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. Anne

    Not really a compromise. Rather, it's rationalizing away the fact that companies and individuals who don't want to pay for coverage for something against their consciences still will be doing so. Insurance companies don't provide anything for free. We will pay for it one way or the other.

    Never mind that I never use the coverage. (That, too, would be another rationalization.) That is irrelevant so long as my money pays for it. I am still forced to pay into a plan that covers it.

    Why not give an option for people to pay more for their coverage if they want to include that for themselves? If so many people want such coverage, then that in itself should pay for it, right?

    February 10, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Jesucrisco


      February 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Bob

      Actually since getting pregnant and pre-natal care costs more than birth control., insurance companies may well charge more not to cover contraception.

      February 17, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  2. Jesucrisco

    The Church of St. Pedophilia speaks!

    February 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  3. XAB

    This "change in policy" has to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard of. Does Obama really believe that everyone is so dumb to not see how stupid this is??? If the insurance companies are going to have to offer women contraception for "free" who does Obama think is going to pay for it, I can assure you the insurance companies will not take it out of their pockets, they will increase the rates they charge. In this country we not only have freedom of religion, we also have freedom from religion. The Catholic Church considers this an infringement on their religious rights, I think not taxing churches is an infringement on my right of freedom from religion; why should I have to pay extra taxes to support religions.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  4. Philabias

    the only victor will come when obamanation is out of office. he is the most secular anti christain pro islam sack of sh1t to ever darken the door of the white house. any religious person who would vote for this judis is a obamanation to there own god.and any christian who is pro abortion is no christain at all

    February 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • RealisticCatholic

      You're not a good Christian either, or one at all for that matter. How dare you judge others...you know that is only God's place. We were given free will for a reason. You should be ashamed of yourself!

      February 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Shannon

      Try ProjectLiteracyUS. Once you learn how to spell maybe your posts will make some kind of sense.

      February 17, 2012 at 6:39 am |
  5. CommonSense

    And of course, the Catholic church has such credibility these days!

    TAX all religions!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  6. BD70

    Have no use for the catholic church. We were catholic when I was little. My baby sister died suddenly among other things..my parents were divorcing at the time. It was not until way later I found out the catholic church refused to help bury my sister because of the divorce. I also found out way later my father was a pedophile. Go figure..

    February 10, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Rideitout

      Catholic Church = Hocus-pocus-tallyokus. Just check-out the dude's garb.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Lars

      This is not so with the church as they may not condone divorce they will be at the gravesite when asked. I know this for a fact as did this for me when my daughter died.There may have been a time that the church would have refused this but not as of 23 years ago.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  7. Poof

    Oh great. How many other religions out there make this big a deal out of government decisions in the United States? Christianity gets so much special treatment and they still aren't satisfied. It just so happens that contraception helps to curb the government paid health care problem. Less poor people who rely on government paid health care means more money to pay off debt. It just so happens that a contraceptive is a drug that affects the human body to prevent a debilitating condition known as being pregnant! It falls under health care! Health care and religion shouldn't even mix. As soon as this surfaced, the republicans started barking. I'm thinking perhaps the republicans are the ones blowing this out of proportion by demonizing you know who. Then there is the media coverage who just loves conflict..

    February 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  8. cregis

    Let the hospitals offer birth control and then the good Catholics can not apply for it. Simple, let the people decide for themselves.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Houston123


      February 10, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • RealisticCatholic

      And us good Catholics know we should be responsible about bringing children in the world only when we're ready and able to provide them a good family...I don't know another single Catholic personally who actually believes that using birth control is a sin...only our Church clergy claim to believe that...

      February 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  9. Justin

    Whatever, the religious right will only be satisfied if abortion becomes illegal and is treated as first degree murder.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Anon44

      As it should be. Why, when someone kills a pregnant woman, they are tried for two murders? Shouldn't the woman who kills the baby inside her be tried for one murder on that same principle? As I've come to realize, WE MUST define when life begins as a society. I think it begins at conception, but I know others disagree. It surely must begin at some time before birth, wouldn't you agree?

      February 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  10. Safari

    If I were the leader of the catholic church, I think I'd concentrate more on why the churches priests and bishops are so perverted. Young kids are not safe, alone with these creeps. Why aren't the republicans up in arms about that?

    February 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  11. .......


    February 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • XAB

      Someone has done a good job brain washing you!

      February 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • RealisticCatholic

      Can you even spell Atheism? Don't shove your beliefs down other's throats...keep it between you and whatever God you believe in...

      February 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  12. Jesucrisco

    It's hard to imagine anything further from God than a church that molests hundreds of thousands of children and covers it up for generations.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  13. Sy2502

    So my question to the Republicans is this: if you are against government intrusion in telling hospitals what to do, are you also against he Rick Perry law in Texas about forcing hospitals to do ultrasounds to women who want to have an abortion?
    Oh right, I forgot, religious people never think their rules apply to their religion.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • RealisticCatholic

      Great point. Typical religious hypocrisy...

      February 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  14. Joe

    It shouldn't matter what religion a President is, unless your a fanatic for one group or the other!!!!

    February 10, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  15. Atheism = Nazism = Horrible (WARNING!)

    Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things!

    † Atheism makes you stupid, ignorant & blind.
    † Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.
    † Atheism makes you post stupid things.
    † Atheist are satanic and have gothic lifestyle.
    † Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith.
    † Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
    † Atheism making you agree with Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot & other terrible mass murder leaders.
    † No traditional family lifestyle, boring and feeling 'outsider'.
    † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet.
    † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
    † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved.
    † Most Atheists are uneducated... No Atheists could run for presidency.
    † Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
    † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
    † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
    † The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
    † Atheism have no holidays, no culture, no nothing. Waste of living in this planet...

