Cuomo Says His Faith Is a Private Matter

ALBANY – Describing his religion as a “private matter,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declined to respond Wednesday to a Vatican adviser’s call that he be barred from receiving holy communion because he lives with his girlfriend.

“For me, I choose to keep my religion and my religious practices private and not discuss it in the political arena,” Mr. Cuomo told reporters after delivering an encore of his budget at St. Joseph’s College in Suffolk County.

Mr. Cuomo’s comments came after news reports Wednesday about the criticism by the Vatican adviser, Edward N. Peters, a canon law professor whom Pope Benedict XVI named last year as a consultant to the Vatican’s highest court.

Mr. Cuomo, who is Roman Catholic, lives with his girlfriend, the Food Network celebrity Sandra Lee, an arrangement that Dr. Peters describes as “public concubinage.” He said in a recent interview with a conservative Web site that it would be “objectively sacrilegious” for Mr. Cuomo to receive communion.

Mr. Cuomo was asked by a reporter on Wednesday how he could say his religion was a private issue when he began his speech at St. Joseph’s by recalling his childhood experience attending Catholic school.

“Like this: It’s a private matter,” Mr. Cuomo replied. “That’s how I can say it.”

Also on Wednesday, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany released a statement rebuking Dr. Peters, who had criticized him for allowing Mr. Cuomo to receive holy communion during Mass the weekend of his inauguration and not addressing in his homily Mr. Cuomo’s support of abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

“It is unfair and imprudent to make a pastoral judgment about a particular situation without knowing all the facts,” Bishop Hubbard said. He added, “As a matter of pastoral practice we would not comment publicly on anything which should be addressed privately, regardless if the person is a public figure or a private citizen.”

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