Andrew Cuomo

Background for journalists: Will the Catholic church excommunicate Cuomo over abortion law?

Background for journalists: Will the Catholic church excommunicate Cuomo over abortion law?

Politics and religion have come into conflict once again after Roman Catholic conservatives called for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be excommunicated, splitting the church’s hierarchy on how to deal with politicians who further an agenda contrary to the Vatican’s teachings.

The call came after Cuomo signed into state law a measure that expanded abortion rights across the state. After passing the Senate, a chamber newly-controlled by Democrats after this past November’s elections, on Jan. 22, Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act. The law codifies the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling to allow abortion in the event the Supreme Court were to overturn it in the future – something Democrats fear could occur in the next few years.

The law takes the Supreme Court ruling to new levels. It allows an abortion to take place up to the day of birth. The law also says that if a baby survives an abortion, a doctor is not required to save the baby’s life. In addition, a doctor’s assistant can perform a surgical abortions.

Within hours of its signing, Cuomo, also a Democrat, ordered that One World Trade Center be lit in pink in celebration. Anti-aboriton advocates across the country were swift in their condemnation. New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan — along with the Catholic bishops across the state — signed a letter condemning the bill, adding that “our beloved state has become a more dangerous one for women and their unborn babies.”

Days later, he backed off the excommunication word (Cuomo is a Catholic who is divorced and lives with his longtime girlfriend), while many voices on the right called the new law “infanticide.”

Dolan joined the excommunication fray, saying a week later during an appearance on Fox News Channel that such a move “would be counterproductive.”

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Big news on New York's child sexual abuse law -- buried in 22nd paragraph of Gray Lady's story

Big news on New York's child sexual abuse law -- buried in 22nd paragraph of Gray Lady's story

There is an important story — a change many years in the making — found in the reporting way down under this recent headline in The New York Times: “They Were Sexually Abused Long Ago as Children. Now They Can Sue in N.Y.”

As often happens with headlines, there’s a world of content hidden in that undefined pronoun — “they.” Who is included in that “they”?

Now hear me say this. There are crucial facts are in this Times report. Readers just have to dig way, way down into the body of the story to find them.

But let’s start with this question: If legislators in New York have been struggling for years to pass the Child Victims Act, why did it suddenly pass with next to zero opposition? Also, in the final stages of this legal war, who were the final opponents to this bill and why, in the end, did some of them change their minds?

The answer is there — way down in the 22nd paragraph.

Let’s start with the overture:

ALBANY — For more than a decade, victims of childhood sexual abuse in New York have asked lawmakers here for the chance to seek justice — only to be blocked by powerful interests including insurance companies, private schools and leaders from the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish communities.

Boo Catholics and private schools! So what changed? Keep reading.

As activists and Democratic officials pushed to strengthen protections for child abuse victims, those opposing interests — wealthy and closely tied to members of the then Republican-controlled State Senate — warned that permitting victims to revive decades-old claims could lead churches, schools and community organizations into bankruptcy. For 13 years, the so-called Child Victims Act foundered.

But in November, Democrats won control of the Senate. And on Monday, both the Senate and Assembly overwhelmingly approved the Child Victims Act, ending a bitter, protracted battle with some of the most powerful groups in the state. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has promised to sign the bill into law.

Every senator, Republican and Democrat, voted for the bill — even though it never even came to the Senate floor for a vote under the Republican majority. The bill passed the Assembly 130-3.

So what changed?

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Can terrorists act in the name of religion, or do they follow ‘political’ ideologies, alone?

Can terrorists act in the name of religion, or do they follow ‘political’ ideologies, alone?

Throughout the era defined by 9/11, most journalists in the West have struggled to follow two basic concepts while doing their work.

The first concept is, of course: Islam is a religion of peace

The second would, in most cases, be stated something like this: There is no one Islam. The point is to stress the perfectly obvious, and accurate, fact that Islam is not a monolith. Islam in Saudi Arabia is quite different from the faith found in Iran. Islam in Indonesia is quite different from the faith found in Pakistan. There are competing visions of Islam in lands such as Egypt, Turkey and Afghanistan.

The problem with these two concepts is that they clash. Note that Islam, singular, is a religion of peace. But which Islam is that, since there is no one Islam? In the end, many journalists appear to have decided that wise people in the White House or some other center of Western intellectual life get to decide which Islam is the true Islam. The fact that millions of Muslims, of various kinds, find that condescending (or worse) is beside the point.

At times, it appears that the true Islam is a religion and the false Islam is a political ideology. When one looks at history, of course, Muslims see a truly Islamic culture as one unified whole. There is, simply stated, no separation of mosque and state in a majority Muslim culture. The mosque is at the center of all life.

You can see all of these ideas lurking in the background when American politicos argue about what is, and what is not, “terrorism.” As the old saying goes, one man’s “freedom fighter” is another man’s “terrorist.”

As it turns out, the word “terrorism” has a very specific meaning for Western elites. Is the same definition accepted among the minority of Muslims who have adopted a radicalized version of Islam?

Here is what the conflict looks like in practice, in a St. Cloud Times story about that attack the other day in a Minnesota shopping mall. Readers are told that St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson:

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