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Cardinal-designate Dolan says Obama reneged on assurances

By on Friday, 10 February 2012

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan on CBS This Morning (CNS)

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan on CBS This Morning (CNS)

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York said that he is “a little sceptical” that the Obama administration wants to find a compromise on the requirement that health plans for most religious employers cover contraceptives and sterilisation free of charge.

In an interview with the CBS This Morning programme, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops said he expressed his “disappointment and disapproval” when President Barack Obama called him on January 20 to notify him that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was sticking by the contraceptive mandate announced last year but giving religious groups an additional year to comply.

That decision, he said, was “at odds with the very sincere assurances he gave me” during a White House meeting in early November that the religious freedom and conscience rights of those who are morally opposed to contraception and sterilisation would be protected.

Cardinal-designate Dolan said he felt hopeful after the November meeting, but added: “I don’t have those sentiments of hope now.”

The Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate includes a religious exemption, but leaders of various Catholic and other faith-based organisations say it is too narrow and they will still be forced to provide coverage they oppose.

Cardinal-designate Dolan called the decision to require contraceptive coverage by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who is Catholic, a “terribly misguided judgment” but said it had prompted “a massive negative reaction” not only among Catholics but among those who value religious freedom.

The cardinal-designate spoke shortly after both White House press secretary Jay Carney and Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod hinted that Mr Obama would be open to a compromise.

“The president is very interested in finding the appropriate balance between religious beliefs and convictions – and he takes those very seriously – and his commitment to making sure that women of all faiths have access to these important health care preventive services,” Mr Carney said on February 7.

“We certainly don’t want to abridge anyone’s religious freedoms, so we are going to look for a way to move forward that both provides women with the preventive care that they need and respects the prerogatives of religious institutions,” Mr Axelrod said the same day.

In other responses to the HHS contraceptive mandate, a handful of lawsuits have already been filed.

On February 9, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a Washington-based non-profit, public-interest law firm, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) in the US District Court in Birmingham, Alabama.

The lawsuit, which seeks to have the mandate declared unconstitutional, named Mrs Sebelius, the department she leads and other government agencies as defendants.

“We had no other option but to take this to the courts,” Michael Warsaw, EWTN president and CEO, said in a press release announcing the lawsuit yesterday.

“Under the HHS mandate, EWTN is being forced by the government to make a choice: either we provide employees coverage for contraception and abortion-inducing drugs and violate our conscience or offer our employees and their families no health insurance coverage at all. Neither of those choices is acceptable.”

Mr Warsaw said in the release that the legal action was taken to protect all organisations – Catholic, non-Catholic, religious and secular alike – from “having this mandate imposed on them”.

“This is a moment when EWTN, as a Catholic organisation, has to step and say that enough is enough.”

Lawyers from the Becket Fund previously filed suits against HHS on behalf of Belmont Abbey College, a small Catholic liberal arts college in Belmont, North Carolina, and Colorado Christian University, an interdenominational Christian liberal arts university near Denver.

  • ConfofChi

    ” the very sincere assurances he gave me”— from Obama!!

  • Guest

    The Church has been absolutely right in its opposition to contraception.

    those who wish to learn why the Church is correct on this issue, an
    excellent commentary and further resource links can be found here:

  • Charles Martel

    Obama is an anti-Catholic creep. He must be opposed by all Catholics. No Catholic can in conscience vote for this advocate of partial-birth abortion.

  • Anonymous

    No person with a conscience can vote for the most radically pro-abortion president in History

  • mortimerzilch

    the bishops had better do more than resist politically…they had better figure out what they are going to do – BESIDES CAVE IN – with all their hospital, schools, and social service agencies when the lose in Court and the Obama Administration (his second one!) refuses to allow for a conscience exemption.
    that’s what the bishops should really be worried about….

  • GFFM

    Dolan is not the man to handle the job of taking on the Obama administration. He also needs to quit the avuncular pose and find some gravitas. Call this what this is: a highly cynical move to split the Catholic Church in the US and to intrude upon the rights of conscience, except if its a radical left wing conscience.

  • Honeybadger

    Indeed, Obama is an oxymoron of the highest calibre!

  • Honeybadger

    Unfortunately, Roman Catholics WERE WARNED/TOLD, before the 2008 election which brought Obama to office, of his relentless support for abortion, contraception etc.

    The ones who thought that it was all hogwash still voted him in! Now, even the ‘liberal’ Catholics are seeing the light.

    They are to blame for voting in this anti-Catholic nomark creep as is the Principal of Notre Dame University ( A Holy Cross priest) who was sticking his fingers in his ears and going la-la-la-la-la when I and many Roman Catholics including Bishops and brother priests wrote, petitioned and begged him to cancel the invitation to President Obama to address the university’s commencement ceremony!

    Peaceful protesters – including a US war veteran who was also a priest – were arrested at Notre Dame and subsequently imprisoned.

    If he made a stand instead of being lured by the deadly sin of vanity, then a crystal clear message from the faithful would have made our position clear.

    No wonder Santorum is gaining ground.

  • Guest

    Below is an insightful, explanation of the Church’s teaching on the issue of contraception.

    Personally, I think the Church’s teaching on marriage, sexuality and the
    family is incredibly beautiful, dignified, and uplifting.

    Whether one agrees or disagrees, this short essay provides a succinct
    and powerful explanation of the teaching, while leaving the open-minded
    reader with a lot of food for thought.