Gov. Cuomo talks to Maureen Dowd. What could go wrong? Dr. Peters explains.

The Canonical Defender, Ed Peters, has another post about NY State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, aggressive promoter of contrary-to-nature unions.  Cuomo is, he claims, catholic.

Dr. Peters doesn’t have an open combox on his excellent blog In The Light of the Law.  So do go over there and spike his stats and look at his archive of excellent entries.

Today’s episode has a surreal tinge to it.  I am trying to get my head around the idea that Gov. Cuomo can have a picture of St. Thomas More in his office and nevertheless still do what he does, from open public concubinage to the promotion of contrary-to-nature sex to the insistence on receiving Holy Communion publicly.   The dissonance of these elements calls to mind a Salvador Dali landscape, where clocks melt on the edges of tables.

Take it away Dr. Peters…. with my emphases and comments.

A note on Gov. Cuomo’s devotion to St. Thomas More

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, per this interview with Maureen Dowd, [The nutty Id of the Washington Beltway… and now Albany as well.] keeps a portrait of St. Thomas More (which had once belonged to his father Mario) in his Albany office. I am glad to hear it, for St. Thomas, I am sure, intercedes especially for Catholics in high political office. Any Catholic in political life today needs St. Thomas More’s prayers.

Cuomo, we read, has “shrugged off the shrill complaint [I read Dr. Peters’ notes about Cuomo.  Nothing shrill there.  I think the “shrill” came from the speaker’s own guilty conscience.] of Vatican adviser Edward Peters that he’s living in ‘public concubinage’ with his girlfriend in their Westchester home” adding that “[Peters] was a blogger, not from my state. [What difference does that make?] I didn’t want to give it too much credibility.’ [Right.  Don’t bother Cuomo with the facts.] As for whether Lee was hurt by the crude, archaic term, [Cuomo] conceded, ‘It was not a pleasant conversation for anyone.’”

No, I don’t imagine it was.

As a devotee of St. Thomas More, doubtless Cuomo has seen the great film, A Man for All Seasons (1966). It’s required viewing around here every June 22. I and some friends have most of the dialogue memorized. There is a famous exchange in Man for All Seasons between Sir Thomas More and his would-be son-in-law William Roper.

More plainly calls Roper a heretic.

“That’s not a word I like, Sir Thomas!” retorts Roper.

It’s not a likeable word,” replies More, “It’s not a likeable thing.”

Seems to me, the same observation would apply to the dislikable word “concubinage”, no?

The real problem was then, and is now, not the correct use of an accurate word, but one’s participation in the identified activity. And the real solution is not to stop calling things by their names, but to correct the behavior. No?

WDTPRS KUDOS to Dr. Peters… Canonical Defender!

If you don’t own the DVD of A Man For All Seasons, click here now.

So, Gov. Cuomo doesn’t like the word “concubinage”.  It is “crude… archaic”.  What he really doesn’t like is the meaning of the word.  Words, however, do have meanings.

Except perhaps “marriage”.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in 1983 CIC can. 915, Biased Media Coverage, Fr. Z KUDOS, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, The Drill, Throwing a Nutty and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. shin says:

    There are many not very likable things called by likable names nowadays aren’t there?

    There are reasons for this. If I say the word ‘conspiracy’ does that immediately discredit that in fact precisely why in many cases the new names are used? Some people don’t like that word too much and dismiss when they hear it.

    There are reasons why we react to certain words in certain ways. And we often don’t understand why fundamentally we do, though we think in fact we do.

  2. jasoncpetty says:

    For a second I got confused and thought I was reading Mo Dowd saying she had memorized most of the scenes from A Man for All Seasons and watched it every June. I was like, ‘no wonder Fr. Z thinks this is surreal.’

