home
RSS
Mixed Catholic reaction to revised White House contraception plan
New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, whom President Barack Obama called Friday morning.
February 10th, 2012
12:28 PM ET

Mixed Catholic reaction to revised White House contraception plan

By Eric Marrapodi CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - As word trickled out of a White House compromise with Catholic groups on its rule around contraception coverage on Friday morning, administration officials took to the phones to sell the plan to religious leaders across the spectrum.

Catholic officials say President Obama called New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, to explain the revised policy, which exempts religiously affiliated universities and hospitals for paying for no cost contraception for their employees but requires insurers to offer such coverage for for free to women who work at such institutions.

Dolan responded to the White House plan Friday afternoon in a statement saying the move was, "a first step in the right direction."

“While there may be an openness to respond to some of our concerns, we reserve judgment on the details until we have them," he added.

But other bishops were far more critical. "I think he's punting, just kicking the can down the road," Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski told CNN. "He's hasn't really addressed our concerns.  I think the only thing to do is... to take back the whole thing."

After hanging up with Obama Friday morning, Dolan quickly organized a conference call with other bishops nationwide, according to a source briefed on the calls. It's yet to be seen how the Catholic Church will greet the revised White House policy, but some conservative religious voices say they're not satisfied.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

Wenski said the Miami Archdiocese pays an insurance company to cover its 5,000 employees and argued that if the insurance company is paying for and providing contraceptives, as the new compromise lays out, the church would still be paying for it.

"They're missing the point when they say this is about contraception," he said. "This is about religious freedom.  It's a sham to say contraception aren't widely available in this country."

But some Catholic groups applauded the White House announcement. Sister Carol Keehan from the Catholic Health Association said she is"very pleased" with the White House.

"Folks were extremely grateful for this," said James Salt, who heads the progressive group Catholics United, which is close to the White House.

Salt was on a White House call to religious leaders Friday morning that was led by Joshua DuBios, director of Obama's Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

"This is a solution that can be universally celebrated," Salt said. " There were groups on the call that have a very pro-choice world view and there was no dissent... We're putting out a full-throated endorsement of this."

Stephen Schneck, a professor from Catholic University who has advised the administration in the past, is also pleased with the new HHS policy.  "There was great enthusiasm on the call, a real sense of relief," he said, referring to the conference call with DuBois.

"I think [the administration] finally got it as a result of the fire storm...the religious liberty concerns, that's what turned the policy makers," he said.  "The level of solidarity with the bishops  in seeing this as a religious liberty issue is what I think turned the day."

In recent weeks, religious leaders loudly lobbied the White House on its plan to make religious institutions offer free contraception to employees through health insurance plans. Evangelicals and conservative Jews joined with Catholics in saying the policy was an intrusion of religious liberty.

"As long as the Obama portrayed this as a contraception issue they had a chance to win the pr battle," said Richard Land, head of public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention.  Despite the compromise, Land said the damage has been done.

"It'll be devastating with Catholics," he said, arguing that the president has "shown what he really believes."

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which brought three lawsuits in federal court against the policy, denounced the White House change Friday as an “accounting gimmick.”

Becket said the new compromise doesn’t address the private religious groups and others who object the policy and still view the new policy as them paying for contraceptives, albeit through an insurer.

“Hundreds, if not thousands, of religious institutions are still left out in the cold and will be forced to violate their religious convictions,” said Hannah Smith, senior legal counsel for the Becket Fund, in a statement.

An administration official said the White House will convene meetings with religious leaders in coming days and that “this policy will be developed collaboratively so that the ultimate outcome works for religious employers, their workers and the public.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Church and state • Politics

soundoff (2,082 Responses)
  1. Tadd

    I am really getting tired of all of the antics surrounding politics...There will ALWAYS be a dissenting opinion, and if faith based organizations were to hold true to their beliefs, they would understand that not everybody acts the exact same way (even though the ultimate goal is for just that) – dictatorship like control with a different set of applications. I am a practicing Christian and currently studying the Catholic religion. Unfortunately, too much of America listens and believes what they are told...

    February 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  2. Hairbear

    Ok, Child molestors don't need pills! That's why were having this discussion!

    February 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  3. maude

    Allah Agbar

    February 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  4. Luke

    This is a good opportunity for church purifying and downsizing. All you "Catholics in name only"...take a hike.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Jesucrisco

      All that would be left is the child molesters.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • sbp

      There would be 3 people left. And they'd be closeted gays.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Luke

      That's fine...if you have no use for the church just get lost and find something else to obsess about. Stop trying to interfere in the lives of those who believe.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  5. TOTO

    what about religion? what about humanism? what about atheist? what about nuts? everybody has the right to proclaim whatsoever he wants. let people live in freedom, speak in liberty, people who attack religion is worse than the religious themselves..................

    February 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Augie

      Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Hobie111111

      Augie – best line I've heard in a long time. That one's going on the wall.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Minopl

      People will leave religion as soon as it stop robbing people of their freedom. Religion sucks,

      February 10, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  6. Jesucrisco

    After all of the innocent lives that they've ruined, th Catholic Church should sit down and shut up. They have no moral authority whatsoever.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Me

      Yeah that's right, blame the entire church because of a few..

