NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- According to church canon, is New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo eligible to receive communion?
In an email interview with CNSNews.com Monday, Dr. Peters argued the Roman Catholic governor should refrain from receiving communion, and he should be denied the sacrament, given that he lives with his girlfriend, Food Network hostess Sandra Lee.
Dr. Peters cites canon 915 from the Church's Code of Canon Law, which says people "who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion," and contends that Cuomo's living with Lee, despite not being married, meets the requirements of this law.
"The governor, with complete freedom, is publicly acting in violation of a fundamental moral expectation of the Church. On these facts alone, his taking holy communion is objectively sacrilegious and produces grave scandal within the faith community," Dr. Peters wrote.
The governor refused to address the issue Wednesday, reports CBS 2's Don Dahler. During an appearance regarding the budget proposal at St. Joseph's College in Patchogue, Cuomo said, "I choose to keep my religion and my religious practices private, and not discuss it in the political arena."
Aside from cohabitation with his girlfriend, Dr. Peters argued that another of Cuomo's actions should disqualify him from eligibility: support of abortion.
"Does Gov. Andrew Cuomo's public policy of supporting abortion and passage of the Reproductive Rights Act constitute -- in the objective order – 'persevering in manifest grave sin' and should Cuomo therefore not 'not be admitted to holy communion'?" CNSNews.com asked Dr. Peters.
"I would want experts on New York law and politics to verify a few facts here, but based on what is widely reported about the governor's consistent support for abortionism in New York, I see no other way to interpret his abortion-related conduct except as sufficient to warrant withholding of holy communion from him under Canon 915," Dr. Peters said.
The diocese in Albany, where Cuomo recently received communion, released the following statement: "There are norms of the church governing the sacraments which Catholics are expected to observe. However, it is unfair and imprudent to make a pastoral judgment about a particular situation without knowing all the facts. As a matter of pastoral practice we would not comment publicly on anything which should be addressed privately, regardless if the person is a public figure or a private citizen."
Many of the faithful at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Wednesday said it was a non-issue.
"I think he should be allowed to take communion, absolutely," Mary Jean O'Brien of the Upper West Side told CBS 2's Dahler.
"I just think the Catholic Church needs a lot of changes. A little of our beliefs are outdated and I just think we have to move with the times," another woman said.
The website which posted the comments has also been critical of abortion rights and same-sex marriage. The professor might have found the message of Wednesday's mass ironic.
"And so Jesus was easily ready to embrace the people that the scribes and the pharisees condemned," Reverend Msgr. Robert Richie said.
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