  3. Elizabeth D says:

    I think “concubinage” is a word possibly worth using more often. I think it emphasizes the truth that the situation is contrary to the dignity and best interests of the woman. Frequently the situation is actually that the woman wants to marry but the man is content with having her as his concubine. There ought to be apostolates to help women or men to break free from the situation of concubinage and give them guidance for making better choices, this is often a genuine need since some who want to get free can’t readily afford to do so or it would mean becoming homeless.

    The debate some couples have about whether to get married or live together sounds somewhat different when framed as marriage vs concubinage. The latter is also a better description, since this does not mean simply being roommates.

  4. newyork says:

    The Dowd column includes this from Cuomo: “It’s not the first time there is a tension between the teachings of the church and the administration of the law, for my father and for myself.” Dryly, he adds: “I haven’t lost my head yet.”

    He is at no risk of losing his head since he has not once evidenced even a hint of willingness to emulate St. Thomas More in standing for the teachings of the Church against the powers of the world. Does he even know how bizarre he sounds?

  5. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Check this bizarre quote from Dowd’s interview with Cuomo the Moloch-Worshipper:

    “My father was against the death penalty, and that was hard in the Son of Sam summer when fear was driving the desire for the death penalty. You can see a line of continuity from the death penalty to choice to marriage equality. You could argue there’s a 30-year span of the pressing social, moral and legal issues of the day.”

    What line of continuity is he talking about? How are anti-death penalty, abortion rights, and same-sex “marriage” views related, as if one subscribes to one view, he logically has to subscribe to the others?

    Man’s twisted. And Thomas More looking down at him every day? For shame.

  6. AnAmericanMother says:

    To use another unlikeable, crude and archaic term . . . Cuomo needs to make an honest woman of her. And Lee needs to get honest with herself, she is a concubine whether she likes it, or the word, or not.

    As my dear old dad says, if a guy can get the milk for free, why buy the cow?

  7. Actually, it would be more fitting if he had a picture of Richard Rich in his office.

  8. digdigby says:

    Governor Cuomo may have his faults as a Catholic but he has made tremendous highway improvements in NY: easy access, plenty of lanes and smooth drivin’ the whole way.

  9. rollingrj says:

    Digdigby, may I assume these highway improvement are that one way road mentioned in the post underneath this one? Hopefully there are some off-ramps as well.

  10. Fr. Z, I much appreciate your continually kind words, and your witness in these travails. Oremus pro invicem.

  11. Stu says:

    Cuomo is stepping into the deep end of the pool in trying to go at it with Dr. Peters. I don’t think he can swim.

  12. Jack Hughes says:

    But for New york Andrew?

  13. S. Murphy says:

    Stu – he doesn’t know he can’t swim: he thinks he’s walking on water.

  14. priests wife says:

    grrrrr…Gov. C using St Thomas More is like the wymyn ‘priest’ movement using St Mary Magdalene- lay off my favorite saints, please!

  15. S. Murphy says:

    @ priests_wife: Yeah! I totally concur.

  16. avecrux says:

    People don’t like when you say “sodomy” either… again, its not correct usage of an appropriate word that is the problem.

  17. Margaret Collins says:

    In France, as far as I am aware, Concubinage remains an official term to describe cohabitation!

  18. AnAmericanMother says:

    It is also still a legal term in use here — especially in Louisiana, which is a Code Law state in a sea of Common Law. Of course, Louisiana’s Code system is based on the Code Napoléon, so that’s no big surprise.

  19. Martial Artist says:

    Yes, indeed, Father, words do have meanings. Meanings express ideas. And, more often than not, ideas have consequences. Which goes a long way toward explaining why flawed human beings (all of us, I fear) have a considerable tendency to want to speak of our sins in terms of euphemisms—in order to evade the conscious necessity to face reality.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  20. MissOH says:

    Shrill is interesting since every post of Mr. Peters reads like the writings of the attorney that he is- measured, logical, precise.

    I still find it interesting that often those who mentioned Jesus’ love as justification of all manner of behavior never mention the parts of the Gospels where he challenges us sinners to “go and sin no more”.

