NY Mayor De Blasio’s New Goal: Bring Pope Francis to Town
|Cardinal Dolan with NY Mayor Bill de Blasio|
By Kathy Schiffer
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has not been a friend to Roman Catholics. His policies in support of abortion, homosexual rights, and increased taxes for Church-owned lots have been met with stern opposition from many people of faith.
But the Mayor has been inspired by Pope Francis’ message, and he hopes to attract the pontiff to visit New York City.
With that in mind, Mayor de Blasio visited Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s residence in Midtown on January 13. The two discussed their mutual interests, and made plans to work together to bring Pope Francis to town.
De Blasio left the 45-minute meeting upbeat and enthusiastic. According to a report in Politicker.com:
Mr. de Blasio raved about the “fantastic meeting,” which he said had covered a lot of ground.
“Just wanted to say that I’m really appreciative of the opportunity to spend as much time as I did with His Eminence. And it was a very energizing meeting. We have so much common ground, so much we want to work on together.
“We talked a lot about affordable housing. We talked a lot about Catholic charities and the work it does on behalf of children, on behalf of people in need. We talked about the need to help prisoners returning to society, a whole host of areas where we have common ground and where we can work together,” he added. “We think it’s crucial for the people we represent to have a personal bond and a close working relationship.”
The mayor, who was raised Catholic and whose Italian uncle was a priest, has broken ties with the church of his youth and is not affiliated with any formal religion. He was elected by a 73% majority of New Yorkers, despite a number of anti-Catholic planks in his platform, including:
- He has pledged to partner with Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, helping them to expand their businesses, even providing “city-sponsored” space to set up shop.
- At the same time, he pledged to help abortionists to wipe out their main competition, pro-life pregnancy centers—which he refers to as “sham” clinics which are not “legitimate health care centers.” (Pro-life pregnancy centers offer women financial and logistical assistance to either keep their babies or place them with adoptive families, but they do not perform abortions.)
- He supports a pending appeal by the City of New York of a court order striking down a law aimed at closing pro-life pregnancy centers. If the court appeal fails, de Blasio pledges to “craft new regulations to prevent [crisis pregnancy] centers from masquerading as legitimate health care providers.”
- He supports a NARAL-backed program begun under Mayor Michael Bloomberg to force doctors who train in city hospitals to perform abortions as a routine part of their training. This is intended to ensure that there are a sufficient number of abortionists to meet the high demand in the city.
- He has pledged to use ObamaCare to expand state funding for abortion, so that more New York women will have access to abortions.
- He plans to raise taxes on some 7,000 to 10,500 vacant residential lots, many of which are owned by the Roman Catholic Church. De Blasio’s plan calls for a five-year phase-in period, after which owners of the vacant lots could expect tax hikes averaging $15,300 annually. Crain’s reports that the plan is intended to spur development of housing; but critics doubt that the higher taxes would have the desired effect.
De Blasio’s “diverse” transition team included two rabbis, two Christian ministers and an imam, but no Catholic priest to assist as he assumed office. He did rectify that after receiving complaints from Catholics.
De Blasio has shown solidarity with gays rather than with Irish Catholics, declining to march in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade—citing homosexuals’ complaints that they are not permitted to march. (Actually, the parade officials do not permit any organization to preempt the stated purpose of the parade, namely, to honor St. Patrick; so pro-life organizations, also, may not march under their own banner.)
When the Brooklyn Museum of Art hosted an anti-Catholic exhibit that featured elephant dung smeared on a portrait of the Virgin Mary, along with pornographic pictures, then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani pledged to pull funding from the museum; but de Blasio, then serving as campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s bid for the U.S. Senate seat, accompanied Clinton to the museum without comment.
He ignored a request from the Catholic League to light the Empire State Building in blue and white commemorating Mother Teresa’s centenary.
De Blasio does have direct experience with one “Catholic” organization. In the 1980s, he was employed by the Maryland-based Quixote Center, a social justice center which supports liberation theology and which has been investigated by the Justice Department for smuggling guns to their Sandinista friends, and has been the target of probes by the IRS and the U.S. Customs Service. According to the website of the Quixote Center:
The Quixote Center supports gender equality, including ordination for women; the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons; and advocate for an end to the rule of celibacy for Catholic clergy. We support full communion for divorced and remarried Catholics; due process for church employees and theologians; and democratic reforms in the governance of the Roman Catholic Church. We call for lay involvement in the formulation of church teachings on sexuality and reproduction, improvements in interfaith and ecumenical dialogue, and a strong church voice on issues of social justice.
Cardinal Dolan was cordial during the meeting, and seemed to anticipate a good working relationship with the new mayor. Speaking to reporters afterward, the Cardinal said:
“I expressed to him my deep appreciation for the courtesy of his visit … I felt inspired about his commitment to a lot of the causes that we’re passionate about and I felt excited about working closely working with him.”