Friday, February 10, 2012

Dolan says he is skeptical Obama wants compromise on HHS regs

To learn more about the HHS mandate, visit

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York said he is "a little skeptical" that the Obama administration wants to find a compromise on the requirement that health plans for most religious employers cover contraceptives and sterilization free of charge.

In an interview Feb. 9 with "CBS This Morning," the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said he expressed his "disappointment and disapproval" when President Barack Obama called him Jan. 20 to notify him that the Department of Health and Human Services 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 sterilization 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 organizations 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.

"We bishops are fighters," he said, adding that "this wasn't a fight of our choosing."

The cardinal-designate spoke shortly after both White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod hinted that 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," Carney said Feb. 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," Axelrod said the same day.

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

On Feb. 9, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a Washington-based nonprofit, public-interest law firm, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Eternal Word Television Network in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Ala.

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

"We had no other option but to take this to the courts," Michael P. Warsaw, EWTN president and CEO said in a press release announcing the lawsuit Feb. 9. "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."

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

"This is a moment when EWTN, as a Catholic organization, 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, N.C., and Colorado Christian University, an interdenominational Christian liberal arts university near Denver.


  1. One of my biggest concerns with a compromise is that no one is talking about Catholic business owners. It seems to me that the same issue is there for them as for religious institutions - why should Catholic business owners have to compromise their values any more than Catholic institutions?

  2. I heard a caller on Christian Radio KKLA 99.5? AM radio here in Los Angeles say the same thing on the sponsored religious radio program. Same guy?


  3. I LOVE OBAMA. I normally listen to ONLY Catholic news sources, but everywhere I turn, people are talking about contraception, abortion, the Catholic Church, pros and cons, I even heard on the radio, Rush Limbaugh talking about the link to abortion, contraception and cancer. And our local radio show is on now and people are calling in asking tons of questions about this link. Obama has shed more light on this than EVER before. He also may have just done more to enlighten Catholics to the true teaching of the Catholic Church than our Bishops and Priests in the past 40 years. As a 41 year old, I never ONCE heard any of the priests or bishops talk about contraception. It wasn't until EWTN, Catholic Radio and other sources that I first heard these teachings. I, for one, hope this presses on for weeks. When was the last time we had abortion and contraception in the news! I remember Katrina Zeno come and tell our priest to NEVER talk about these issues. WHAT? What I would say if I were teaching priests and seminarians is easy, if you think people are here to hear you talk about your great mind, your great philosophy or your great insight, get over yourself. Your job is to teach the doctrines and teachings of the one true church. It doesn't matter if you like it, if you hate it or if you don't understand it, but your job is to teach it, all of it. And, find the kindest, most gentle way to do it, even to the man, sitting there who has had a vasectomy, or the average 33% of Catholic women who have had abortions. You have to love, but educate and if you don't pray to the Holy Spirit to guide you in doing so, you will NEVER accomplish your mission. And when you die, there will souls lined up, telling God, there, that guy, he was my priest and never told me and I didn’t know I was committing those sins....too much is given, much is expected. When was the last time a Bishop or Cardinal was on national morning TV, radio, etc. They are everywhere and Dolan and Wuerl are doing a fantastic job! Humane Vitae has come alive.

  4. Also, this is no compromise. He switched victims. Obama is now aiming at health care. We will still pay for abortion and contraception because we all pay for health care. Also, if they are all covering contraception, do we need Planned Parenthood anymore??

  5. Good post ninov, although maybe that 'I LOVE OBAMA' should have been edited to 'I LOVED OBAMA".

    Yes you are absolutely right, homilies in Catholic Churches are sad things. No talk about abortion except around election time. No talk on the developing issues of the last few or more decades , nor of the last century, and all of these are life issues. No talk on contraception, birth control pills, condoms, voluntary adult sterilization for birth control and responsible-free sex, surrogate mothers, in vitro fertilization and the destruction of leftover embryos, assisted suicide, charitable giving and how the 'culture of death' has seeped into nearly every mainstream charity funding either embryonic stem cell research and/or planned parenthood and how with all good conscience all should avoid mainstream charitable disease giving unless they have done their research/homework first.
    No talk on how embryonic stem cell research has moved into a new arena of cells harvested from embryo's are used as diagnostic tools for taste research(Pepsi Co.) and reaching other areas.Nor even any talk on how every anti-life, anti-catholic position has a spokesperson/donor/trusted advisor sitting at the conference table of the Democratic Party advising the president. I'm sure I've missed some things here.

    Some of these things even Kresta has not given full attention to.