  21. terryprest says:

    “I am trying to get my head around the idea that Gov. Cuomo can have a picture of St. Thomas More in his office and nevertheless still do what he does, from open public concubinage to the promotion of contrary-to-nature sex to the insistence on receiving Holy Communion publicly. The dissonance of these elements calls to mind a Salvador Dali landscape, where clocks melt on the edges of tables”

    I`m sorry but this will probably not go down well. But perhaps Miss Dowd can assist. Perhaps she too is rather puzzled by the Governor.

    In the article she wrote:

    “Back when he was a young strategist for his dad, Andrew Cuomo attracted adjectives like arrogant, ruthless, intimidating and manipulative….Andrew Cuomo is still a master schemer and relentless phoner…. For the moment, and it may only be a moment given all the thorny issues he has coming up, he is in that imaginary place his idol Sir Thomas More invented: utopia. …

    Cuomo, who now has a huge and excited base of millions of volunteers, activists and donors across the country, can press a button and raise millions.

    And that, of course, has led to talk of 2016, when he could face his neighbor Chris Christie, who says he is not a fan of the gay marriage legislation, and even Michele Bachmann, who reacted to the joy in New York by saying she wants a Constitutional amendment protecting marriage.”

    I understand that the word “Utopia” has two meanings: good place or no place.

  22. benedetta says:

    This is the follow up to “The Starchbishop”? We’ve been robbed! Ah well, to the victor goeth the spoils.

  23. Rich says:

    As if we are supposed to feel some sympathy for Cuomo who may really just be a bit confused or struggling with his faith, after all…he keeps a portrait of St. Thomas More!

  24. jsing says:

    Has anyone noticed that Mister Cuomo is for marriage for gays but not for traditional marriage for himself and his girlfriend?

  25. stgemma_0411 says:

    I am not at all pleased in the way that the U.S. has embraced a deconstructionist nature, as it pertains to what are the rights of its citizens. I hope and pray that we can return to a more rational understanding of things and turn away from the chaos that is being created in which one of the many problems will be that people will no longer know how to communicate with one another because the meaning of the words will have gone missing. We are not far away from this, as we have already seen a collapse in logical reasoning. Amazing to think how quickly things can change that went relatively unchanged for 1500+ years

  26. Captain Peabody says:

    Cognitive dissonance doesn’t begin to describe it. This is Star-Trek-episode-level weirdness. This is like if Khan kept a portrait of Ayelborne the Organian on his wall.

    The kind of inane self-flattery enjoyed by Cuomo could not be more diametrically opposed to Thomas More’s blunt regard for the Truth above else. More had little use for such self-serving private interpretations of Revelation:

    “And if God list not to make Tyndale an answer and tell him all this gear; then will he like a spiritual man set all such bodily ceremonies and sacraments at nought; and say God what he will, Tyndale will gloss his text as it please him, and then believe as he list who shall let him.”

    And of course, More had quite a bit to say to powerful men who believed their powers and their consciences secure from any authority:

    “[That] man whom so many men dread and fear, so many wait upon, he shall be within a few years, and only God knoweth within how few days, when death arresteth him, have his dainty body turned into stinking carrion, be borne out of his princely palace, laid in the ground and there left alone, where every lewd lad will be bold to tread upon his head.”

    And of course, the bitterest irony of all is that More of course died in large part due to his regard for the Holy Sacrament of Marriage, and for his refusal to support his Sovereigns attempt to redefine Marriage to suit his own purposes; his refusal, in other words, to support with flattering words the public concubinage of his King:
    “Howbeit it is not for this supremacy so much that ye seek my blood, as for that I would not condescend to the marriage.”

    In such cases, there is little else to say besides the words of More himself to the heretics and schismatics of his own day:

    “I can no more I, but pray God amend him, and make him a good man.”

    St. Thomas More, pray for him, and us.

  27. mamosco says:

    the quote of More to Card. Wolsey from A Man for All Seasons is also very appropriate:

    I think that when statesmen forsake
    their own private conscience..

