Cuomo huddles with Catholic leaders to honor Mother Cabrini

He’s showing who’s boss.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with top Catholic and Italian American leaders Friday to hammer out a plan to build a Mother Cabrini statue — a move that could freeze out Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city government from having any say or role in honoring the Italian-American icon.

Among the attendees at the meeting was Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.

Options include erecting a Cabrini statue on property controlled by the state, not the city, government, including near the World Trade Center/911 Memorial Museum, a source said.

The statute could also be placed outside the Cabrini shrine in Washington Heights, where the immigrants’ saint’s remains are interred.

“It was a great first meeting and we are all committed to building this statue of Mother Cabrini as soon as possible,” said Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi.

The governor on Columbus Day holiday earlier this week promised to provide state funding for the statue.

Cuomo big-footed the issue after de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray passed over Cabrini when announcing that statues were being dedicated to seven other women as part of the “She Built NYC” program — enraging Italian-Americans and Catholics. McCray oversaw a panel that made the selection.

DiMarzio, who oversees the diocese of 1.5 million Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens, led a procession for Cabrini and is spearheading a church fundraising effort to cover the costs of a statute to honor Cabrini.

Cuomo on Monday suggested City Hall fumbled by snubbing Cabrini.

“Everyone has to feel respected and included and like they have a seat at the table. And the Italian American community felt disrespected,” he said on Columbus Day. “Who started it, was it wrong, who cares? Fix it, resolve it, find peace. That’s what this does.”

He said the state will help the Brooklyn archdiocese raise funds and find a site for the Cabrini statue.

“They need additional funding — I said the state will provide additional funding because we support this,” Cuomo said. “It’s not that they have to do it on their own. We’ll find an artist, find a site, find a location. The state’s role will be supportive, and the state will provide funding.”

De Blasio, on WNYC radio Friday morning, refused to get into-a-tit-for-tat with Cuomo for intervening in the Cabrini statue controversy.

“I’m just not going to get lost in this,” the mayor said.

“It’s just not pertinent. What’s pertinent is we are trying to honor the majority of New Yorkers who are women and actually bring their history to life in this city and we’re going to keep doing that and there’s going to be more ahead and I think Mother Cabrini is someone who should be honored and we’re going to make sure it happens,” he said.

The She Built group asked for nominations from the public and Cabrini was the top vote-getter.

But co-chairs McCray and former Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen ignored the nominations poll and made the final call, selecting jazz legend Billie Holiday, desegregation activist Elizabeth Jennings Graham, Latina doctor Helen Rodriguez Trias and LGBTQ advocate Sylvia Rivera, who described herself as a drag queen.

Shirley Chisholm, America’s first black congresswoman; Katherine Walker, who saved at least 50 victims of shipwrecks and boat accidents as keeper of the Robbins Reef Lighthouse; and Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender activist involved in the Stonewall Uprising, will also get statues.

De Blasio claimed on WNYC that “there was never a vote, there was never a public process where we said, ‘We’re going to have a vote and whoever gets the most vote wins,’ it was never anything like that.”

But when announcing the She Built program last year, the city announced it was accepting nominations from the public.

Source: Read Full Article