Vito Lopez, the capo di tutti capi of the Democratic Party in Brooklyn, is currently the beneficiary of robo-calls by Nicholas DiMarzio, the capo di tutti capi of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, urging every registered voter in City Council District 34 to support Lopez.
Why City Council District 34, when Lopez, who’s not exactly in political trouble (and not even running this year), represents the 53rd state assembly district?
Well, City Council District 34 is represented by someone Lopez wants to get rid of; namely, council member Diana Reyna, in favor of a new protégée, Maritza Davila. The reason, as NYT’s Michael Powell lays it out, is that Reyna, along with Rep. Nydia Velasquez and local nonprofit housing groups, has been opposing Lopez over rezoning a little 31-acre parcel of land known as the Broadway Triangle. (It’s a bitter dispute, pitting Latinos against Hasidic Jews–Lopez is mostly Italian.) The opponents have been suggesting that Lopez earned DiMarzio’s love by switching positions and killing a bill that would have extended the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse lawsuits. And that, in return, the bishop got rid of a priest as head of a local housing group who had annoyed Lopez by opposing the rezoning.
The dispute prompted Msgr. Kieran Harrington, DiMarzio’s consigliere (see Hagen, Tom), to opine in a column in the diocesan newspaper that Mss. Reyna and Velazquez had disrespected his boss. He explained to Powell that the robo-calls were just to “thank Vito who has taken the greatest grief for helping us.” The story ends with a late-breaking Harrington quote that unfortunately didn’t make it into the online version:
In a measure of how heated this election has become, Monsignor Harrington called a reporter back late on Sunday and accused two of the diocese’s priests in Bushwick of supporting Ms. Reyna and fomenting criticism of the diocese.
“Canonically, a priest is not supposed to be involved in partisan politics and it creates a problem for us,” he said. “Some of these priests are really renegades.”
And we know what happens to renegades in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Canonically, of course, a bishop can do as he damn pleases. Hey, Times! Save that kicker!
Follow: Over on dotCommonweal, Paul Moses, who used to ply the religion beat for Newsday, notes that Bishop DiMarzio has rather enthusiastically–in a full-page, color ad in the diocesan newspaper–endorsed Mayor Michael Bloomberg for reelection. (Along with a picture of the two standing together in Yankee St
adium, the ad reads, “MIKE BLOOMBERG: PROTECTING NYC’S CATHOLIC SCHOOLS. FIGHTING FOR US.”) Moses points out that while Bloomberg is famously pro-choice, DeMarzio, chair of the committee that drafted the bishops’ statement on Catholic voting, wrote a letter to the NYT denyingthe paper’s claim that the statement “explicitly allow[s] Catholics to vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights if they do so for other reasons.”
Speaking of which, you wonder how this story is playing across the East River, where the rosy-cheeked new archbishop recently took it upon himself to go after the Times for anti-Catholic bias. Another item for the catalog, Excellency? Welcome to Big Apple media, Tim.