Cardinal Dolan’s Own “State of the State” Letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York

He sent it under the letterhead of the New York State Catholic Conference. The occasion? The Governor just delivered his State of the State address today, as did other governors.

The Cardinal took the opportunity to both praise Governor Cuomo for what he is doing that benefits the common good of society, while chastising him for what he is failing to do to protect its most vulnerable members. It is an even-handed approach that many of us should take when writing a letter to our elected representatives.

Here is the letter in full.

Dear Governor Cuomo:

Congratulations on your third State of the State message earlier today. There is much to cheer in your report, and my brother bishops and I look forward to working with you to advance much of this agenda.

In particular, we share your absolute horror at the many incidents of gun violence that have had such a terrible impact on our society, none more so than the unspeakable massacre of 26 innocent children and women at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14. We commit ourselves to working with you to address this urgent problem as you look toward meaningful reforms of our gun laws, improvements in care for the mentally ill, and safer schools.

Allow me also to single out for praise your continued interest in reforming and improving our state’s health care system, as well as your support for a long-overdue increase in the state’s minimum wage. I am hopeful that real progress can be made in these and other areas that enhance the lives of those who are living below or near the poverty level in our state.

Yes, there is much to praise. However, I would be remiss if I did not renew my great disappointment regarding your continued support for the radical Reproductive Health Act. I know that you appreciate the fact that millions of New Yorkers of all faiths, or none at all, share a deep respect for all human life from conception to natural death. I also know that you are aware that New York State’s abortion rate is, incredibly, double the national average. Sadly, nearly 4 in 10 pregnancies statewide end in abortion. In some parts of New York City, the rate is higher than 60 percent, mostly in the impoverished Black and Latino communities.

As we have discussed in the past, we obviously disagree on the question of the legality of abortion, but surely we are in equally strong agreement that the abortion rate in New York is tragically high. There was a time when abortion supporters claimed they wanted to make abortion “safe, legal, and rare.” Yet this measure is specifically designed to expand access to abortion, and therefore to increase the abortion rate. I am hard pressed to think of a piece of legislation that is less needed or more harmful than this one.

I do hope you will reconsider this position. I stand ready and eager to discuss this or any other matter with you at any time. My brother bishops and I would very much like to work closely with you to reduce New York’s scandalous abortion rate and to provide an environment for all women and girls in which they are not made to feel as though their only alternative is to abort, something which goes against all human instinct, and which all too often leads to lifelong feelings of regret, guilt and pain for them, and for the baby’s father as well.

I look forward to discussing all of these issues with you further when I visit Albany on March 19 and 20 for the New York State Catholic Conference’s Catholics at the Capitol event.

Wishing you and your family every blessing in the New Year, may I remain

Faithfully yours,

Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York


  • Michael

    I am amazed, even after 40 years, that Church leaders still believe they can influence corrupt and immoral public officials.

    • Kenny

      The Church would be failing in its mission if it said and did nothing.Which is far too often the case.

  • ROB

    Congratulations, Praise, every blessing. Way to go Eminenza

  • Fr Shane Johnson, LC

    Only here in New York could it possibly be controversial to want to lower an abortion rate double the national average… Worth a look:,8570.

  • Steve

    Perhaps if the good cardinals’ church spent less time complaining about the PPACA requiring insurance companies to provide contraception (the wider use of which and access to would of course help reduce the number of abortions) and more time making the adoption process easier and available to troubled mothers and more open to qualified couples (… even homosexuals) looking to adopt, he’d start to see abortion rates dropping quicker than they already are.

    • Frank Weathers

      So folks tell us. But does access to contraception reduce the abortion rate?

      It would seem that contraception reduces unplanned pregnancies and therefore abortion, but the opposite is actually true. Numerous studies show that increasing the availability of contraception in a large population does not reduce rates of unplanned pregnancies and abortions, and may increase them.

      Consider the facts:

      * 1 in 3 teen girls will become pregnant within two years of initiating sexual activity, even while using contraceptives

      * almost half (48.4%) of low-income cohabiting teens using the pill, and 72% of those using condoms as their primary method of birth control, will become pregnant within 12 months

      * 65% of women who reported unplanned pregnancies in a major French survey were using contraception

      * experts in contraception now concede that pills are “an outdated method” and perfect use is impossible “for most humans”

      * 54% of U.S. women seeking abortions were using contraception in the month they became pregnant

      * an analysis of 23 studies on emergency contraception (EC) found no evidence whatsoever that increasing access to EC reduces rates of unplanned pregnancy or abortion

      * a 63% increase in the use of contraception between 1997 and 2007 was accompanied by a 108% increase in the abortion rate in Spain.


      Take a look at the studies physicians have compiled too.

      But why doesn’t the Administration just fix the plan at the beneficiary level in the first place? You know, by giving folks choices. Now, the HHS Mandate could be modified to allow individual employees the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they need/want contraceptive, abortifacient, and sterilization services. You know, the HHS could provide a few options that would allow folks to make their own choices to do things contrary to the teachings of various faith groups. This would make things a lot less troublesome for businesses owned by folks who find these services objectionable, and for folks who don’t want to violate their consciences. Folks like the Catholic Church, and her affiliated organizations, or any other group/business. If folks had a choice, see, they would be able to sin (or not) on their own time, and on their own dime, like we all usually do anyway.

      But that is not the case right now. The HHS, acting like we live in the 19th Century, can’t seem to summon the capacity to make a menu of options available to folks, despite our 21st Century capacity to do so.

    • Gary Lockhart

      “(the wider use of which and access to would of course help reduce the number of abortions)”

      A specious, at best, argument which is refuted by the 55,000,000 abortions performed in the United States since January of 1973. When the pill was introduced your same argument was used and as Pope Paul VI correctly predicted in Humanae Vitae it was a lie.

      Also, you fail to mention that many oral contraceptives produce chemical abortions.

      If you want to kill a baby in utero and play Russian roullette with where you spend eternity, do it on your own dime. Hopefully you’ll realize prior to your particular judgment how foolish you’ve been.

  • Maggie Goff

    I think everyone should read Mary Eberstadt’s book:

    Chock full of information about what was contained in the last two comments.