catholic” politician in their dioceses shall be admitted to Communion, but my offer on the Golden Gate Bridge will probably close before that happens…

  21. Nathan says:

    I know it’s scandalous, and from the lay perspective, exceedingly frustrating to see our prelates not take canon law action against pro-abortion politicians. Unfortunately, however, the bishops (collectively–there are some fine notable individual exceptions) have painted themselves into a corner because they have been unable or unwilling to clean out the ranks of the clergy and religious first. Were a bishop to act against pro-abortion politicians (particularly one with the lineage and ties of a Cuomo), the first thing they would publicly say is, “Why are you singling me out for censure? Your own priests and sisters and theologians–with your knowledge–told me that my political position is acceptable. They are still in good standing, and you’re picking on me, a layperson!”

    And the terrible thing about that statement is that it would be true.

    In Christ,

  22. Wayne NYC says:

    the present bishops of Albany and of Rochester have maintained
    a long sad reign since they were first installed.
    Our Lady of LaSalette pray for us.

  23. New Sister says:

    Fleeb – AMEN to that!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Supertradmum says:

    Fred M,

    Cuomo goes to Church to get the Catholic vote, of course. And, so does Biden et al in Washington, where many of the prominent pro-choice, excommunicated Catholics receive Communion on a weekly basis. One of my friends has a daughter who is a Catholic and an aide in Washington. She has seen Pelosi, Biden, and others receive Communion there. As a young person, she is scandalized. Why, why doesn’t Rome do something about all of this, and in other countries as well? This must stop for the sake of all of us.

  25. irishgirl says:

    Wayne NYC-I agree! Will there be any Faith in Albany and Rochester after Hubbard and Clark retire?
    I’m ashamed of being an UPSTATE NEW YORKER too.
    Kerry-AMEN to what you said!
    Fleeb-a second AMEN to your post, too!
    I couldn’t stand Cuomo Senior when he was governor–too arrogant. And his son is the same thing.
    I greatly fear he will legalize homosexual so-called ‘marriage’ in New York. Mustn’t disappoint the gay lobby in NYC….he doesn’t give a rat’s behind about Upstate New York, anyway.
    OK, end of rant….sigh….
    Sts. Isaac Jogues, Rene Goupil, and Jean Lalande, pray for us.

  26. bookworm says:

    I’m betting (thankfully) that we will NOT see this scene repeated at the Cathedral in Springfield, Illinois this weekend…

    Our governor, Pat Quinn, is a pro-abort and pro-gay-marriage Catholic, and is to be inaugurated for a full 4-year term next week. However, our Bishop, Thomas J. Paprocki, has already publicly called him out at least once for actions contrary to the faith (see Fr. Z’s Dec. 2 post).

    In 2005, when he was still a Chicago auxiliary, Bp. Paprocki offered a Mass in memory of Pope John Paul II which then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich (who is Serbian Orthodox) attended. Gov. Blago had recently issued an executive order/rule compelling pharmacists to dispense abortafacient emergency contraceptives regardless of their moral convictions; and the Bishop took advantage of the occasion to publically ask him to rescind the order!

    Needless to say, I doubt very much that we will see him deliver any kind of “rah-rah inaugurational homily” praising Quinn’s disastrous policies (not just social policies, but also fiscal policies which threaten to drive the state into Greek-style default) as an example of evangelization!

    “Will there be any Faith left in Albany and Rochester after Hubbard and Clark retire?”

    Well, 15 years ago you could have posed the same question here — “Will there be any faith left in Springfield after (Bp. Daniel) Ryan retires?” (Google his name if you care to find out why.) As you can see, the tide has definitely turned in favor of orthodoxy here, though much remains to be done. So, hang in there!

  27. bookworm says:

    Speaking of “hang in there”…

    I have good news of great joy to report for Catholics in upstate New York if it pans out…

    Thomas Peters, the American Papist, reports on his blog that Bp. Joseph Perry, another Chicago auxiliary, will be named to replace Bp. Clark in Rochester, possibly as early as TOMORROW:

    Bp. Perry was also “mentioned” (briefly) for Springfield before Paprocki’s appointment, and they are VERY similar in their orthodoxy, their commitment to pro-life, and their love for the Latin liturgy! Yes, something good CAN come from Chicago :-)

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