    …for the sake of their public duties…

    …they lead their country
    by a short route to chaos.

    P.S. Bravo to Fr Thompson re: Richard Rich —I laughed out loud!!

  28. Gladiatrix says:

    Thomas More was a thoroughly unpleasant man.

    He used the most disgusting and abusive language both to and about people with whom he disagreed, it was really foul-mouthed and evil minded stuff – even by the standards of the day.

    He only married his second wife because he couldn’t cope with celibacy, and would speak in Latin or Greek at the dinner table in order deliberately to exclude her from the conversation and humiliate her publicly. Anyone for misogyny?

    Then of course there is his bigoted pursuit of Tyndale, even from prison, which ultimately led to Tyndale’s murder. That he couldn’t see the hypocrisy in pursuing Tyndale for expressing his own beliefs, when More was in prison for defending his is just jaw-dropping.

    In many ways More was author of his own misfortune and reaped the harvest that he had sown.

    Cuomo would be well advised to put something else on his wall.

    Bitter Fruit Award

  29. Gladiatrix: Not all saints were warm and friendly to everyone. They were often stern with heretics. Also, in ages past there were different standards of public discourse.

    However, you had better back up your statement that St. Thomas More was “foul-mouthed and evil minded”.

    I think it is “foul-mouthed and evil minded” publicly to besmirch the name of a saint and cause scandal.

    It is not a bad thing to marry if you can’t cope with celibacy. St. Paul recommends this, as a matter of fact.

    It could be that St. Thomas spoke Latin and Greek at the table for the edification of his children, which is praiseworthy. The word “misogyny” is mere slander.

    St. Thomas More read Tyndale’s works, determined that they were heretical and dangerous for the good order of society – and he was right, by the way – and then wrote a long refutation of Tyndale’s thought. Writing a book is not exactly persecution. If you think Tyndale was mistreated, complain to the Belgians. He died in Belgium, not England.

    Of course St. Thomas was the author of his own misfortune. So are we all, for we are all sinners. But his misfortunes are so-called in worldly terms only. He now, the Church assures us, is merry and enjoying the Beatific Vision.

    The readers will be happy to accept your apology, but your comments will have to go into a queue.

  30. benedetta says:

    I am not saying that Miss Dowd is a poor writer or anything and clearly her reputation for Snark Attack is such that the little commenter people should live in quaking fear lest she unleash the furies on little ignorant types such as ourselves. Yet I fail to see any significance whatsoever in Governor Cuomo’s ownership of a picture of Saint Thomas More. The inclusion of the detail seems meaningless except for the fact that as ever she despises Catholics. I expect in future with that publication’s pay per view service stories will start along these lines “Attention workers: Now hear this!”

  31. benedetta says:

    Would only add that it is quite common for fallen away Catholics of a certain age to hold on to items given to them by parents at confirmation or graduation such as pictures, Bibles, prayer books, rosaries, religious articles, crucifix.

    Perhaps he keeps this image on hand as a talisman and reminder to himself that if he does not do what the secular state demands he will be politically executed by that same state. That he would rather stay politically alive than publicly say something supportive of that Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Pope, of Christian Unity.

  32. Captain Peabody says:

    Gladiatrix’s attacks on More are pretty standard ones for people who know very little about the man, usually enough to fill a single ‘Net page of denunciation. However, for the most part they’re based simply on half-truths, distortions, and flat-out falsehoods.

    Thomas More could indeed have a rather sharp tongue when he deemed events warranted it, though when engaged in intellectual debates and inquiries he was a very fair-minded and even-handed thinker and debater.

    Such scurrilous characterizations of him as a “foul-mouthed and evil” man are for the most part unconsidered generalizations from his works of popular polemics, most notably the one written in response to Luther’s popular polemic against Henry VIII’s Assertio Septem Sacramentorum, select passages of which are often quoted by people seeking to deface the Saint’s good name.

