The New York Times efficiently describes the average U.S. Catholic:
He goes to Mass, though not every Sunday. He considers himself a practicing Roman Catholic, yet avoids calling himself devout. He opposes the death penalty, as church leaders do. But he is divorced. And he supports same-sex marriage and abortion rights, stances sharply at odds with church teaching.
The name of the average Catholic featured in the Times is Gov. Andrew W. Cuomo of New York:
In other words, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York shares the churchgoing habits and social views of a sizable number of the 68 million Americans who have identified themselves as Catholic in recent surveys. His brand of faith is so commonplace — at least in New York — that it was barely mentioned during his campaign last year for governor.
But now that he is the governor, the everyday complications of Mr. Cuomo’s religious identity have become a lightning rod in a decades-old culture war between conservative Catholics and those, like Mr. Cuomo, who disagree with the church’s positions on various issues, including abortion and divorce.
Ah yes, those "conservative Catholics"—such as the Pope, we should note—who believe that being a Catholic somehow involves knowing Church teaching and living in accord with said teaching. Of course, if you are a self-described Catholic who disagrees with the Church's teaching about the validity and licitness of the Novus Ordo, or the rejects in some way the Church's teachings on religious liberty, the New York Times won't be as sympathetic or understanding. The point being that the so-called newspaper of record is ardently pro-Catholic when the Catholicism in question adheres to the Gray Lady's black-and-white stances on the morality of abortion, the beauty of "gay marriage", and the need for divorce; in short, the Times likes non-Catholic "Catholicism". Thus, Gov. Cuomo, if not exactly a hero, is apparently a true disciple of this faux Catholicism, even if it means being a martyr (albeit in the service of a faux martyrdom):
The conflict over the governor’s faith began last month, when Edward N. Peters, who teaches at the seminary of the Archdiocese of Detroit and holds an appointment as an adviser to the Vatican on canon law, wrote that Mr. Cuomo should not be allowed to receive holy communion because he is divorced and living with his girlfriend, the Food Network host Sandra Lee, in what Mr. Peters called “public concubinage.”
In early March, Mr. Cuomo said he would be unable to meet with the bishops because of a scheduling conflict, a move that some in Albany interpreted as a deliberate snub in response to Dr. Peters’s criticism.
All was eventually patched up: Mr. Cuomo found time on March 8 to meet the bishops for lunch at his residence. Afterward, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany said that the question of whether the governor should receive communion was between Mr. Cuomo and his pastor.
Yet friends of the governor’s who were interviewed in recent days said Mr. Cuomo was disturbed at so promptly being thrust into the spotlight of conservative Catholics’ moral disapproval — rough treatment previously accorded only to the most high-profile Catholics, like Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts or former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani when they ran for president.
“I’d say he was hurt, on his own behalf and on behalf of Sandra,” said John Marino, a family friend and a past chairman of the state Democratic Party.
Because, you see, stating the obvious and objective truth about public sins—especially those of a high profile, powerful, and wealthy politician—is hurtful. Unlike, say, the scandal such sins cause serious, orthodox Catholics who continue to think and believe, contrary to the wisdom of the masters of mainstream (im)morality, that being Catholic involves "an assent of the intellect and will to the self-revelation God has made through his deeds and words" (CCC, 176), and that the "Church is the mother of all believers" (CCC, 181). For some average U.S. Catholics, however, spurning the advice of Mother Church is preferable to losing the accolades of the Gray Lady and her handmaids.
UPDATE (Mar. 22, 2011): A number of readers have expressed frustration or concern over this quote in the Time's piece:
In e-mailed responses to questions, Dr. Peters, whose canon law blog is called “In the Light of the Law,” said there were only three ways to resolve what he referred to as “the scandal” that Mr. Cuomo was causing the church.
“He should cease cohabiting without benefit of matrimony, or he should cease presenting himself for holy communion, or the sacrament should be withheld from him,” he wrote. “As a general rule of Catholic morality, men and women are not supposed to live together without benefit of matrimony.”
Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said the controversy did not arise during the governor’s “cordial” lunch with the bishops.
“Thank God it didn’t,” Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan told reporters after the meeting, “because it was a bit of a tempest in a teapot.”
It would seem, based on the above, that Abp. Dolan is dismissing the importance of Dr. Peters' remarks and Gov. Cuomo's actions/positions. But, in fact, it appears that the Times has neatly taken the Archbishop's quote out of its proper context. Here is a section from a March 9, 2011, piece from the Associated Press:
Although Dolan said he discussed few specifics with the Democrat, the archbishop said he felt progress was made to support Catholic schools more with state aid after the state "gets its fiscal house in order." Dolan recently testified in a legislative budget hearing that nonpublic schools are taking a deeper hit than public schools in Cuomo's proposed budget, and the state owes Catholic schools money from past years' commitments.
"I said, 'Look, you all tell us in the government that you want quality education, you need to save money, and you need more room,"' Dolan said, relaying his conversation with Cuomo in the executive mansion. "We can help you in all three: We do the best job around, we'll do it at half the price and we got room. It's a no-brainer. Can't we cooperate? He said, 'Yeah, let's do it.' ... So there will be follow up."
Then Dolan turned on his renowned wit to avoid some touchy issues. He said he didn't feel snubbed when Cuomo wasn't in Albany recently to meet with the archbishop earlier.
"It was a bit of a tempest in a teapot," Dolan said. "Hey, it worked out better. We got lunch out of it."
Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto said the governor enjoyed the lunch and will work closely with the bishops.
The New York Daily News reports the same thing, but adds:
Dolan also said the bishops did not bring up the recent comments of a Vatican adviser who said Cuomo should be denied Communion because of his relationship with live-in girlfriend Sandra Lee.
"Our religion would also say it is not good to judge a person," Dolan said.
Of course, judging the eternal state of someone's soul is not at issue; rather, it's a matter of judging public actions, which is a completely legitimate and necessary part of, well, life.
UPDATE #2: (March 22, 2011): The New York Times piece has been updated/revised:
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: March 22, 2011
An earlier version of this article misstated the context of the quotation by Archbisop Dolan, “it was a bit of a tempest in a teapot.”