    †† Our Prayers goes to Atheists to be healthy and seek their creator ††

    February 10, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Sy2502

      Wow, you really are an idiot!

      February 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Brooklyn Boy

      This is the most ignorant post I have ever seen!
      I hope you're enjoying your trip to the real world.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • cregis


      February 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • KatyaKatya

      Excuse me, you are exaggerating. Atheism is a mistake but they do have holidays, families and a lot in common with you. Let's just pray for them , this is a wise suggestion 🙂

      February 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • jim

      You are retarded, mentally deficiant, not running on all cylinders, couple beers short a six pack, go pray for yourself if you like to talk to yourself, oh please lord don't smythe me. Stupidity really shows no bounds with you people. Idiot.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Jesucrisco

      Crazy much?

      February 10, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Another Steve

      LOL. I'm forwarding this to Fundies Say the Darnedest Things. Even if it is a poe.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • paul

      I have to assume this was a joke just to stir up trouble.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • rick horwitz

      We wrote the Bible so it's clear to me you have little understanding of its meaning or purpose...

      February 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • RealisticCatholic

      God told me that you bring shame to yourself and your "faith"

      February 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • XAB

      If there is a heaven, I surely would not want to go there is someone like this is let in!

      February 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm |

      What's funny is its religion that has made you closed minded and ignorant. Its how they control their flock, hence its how they control you.
      You just posted the stupidest thing on here.
      Athiest are more successful, and less likely to commit crimes than religious idiots such as yourself.
      Athiest are not satanic you moron... Satanist are satanic. Athiest dont believe in Satan, but im sure you do!
      You dont have to be athiest to disagree with Hitler and the likes of him. But without religion, that whole war would have never happened, and people wouldn't have believed it was okay to kill people in the name of their religion. I could go on and on. But I like when you prove you're an idiot!

      February 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Tim

      Yours is without question the most ridiculous post I have ever read on any of these boards in all the years I've been reading them. It is YOU and your twisted beliefs that have been such a scourge on society. I'd pity you if it weren't for how dangerous it seems you really are.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Rafi

      Atheists have had bad childhood, no love, terrible life experiences? I bet Catholic kids who get molested by priests, or Moslem girls who are married off at 11 years of age, might have a thing or two to say about that.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Ray

      So much stupidity, it burns!

      February 10, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Sandra

      *slides out of her chair laughing*

      February 17, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • Radar

      Theists, especially Christians, are child abusing, child molesting, self-righteous, hypocrites who all focus on issues; abortion, gay rights, making the rich richer, that were never mentioned by Jesus! See? I can generalize too! Big difference: I admit not all of these statements are true for many Christians, but a large number are!

      February 17, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Fawfulster

      I am a trotskyist and an atheist (please look up what those words mean). Your argument is invalid.

      February 17, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Lynn

      If "Atheists don't really exist" , then your list is just BS

      February 18, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Tolpuddle Martyr

      Pray tell us about these impressive educational qualifications you have that we atheists apparently lack?

      February 20, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  16. jim

    I say let them have this little victory, I also say we should tax them for their properties, salaries, income from people giving them money, also no tax deductions for money donated to churches. All these tax free things make my taxes higher to make up the difference for these sun worshippers. _uckem.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  17. Jesucrisco

    Of course! Birth control limits the supply of young, innocent, victims.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • RealisticCatholic


      February 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  18. Jazzy

    If we don't elect a non-Christian president by 2016 I will move out from this country FOREVER!

    February 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Angryants

      Promises...promises. One can only hope you do.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • DumbBO

      You already did. His name is Obama!

      February 10, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • lman

      What an appropriate name. By the way, Obama is a christian, he just doesn't feel the need to obnoxiously throw his faith in everyone's faces.

      February 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  19. Joe

    As a devout Catholic I tried to stay loyal to the church even while it faced its own corruption. But my family moved to Texas and when we got involved in the local parish I was shocked to find out that Texas church is different than where we were originally from. The Catholic church in Texas condones drinking alcohol at fund raising activities, the masses are completely different. The priests give sermons of a political view point, as opposed to a religious sermon. It's was weird so I finnally realized the Catholic church like so many has been assimilated into a political indoctrination program. SO SOMEONE IS GETTING SOME BENEFIT FROM IT, BUT I DIDN'T LIKE IT SO WE LEFT THE CHURCH!!!! THE CHURCH NEEDS TO QUIT PRETENDING TO BE CHURCHS IF THEY ARE EMPLOYERS THEY NEED TO ABIDE BY THE LAW, OTHERWISE WERE GOING TO HAVE MUSLIMS, JEWS, BAPTISTS, MORMONS, BORN AGAIN'S, ALL CLAIMING RELIGIOUS OBJECTION TO EVERYTHING!!!!

    February 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Yel

      Hallo liebe Heidenheimer gegen S21,schade, dass sich auf eurer Web-Seite schon lange nichts mehr getan hat!Was kf6nnt ihr zur gpalenten Info-Veranstaltung berichten!Ihr Habt den Termin auch noch nicht im Terminkalender der Parkschfctzer eingetragen.!Ich wfcnsche euch viel Erfolg! Wir mfcssen dranbleiben! und OBENBLEIBEN!Liebe Grfcdfe,Carola

      April 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  20. jimbo

    People abandoning the true church, this is suppose to happen. Its been foretold

    February 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Jesucrisco

      Who's the true church. The church of the child molesters?

      February 10, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Ewelina

      I don't know any of the subjects of your otrtraips, I'm just a fan of your work .My first vote would have to go to #17, Cherries.And the second vote (facebook fan) #39, the Tent Shot.Looking forward to seeing the winners!

      April 3, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
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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.