    But it must first be understood this the writing of this document was a task set to him by the government and the King itself in response to Luther’s own attacks on Henry–which mostly consisted of insults so base and effusive that it was considered that for the King himself to respond to them would be unthinkable– for which More was expected very much to respond in kind in a polemical and populist fashion. That he did so–including often turning around Luther’s own terms of abuse back onto Luther himself–is not really in question, though the document is both written under a pseudonym, and contain within itself an apology for the necessity of responding in kind to Luther’s heresy and his blatant insults against the King’s dignity:

    “In your sense of fairness, honest reader, you will forgive me that the utterly filthy words of this scoundrel have forced me to answer such things, for which I should have begged your leave. Now I consider truer than truth that saying: ‘He who touches pitch will be wholly defiled by it’ (Sirach 13:1). For I am ashamed even of this necessity, that while I clean out the fellow’s shit-filled mouth I see my own fingers covered with shit.”

    To the extent this shows anything about More’s character, it shows that he was both duty-minded and extremely zealous in defending the dignity of his sovereign and his Church.

    And of course, More is also the author of a number of other popular tracts against the Protestants of his own day, a task set to him by the Bishops of England (who were worried about the great number of Protestant tracts spreading throughout England and the continent unopposed); these tracts are as we would expect much less abusive than the response to Luther, containing a great deal of valuable insights and forceful arguments against the Reformer’s doctrines and attack on the institutional Church. In the course of these duties, a very long and utterly fascinating exchange took place between More and Tyndale, each of which responded to and attempted to refute the other in tracts on multiple occasions; many have considered this exchange to be perhaps the seminal intellectual conflict of the English Reformation.

    Certainly, in these tracts, More is quite harsh in condemning and refuting the heresies of Tyndale and the other reformers, and the books are, of course, popular tracts meant for popular consumption and written mostly late at night at the expense of sleep (the only time that More was able to find apart from his duties as lawyer and statesmen).

    But to the extent one gets an image of More in these tracts, it is of someone deeply committed to the Church and its doctrines and deeply offended by the harsh, often obscene attacks of the Reformers on them. His arguments are for the most part sound and his defense of the Church of his own day is deeply sincere and heartfelt.

    So I suppose if one considers the able refutation and condemnation of heresies in a populist form at the behest of one’s Bishops to make one a cruel and evil man, then the cause is just. If not…well, then one would do well to read More’s own devotional and theological literature, in which the man is anything but “foul-mouthed and evil.”

    As for the slanders against his family conduct, these are for the most part baseless. More spent his young adulthood trying in a truly prayerful and devoted way to discern his proper vocation; to this end, he strongly considered the priesthood, and also spent a great deal of his time living according to the code of the Carthusian monks. In the end, however, More found that he could not dismiss from himself a strong desire for the married state, and thus concluded after a great deal of prayer and study that “It was better to be a good husband than a bad priest.” In this, it is hard to find anything at all blame-worthy in the least; and if attackers doubt this, then they should try living according to the Carthusian code for an extended period of time and see how well they do.

    However, More’s first wife–whom he loved and cherished greatly–died very young, leaving More with many young children to care for. Considering their need for a mother to look after them, More remarried very shortly after his wife’s death to a much older widow who had already raised children of her own. The idea that this was somehow a selfish act of marrying a trophy wife because he could not ‘do without’ is such an absurd mischaracterization that it barely requires refutation.

    More and his second wife had what might be considered incompatible personalities, to say the least; however, largely as a result of this, they had a very playful, jest-filled, and tempestuous relationship in a manner it is almost impossible to describe in a few words. But that they grew to deeply love each other is quite beyond doubt. Each gave as good as they got, and each enjoyed the other immensely.

