By NIRAJ WARIKOO -
A senior adviser to the Vatican, who is a theology professor in Detroit, blasted the Catholic governor of New York for his strong backing of same-sex marriage, saying that he should be punished for his "brazen" violation of Catholicism by being denied Holy Communion — a key part of the Catholic faith.
He's also calling for the Catholic Church to investigate Gov. Andrew Cuomo for violating church law, calling the politician's actions a "danger" to faithful Catholics.
Professor Edward Peters of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, a consultant to the Vatican's highest court, hopes that punishing Cuomo would "serve as an example" to other Catholic politicians and clergy across the U.S. who might be considering same-sex marriage in light of New York's approval on Friday.
"I see no way, absent a public reversal of his public conduct, that Andrew Cuomo may present himself for holy Communion," Peters wrote Sunday on his blog. And, "I see no way that a minister of holy Communion may administer the sacrament to him."
Peters, an expert on canon law, confirmed his remarks with the Free Press today. He said New York bishops should make clear publicly that Cuomo can't receive Communion because of the "danger of scandal presented to the faithful."
Peters was named last year by Pope Benedict XVI to be an adviser to the Vatican's highest judicial authority, known as Apostolic Signatura. He is not an official spokesman for the Pope, but his views are heard at high levels in the Church.
This is not the first time Peters has slammed Cuomo for violating Catholic teachings. Earlier this year, Peters said that Cuomo, who lives out of marriage with his girlfriend, Food Network celebrity Sandra Lee, should be denied Holy Communion for what he called "public concubinage."
"I am already on record as believing Cuomo ineligible for Holy Communion on the basis of his improper living arrangements with a television celebrity," Peters said.
"But in almost every relevant way, Cuomo’s protracted actions in regard to 'gay marriage' are even more brazen."
Holy Communion, also known as the Eucharist, refers to the wafers and wine that many Catholics consume during Mass that they believe are the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is considered an essential part of the Catholic faith.
Cuomo pushed hard to get a bill passed that would make same-sex marriage legal in New York. The state is considered by some to be the birthplace of the gay rights movement in the U.S. because of 1969 rebellions against police at Stonewall, a gay bar in New York City. Cuomo framed the issue in progressive terms, comparing it to past labor and environmental struggles. New York will soon be the largest state in the U.S. to allow same-sex marriage.
But Catholic leaders in New York had pushed back against the bill, comparing it to Communist rule. Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan wrote that "God not Albany, has settled the definition of marriage a long time ago."
The marriage of "one man, one woman, united ... has served as the very cornerstone of civilization and culture from the start," Dolan said.
"Last time I consulted an atlas, it is clear we are living in New York, in the United States of America — not in China or North Korea."
But others pointed to polls that show Catholics increasingly favor same-sex marriage. A 2010 Pew Research Center survey showed Catholics in America are more likely than not (46% to 42%) to support gay marriage. Support increases among younger generations, with 58% of Catholics 18 to 49 supporting same-sex marriage, the survey said.
But, Peters said, Catholic doctrine is clear on this issue. And Cuomo should also be investigated for his support, he said.
A spokesman for the governor could not be immediately reached today.
What punishment could Cuomo face in addition to being denied Holy Communion?
It depends, Peters said. But one possible punishment, he said, could involve a public retraction along with "some form of public, religiously oriented, action of reparation such as direct service to the poor," Peters told the Free Press
At worst, Cuomo could be excommunicated, but that would be unlikely, Peters said.