That’s the determination of the bishop who oversees New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s diocese. Controversy erupted last month, when a canon lawyer declared that Cuomo should be denied communion because the divorced governor lives with his girlfriend.
One of New York State’s leading Roman Catholic bishops said on Tuesday that it was not appropriate for church officials to comment on whether specific elected officials should be allowed to receive holy communion.
Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, the leader of the Albany diocese and a member of the executive committee of the New York State Catholic Conference, made his comments at a news conference after meeting with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at the Executive Mansion to discuss the state budget, same-sex marriage and other issues.
Mr. Cuomo was criticized last month by a consultant to the Vatican’s highest court, who called for the governor to be denied communion because he lives with his girlfriend without being married to her.
But when Bishop Hubbard was asked if he agreed with the consultant — Edward N. Peters, a professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit — he said that such matters were between officials and their pastors, much as they are for private individuals.
“There are norms for all Catholics about receiving communion and we have to be sensitive pastorally to every person in their own particular situation,” Bishop Hubbard said. “And when it comes to judging worthiness for communion, we do not comment on either public figures or private figures. That’s something between the communicant and his pastor personally. It’s not something we comment on.”
Bishop Hubbard also distanced New York bishops from bishops in other states who have sparked controversy in recent years by calling publicly for communion to be denied to elected officials who disagree with church teachings on issues like abortion or same-sex marriage.
“Some bishops have done that but not all bishops have done that,” Bishop Hubbard said. “Quite frankly, there is a disagreement among bishops about using the communion line as a place for a confrontation. And I don’t think that the bishops of New York State feel that’s appropriate.”
UPDATE: There’s some lively discussion on this topic over at the blog Dating God, where blog author Br. Dan declares “The Eucharist is not a weapon.” In the comments, canon lawyer Ed Peters himself weighs in. Check it out.