Catholic Culture Overview
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HHS mandate ‘compromise’ still not acceptable: Cardinal Dolan

February 07, 2013

The Obama administration’s latest “compromise” on the HHS contraceptive mandate does not resolve the objections raised by the Catholic hierarchy, Cardinal Timothy Dolan has announced.

Speaking in his capacity as president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Dolan released a statement on February 6 in response to the Obama administration’s compromise. The cardinal said that the latest HHS proposal fails to preserve the religious liberty of Catholic individuals and Catholic institutions.

Cardinal Dolan said that the Obama administration continues to base its policy on an “exceedingly narrow” definition of what qualifies as a religious employer. He outlined three main areas of concern with the mandate proposal, noting that the USCCB had set forth the same three problems in a March 2012 statement:

  1. First, the cardinal said, the proposal “appears to offer second-class status to our first-class institutions in Catholic health care, Catholic education, and Catholic charities.” He explained that the HHS plan treats these Church-run institutions as if their work was separate from the religious mission of the Church, “rather than accepting the fact that these ministries are integral to our Church and worthy of the same exemption as our Catholic churches.”
  2. Second, Cardinal Dolan observed that the proposal would require coverage of contraception and sterilization for non-profit institutions that were not recognized by the federal government as “religious employers.” The latest HHS proposal does not make it clear whether these institutions would be required to subsidize these objectionable services, he said, remarking that “it is still unclear” how the separate policies proposed in the latest “compromise” plan would actually be funded.
  3. Finally the cardinal said that the HHS plan remains clearly objectionable insofar as it requires private employers to subsidize contraceptive coverage regardless of their moral objections. Cardinal Dolan said that the Church asks the faithful to live out their principles in their daily lives. “We cannot now abandon them to be forced to violate their morally well-informed consciences,” he said.

Cardinal Dolan emphasized that the US bishops remain committed to working with the Obama administration to devise a policy that would allow for full medical coverage without threatening the religious freedom of American citizens. “We look forward to engaging with the administration,” he said—in what may have been an indirect jab at the White House, which had not consulted with the US bishops before announcing the new compromise proposal.

“Throughout the past year, we have been assured by the administration that we will not have to refer, pay for, or negotiate for the mandated coverage,” Cardinal Dolan said. “We remain eager for the Administration to fulfill that pledge and to find acceptable solutions.”


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  • Posted by: - Feb. 08, 2013 12:18 AM ET USA

    A very diplomatic and (in my opinion) much too wordy communiqué that in essence is saying that the Church is maintaining its opposition to the HHS Mandate as laid out in their (USCCB's) statement from last March. Now the Church needs to clearly and aggressively communicate their message to all Catholics so they will better understand the issues involved and also the continued duplicity of the President and his administration in their dealings with the Church. Like the recent public statement from Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, each Bishop should be forcefully speaking out on this issue at every opportunity. They should also be speaking from the pulpits at all Sunday masses.

  • Posted by: unum - Feb. 07, 2013 9:37 PM ET USA

    Cardinal Dolan is "dancing with the devil" as he remains "committed to working with the Obama administration to devise a policy that would allow for full medical coverage without threatening the religious freedom of American citizens." He is putting all citizens who value their religious freedom at risk by not taking a stand. Jesus never tried to "work with" Caesar, nor did he pick any fights. But, he knew where he was going, and he was guided by the will of the Father. That's enough for me.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Feb. 07, 2013 6:22 PM ET USA

    Chemicals that disable entire human systems are not medicine, they are poisons. We are refusing to pay for poisons and murder, that's all.