The moral depravity of Andrew Cuomo & Friends

George Weigel

Writing recently on women seeking the presidency and the “likability” factor in our politics, Peggy Noonan made a tart observation: “There are a lot of male candidates with likability problems. Some, such as Andrew Cuomo, a three-term governor of a large state, are so unlikable they aren’t even mentioned as contenders.”

Without contesting Miss Noonan’s point, I’d like to offer an addendum: Andrew Cuomo is too morally depraved to be the President of the United States — or the Governor of New York, for that matter.

Of all the obscenities surrounding Governor Cuomo’s January 22 signing of a bill whose title (“The Reproductive Health Act”) would make George Orwell gag, the most cringe-inducing was the signing ceremony itself. You can watch it on YouTube, if you’ve the stomach for it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43VhkcIO5Gw. The ceremony is replete with the self-congratulatory political blather to which many of us have become inured. What is truly sickening is the unholy glee with which Cuomo signed this sordid bill — a demonic mirth shared by the other miscreants on the platform with him.

Just what are these people celebrating?

The New York RHA declares abortion on demand, at any moment in a pregnancy, up to birth, a fundamental right. A healthy infant born in New York State today could have been legally killed yesterday, according to the RHA. And the killing would not be pretty. For third-trimester abortions involve either poisoning the unborn child or collapsing its skull by the grotesque procedure known as “dilation and extraction”; the mother then gives “birth” to a dead baby who’s been executed in a manner that would revolt anyone with an iota of feeling, were similar violence perpetrated on a dog or cat.

I recently met a young man who was born at 24 weeks of gestation, when he weighed a little over a pound. My young friend was considered a child, a living member of the human community, when he spent months in the neo-natal intensive care unit of his local hospital. The New York RHA permits children of the exact same gestational age to be surgically chopped up in the womb (“dilation and curettage”) — and its sponsors imagine this legal license to dismember a helpless human being while inflicting excruciating pain to be a civilizational advance, rather than the reversion to barbarism it is.

The gory-body-parts school of pro-life activism has never appealed to me, because women caught in the dilemma of unplanned pregnancy are looking for friends who will offer them compassion and assistance, not force them to watch the obstetrical equivalent of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. But the unprecedented nature of the New York RHA demands that Andrew Cuomo & Friends be confronted with the reality of what they wrought and what they celebrate — which is the legal butchery of innocent children.

There are over 3,300 crisis pregnancy centers in the United States. They embody the virtue of solidarity by offering women in crisis the life-affirming care of real medicine, not the death-dealing witchcraft of the abortionist. With humane alternatives readily available, it is ludicrous to claim, as Cuomo & Friends do, that access to abortion up until birth is an imperative of justice. Indeed, any such claim makes a mockery of any rational concept of justice, for the New York RHA legalizes the brutal exercise of raw power over an innocent human life.

Another facet of this awfulness demands attention: Andrew Cuomo, and all pro-“choice” politicians who self-identify as Catholics, bespeak a massive failure of catechesis and Christian formation in the Church in the United States. In the face of that failure, the people of the Church, ordained and lay, are called to a stringent examination of conscience. When bishops fail to declare, in the strongest and clearest terms, that support for immoral bills such as the New York RHA puts the legislator or executive in a gravely impaired position within the communion of the Church, their dereliction of duty compounds that catechetical failure.  When lay Catholics dodge the abortion issue in conversation because it’s too uncomfortable or might make them look “conservative” or “anti-feminist,” they betray the Gospel and amplify the catechetical failures of the past and present.

Moral depravity stalks the land. Calling it such is deemed “extremist” by United States senators. We all have work to do. And we all must summon the courage to do it.

COMING UP: Thomas Fitzsimons: The unsung Catholic Founding Father 

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As our nation celebrates the day of its independence and subsequent founding as a country on July 4, a look back some lesser-knowCatholic history of this historic event seems warranted.  

George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin: these are names every American knows. Pull out your wallet and you’ll likely see at least one of their faces on the money you carry aroundAnd while this nation was founded on principles rooted in Christianity, none of these men were Catholic. In fact, of the men history calls the Founding Fathers of America, only two were. 