    But the characterization of More as “mysoginist” and the tying into this (of all things) to him speaking Greek and Latin at the dinner table is a blatant falseood. More was in fact most notable in his day for the deep love and respect for the dignity of women present in all his writings and for his strong and unshakeable belief in the equal rational faculties of women and thus the primary duty to educate them in the same manner as men. More was the father of many daughters, all of whom he loved deeply and educated rigorously and strongly in the same fashion as he did his sons. By the time of his death, his daughters were among the most educated women in the whole of Europe, and more educated than most men as well. That part of this education consisted of More speaking in Greek and Latin at the dinner table for the benefit of his children (all his children, not just his sons) is hardly evidence of misogny; in fact, it is the opposite. His second wife, who was a widow and an older and extremely stubborn woman, was not in the least educatable; but nevertheless, though she was not able to take part in this aspect of the More household, Mrs. More was a strong and effusive woman who ruled her household and her children with an iron fist and was anything but a solitary outsider in the life of the house.

    As to More’s “persecution” of Tyndale, the fact that More, as Lord Chancellor of England, had a duty to prosecute criminals within his domain, including those guilty of the capital crime of heresy, is hardly a mark against him. More himself saw no contradiction between dying for the inviolability of the true Faith and seeking to stop others from attacking, violating, and subverting that same Faith; if we as Moderns do, then at least we can acknowledge that our opinion is by no means universal throughout history. Certainly, though, More was most zealous of all for the conversion by argument and prayer those who had made themselves heretics, not for their destruction, and he showed this love for the persons of heretics in many, many ways.

    One must always try to understand a man, even a Saint. This was that monumental task to which More set himself; that great task of defending his beloved Church against numerous, often anonymous attacks against her sanctity, her honor, and her faith. He loved that Church more than he loved life itself, and believed in her more strongly than he believed in anything else; and he was thus justly and understandably angry with those men who in tract after tract and speech after speech denounced her as the Whore of Babylon, called her clergy serpents, her Sacraments falsehoods, her Bishops tyrants, her churches heathen temples, her faithful foolish dupes, her theologians heretics, and her Pope Anti-Christ. And furthermore, he knew that what he himself wrote in opposition to these attacks would determine the fate of souls who could be and were all too easily persuaded by them to abandon the Church which he loved and so in his view pass into eternal peril; he thus had, in his own view, a duty to refute these attacks as plainly and as strongly as possible.

    That in writing such documents, he did not pause to nuance his condemnation of these insults or the men behind them or to point out all the honorable facets of the men calling his mother a whore, may perhaps be called a fault; God knows even Saints are sinners.
    But the idea that they of necessity make him, natch, a “foul-mouthed and evil” man for whom sanctity must be impossible, must ultimately be regarded, just as the attacks on the Church in More’s day, to be a blatant falsehood and a truly “foul-mouthed and evil” insult.

  33. St. Thomas “foul mouthed”? Well, he certainly has a short and caustic tongue. I remember opening a volume of his letters and finding this phrase in a letter to Erasmus: “Well to hell with Aristotle, the God of the Thomists.” Nice phrasing, even if I don’t agree. Those who think there little theological world is the only true one are on the way to Hell. St. Thomas knew where there lines were drawn.

    And thanks to Mamosco for the kind word. I suggest that readers print out an image of Richard Rich (e.g., frame it, and mail it to his excellency the governor . . .

  34. While we’re on the subject of my patron saint’s alleged crimes, wasn’t Tyndale executed by the Emperor at the instigation of Henry VIII, because of Tyndale’s opposition to Henry’s marriage to Ann Boleyn? And didn’t Henry VIII himself strive might and main to stamp out Tyndale’s Bible, even after his break from the Church?

    As for the picture of St. Thomas on Governor Cuomo’s wall, I am sorry that he continues to identify himself publicly as a Catholic while living openly and notoriously in concubinage (a nasty word for a nasty practice, but a word that really ought to be revived), supporting abortion and legalizing homosexual “marriage.” We have certainly come a long way from the days of St. John Chrysostom, who declared that heretics ought to be smitten across the face and made to fear ever ventilating their errors in public, lest a faithful Catholic hear them and deal with them accordingly.

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