What can I say about the conflict between the Cardinal and the Governor?  Why has he not excommunicated the Governor?  There is a combination of possible answers (Let’s be very clear:  I am NOT privy to the mind of the Cardinal!). 

We need to understand that the “nuclear response” is not always the best response, and it surely shouldn’t be the immediate response.  Cardinal Dolan’s comments make it clear that he and the Governor have had a working relationship in the past; can there be anything that can be built on that?  We shouldn’t immediately shout NO.  And is it possible that for all the public sword-crossing that we see, encounters “behind the scenes” are taking place?  If so, these should not be jeopardized by partisan appeals (on either side).  Too many people love to shout (like Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts) “Off with their heads!!” as a first line of attack—this is not helpful.  If the purpose of one’s position is moral ground-standing and not just grand-standing, one must be ready to be proportionate:  take measures step-by-step.

II Thessalonians 3:14-15 offers a possible reason why there have been no declarations of excommunication:  “If anyone does not obey our word…take note of this person not to associate with him, that he may be put to shame.  Do not regard him as an enemy but admonish him as a brother.”  Yes, this presupposes someone present and active in the community.  But in a larger sense, insofar as the Governor claims to be Catholic (however he understands that claim), he and the Cardinal are in a similar situation.

Beyond that, I will ask a question in complete humility and ignorance:  Is Governor Cuomo a regular communicant in a Catholic church?  If not, excommunication is meaningless:  what would be the effect of forbidding something to someone who doesn’t want it in the first place?  But if he does, I hope the process of II Thessalonians can bear fruit. 

Along these lines, we might consider the admonition of Jesus (Matthew 18:15-18) that after trying to correct an erring brother or sister privately, or with 2-3 witnesses, or the whole church (= community), “…then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.”  This sounds harsh until we remember the way in which we are supposed to treat such people (read Matthew 5:43-48).  We must love them and pray for them.  Things, in other words, can be complicated.

Might he come to Communion out of defiance, in an attempt to score a point?  That’s a different matter.  This would call for immediate reaction.  If this were to occur, I would hope the Governor would have the sense to do this in the Cardinal’s Communion line in St Patrick’s, and not put a (perhaps ignorant, perhaps hyper-reactionary) priest on the firing line.  As in the 4th century, this should be between “Ambrose” and “Theodosius” (an analogy I encourage you to read about).

These are my thoughts, such as they are.