Many may already be familiar with Founding Father Charles Carroll, a Catholic and signer of the Declaration of Independence, and whose brother John was the first Catholic bishop assigned to what would become the United States. However, Carroll was not the only Catholic who played a role in the founding of our country. The other was Thomas Fitzsimons, a name that is not mentioned much (if at all) in U.S. history classes but deserves to be recognized nonetheless.  

The unwieldy named Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, published in 1887, paints a vivid picture of Fitzsimons and the way his faith informed his character. While the other Founding Fathers were meeting and deliberating about the Declaration of Independence, Fitzsimons joined the Continental Army anfought on the frontlines against the British army. 

Captain Fitzsimons commanded his company of militia until 1778, when France entered the war. British troops withdrew from Pennsylvania and began to focus on the southern states. It was at this time that Fitzsimons became more involved in politics at the state level. In 1782, he became a delegate at the Continental Congress. In 1786, he was elected as a Pennsylvania state legislator and served for three terms until 1789. In 1787, he was selected to represent Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Congress, where the United States Constitution was written and ratified. He, along with Daniel Carroll, were the only two Catholics to sign to Constitution. 

Born in Belfast, Ireland in 1741, not much else is known about Fitzsimons’ family. He had three brothers – Nicholas, Andrew and John – and one sister, Ann. He and his family immigrated to America as early as 1760, where they became residents of Philadelphia. It was here that Fitzsimons would stake his claim as a businessman and politician. 

In 1763, Fitzsimons married Catharine Meade, whose brother, George Meade, would later go into business with Fitzsimons and build one of the most successful commercial trade houses in Philadelphia. Throughout his life, Fitzsimons was in close correspondence with Bishop John Carrollthese letters revealed insights into the Catholic Founding Father’s personal life. In a letter to Bishop Carroll in 1808, Fitzsimons wrote of being married to Catharine for 45 years. Additionally, local baptismal records show that he and Catharine stood as sponsors at the baptisms of three of Meade’s children. 

In 1774, Fitzsimons began his first foray into politics when he was elected as one of 13 Provincial Deputies who were given authority to call a general meeting of the citizens. It is believed he was the first Catholic to have ever held public office in the budding United States. Even so, anti-Catholic bigotry was common at the time and did exist within some of his fellow statesmen, such as John Adams, who once said in an address to the people of Great Britain that the Catholic faith was “a religion that has deluged your island in blood and dispersed impiety, bigotry, persecution, murder and rebellion through every part of the world.” 

Fitzsimons’ first stint in public office was brief, only lasting from May to July, but it was a foreshadowing his future involvement in state affairs. As the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, Fitzsimons formed a company of soldiers to fight against the British army. He was assigned to the Third Battalion under Col. Cadwalader and Lieut. Col. John Nixon, who was the grandson of a Catholic. Behind the scenes, as George Washington and the like organized committees and framed what would become the Declaration of Independence, Fitzsimons ascended to the rank of Captain and continued to serve his country as a soldier and patriot.

In addition to his tenure as a commanding officer and politician, Fitzsimons also found success in other ventures. In 1781, he helped found the Bank of North America, the United States’ first de facto central bank, and served as its director until 1803. The latter years of his life were spent primarily in private business, but he maintained a consistent interest in public affairs; even Fitzsimons wasn’t exempt from the old adage, “once a politician, always a politician.” 

Through all of these endeavors, and even after befalling troubled financial times in the early 1800s, Fitzsimons remained a diligent philanthropist. He gave immense support to St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia and was invested in the improvement of public education in the commonwealth. As one of his contemporaries wrote after his death in 1811, “he died in the esteem, affection and gratitude of all classes of his fellow citizens.” 

Fitzsimons was buried in the graveyard of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia, which is now part of Independence National Historical Park. His name may not be a household one like Washington or Jefferson, but Fitzsimons can be remembered as something of an unsung Founding Father of the United Statesa man whose life of quiet faith, humble service and admirable patriotism exemplifies the values that this country was founded upon in a simple yet profound way.