      February 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • John P

      An liberals do? Thanks for the laugh!

      February 10, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Jesucrisco

      Me For generations, the church leadership protected the child molesters at the expense of innocent children.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Augie

      @ Me, you're right, why hold the church accountable since this practice has only been going on for centuries.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  7. GOD

    Child Molestation, Ethnic Cleansing, Slaughter and Intolerance = Catholic Church. EFF the Catholic Church!

    February 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Augie

      Yes, but they did this without wearing condoms so it's okay.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  8. HONESTLY

    Ok, I can get onboard with the church not providing contraception from their business but only if we are allowed to remove their tax exempt status. in doing that,We could get rid of every national debt, feed every child, and the churches would go under. Do we have a deal???

    February 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Jared

      Do you really think churches would go under? You don't think people give to churches for the tax breaks do you? Next time you do your taxes figure out how much you get back on charitable donations.

      At the same time though, you would be hurting many communities' poorest people by attacking their food banks as most are church run.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • J.W

      If you think that taxing churches will bring in 15 trillion dollars, well it wont.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • tom

      Sure. The 5000 people of just one archdiocese mentioned in this article will be forever grateful for loosing their jobs. Never mind the closing of hospitals, schools, universities etc etc etc....

      February 10, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  9. JustWho

    is the jerk who wants to control lives? Rick, Mitt, Newt, Ron? All must be drinking tainted tea.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  10. Augie

    Well over 90% of Catholics surveyed said they have used contraceptives. At least there's no hypocrisy in play.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  11. Kupledon

    The Catholic Church thinks that they know everything. Yet Martin Luther had to break away from them. The Church jailed Galileo for agreeing with Copernicus that the Earth is not the center of the Universe. Hundreds of years later in 1992 they apologized. Galileo died imprisoned in 1642. Religion SUCKS.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  12. tluv00

    I guess Catholic Priests prefer going bareback when raping young boys.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • sbp

      Oh, no, they CAN use contraception for that, because there is no risk of preventing a pregnancy. See, they have it all worked out, doctrinally speaking.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  13. food

    Does anyone know what their stance is on Viagra?

    February 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Kupledon

      Viagra is for men so they won't mess with it. They are anti women. Plus they need it for the little boys they oversee .MISOGYNISTIC

      February 10, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Matt

      The priest eat it like it's candy.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  14. Jesucrisco

    The Catholic Church is a multinational criminal enterprise set up for the sole purpose of robbing the gullible and molesting the innocent.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Minopl

      Yeah, they are also misogynists. They've never seen a uterus they don't hate.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  15. Jim

    Why the White House trips over itself to placate a bunch of child molesters is baffling.

    And yes, Southernsugar, it is my business.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Jesucrisco

      Amen!

      February 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  16. Gerald

    This is a shell game. The Insurance companies. The Insurance companies are not just going to start giving out pills at the same premiums. They will raise the premiums. They just won't say what the reason is. Does Obama think we are that stupid?

    February 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Matt

      The insurance companies would much rather pay for birth control than for pregnancy. Just think, when your premium goes up (which it will regardless of this ruling) you can always blame Obama and whine about it.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Minopl

      Stop blaming Obama for an issue caused by the arrogant Church.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  17. Preligion

    Priests who molest children and politicians who turn magically turn unborn humans into inhuman fetuses. They're all worthy of the dung heap, and yet they all think they're so special.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Gerald

      I'm guessing your protestant. Did you know that a higher percentage of protestant pastors molest children than Catholic priests. Do you condemn all priests because only a small percentage commit this hienous crime? Sure sounds like it.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Preligion

      To Gerald... Sorry, didn't know about the protestant clergy equation... add them to your priests.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • leo

      @Gerald – so what do you think about the Pope knowing about all the molestations and doing his best to hide it from everyone else? He's supposed to be God's representative on earth....some god! I doubt if god exists that she condones molesting children like the pope did....oh right....I forgot God also wasn't a Nazi youth....

      February 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  18. leo

    Since when are we worried about what a bunch of baby "lovers" like the catholic church thinks? Since when do we cowtow to what a religious group says? Obama is such a disappointment. If there were a republican candidate that wasn't completely off his rocker I'd vote for him instead of Obama.....

    February 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Gerald

      Baby lovers? You hate babies Leo? God doesn't think much of you.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • leo

      No Gerald. I don't hate children. I also don't molest them. I care what your god thinks. Mine hates the church and all it stands for.

      February 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  19. more smith

    how about catholic's reaction to clergymen raping children? SHould just burn down the entire vatican and watch the whole religion disappear.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • food

      We could hope.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  20. Trent

    Any man worth his salt would tell the bishops to take a flying jump into Hades. This is about the ladies and their health NOT the whims of a bunch of puke face men that wear dresses. It's time to make the chuch part with some of that gold they use to adorn the vatican where the vultures live.

    February 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.