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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.

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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. Rideitout

    The Church should embrace contraception as a real alternative to abortion, but wants it both ways, no birth-control, and no abortion. THIS "thinking" defies modern logic. We have a Taliban in America.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Michael McOsker

      Yes it does, thank God. Your "modern logic", by the way, allows that it's OK to bomb civilian populations on the off chance of killing a few of the "right" people...and that it's OK to put a retarded man into prison for stealing a slice of pizza.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  2. Shawn

    Waste of time. Didn't read it.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  3. 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 5:38 pm |
    • HONESTLY

      What? You couldn't be more wrong!

      February 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • CrzyWrld75

      I thought it was masturbation that made you blind?

      February 10, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • JS in CT

      The person who posted this is a fascist religous nut who is so narrow minded as to be virtually mentally retarded (and in saying that, I apologize to all people with Downs Syndrome). We also have a first ammendment to be free of people like YOU! The first ammendment is not only about freedom OF religion... it is about freedom FROM religion. The person who posted this is equivalent to the mentality of the Taliban.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • indymid

      HUH?

      February 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • indymid

      What the h-e double hockey sticks was that?

      February 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Shawn

      Oh my god!! I need to get on the bandwagon and follow Jesus!
      I'll follow Santa and the Easter Bunny while I'm at it! (Have to cover all my bases)

      Read your history books moron, religion kills more people than any other thing in existence. Hence the reason this Atheist thinks idiots like you should keep existing.....to control the population.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Josh

      † Atheism makes you stupid, ignorant & blind.- 93% of scientists are atheist/agnostic, am one myself about to graduate with a degree in micro biology
      † Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.- Atheism doesn't kill people, cannot say the same for religions, especially catholics (inquistion, crusades, etc.)
      † Atheism makes you post stupid things. – .....
      † Atheist are satanic and have gothic lifestyle. – Being Satanic is mutually exclusive with atheism, Gothic lifestyle has no correlation with religion or lack of religion.
      † Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith. – Atheists aren't the ones that drowned people in lakes to see if they were witches
      † Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise. – Nothing will it does not exist.
      † Atheism making you agree with Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot & other terrible mass murder leaders. – Pope Gregory IX, Pope Urban II, Bernard of Cairvoux, Hitler, etc... don't generalize
      † No traditional family lifestyle, boring and feeling 'outsider'. – Incorrect there daily life is almost the same
      † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet. – While this is not true for the most part, would you blame us if it were.... don't want to get burned at the stake do we.
      † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people. – Senseless comment
      † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved. – Baseless argument
      † Most Atheists are uneducated... No Atheists could run for presidency. – Most scientists are atheist. True but only because religious people are highly prejudiced.
      † Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history. – Wrong was brought upon by social inequality, and dismal economic conditions
      † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists. – Your logic needs work
      † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals. – Wrong that is like saying religious people are immoral because they just do good so they don't burn for eternity
      † 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) – Oh the "because my storybook says so" argument
      † Atheism have no holidays, no culture, no nothing. Waste of living in this planet... Atheists have the same holidays as you except for easter, and most jewish and muslim holidays. Xmas wasn't even christian to begin with and is now a capitalist holiday. Thanksgiving, halloween, presidents day, 4th of july, new years, MLK, all secular holidays

      Pull your head out of your ass

      February 10, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  4. JoeM

    I dont understand all this picking on the priest. I have read about teachers, coaches, doctors and even a local politician. If your not going to talk about religious freedom and just talk about mean things consider those individuals also

    February 10, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  5. Joe

    Every day children go without medical care, education, or proper food, everyday in every state in America, yet we claim we invade other countries for human rights. What rights does that refer to???? It's a hype, to convince us all to continue a sense of nationalism so we support the movement. America has become the modern "Roman Empire" whereby we've created a fiction called Democracy that is nothing more than a system of controls that gives the appearance or promise of civilized order. BUT WHAT HAPPENS EVERY DAY IN THIS COUNTRY, WE CREATE A SYSTEM OF CONTROL WHEREBY EVERYONE MUST WORK WITHIN THE SYSTEM OR FACE STARVATION, AND LOSS OF PROPERTY. Sure we have "CHARITY" so it makes us all feel superior but in reality it's to instill a sense of shame so deep that everyone keeps faithful to the system. WHAT DO WE DO TO OUR POOR, WE STRIP THEIR HUMAN DIGNITY AND USE THEM LIKE CATTLE. WAKE UP AMERICA WE'VE BECOME WORSE THAN THE ROMAN EMPIRE.

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

      Wake up Joe! If American Children go without proper food, clothing and health care, it's bcause of poor parenting – not because the American system is bad. There are plenty of nutty Socialist "programs" to help these people, but they don't have sense enough to take advantage of them. Or they get the money and use it for drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Come to think of it, maybe what we need is mandatory birth control for those who cannot demonstrate that they have parenting skills and enough resources to take care of the children they procreate . . . hmmmm.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  6. Bruce Williams

    While I have watched the posts on this issue, let me interupt a lot of people out there that seem to be missing one of the very important points regarding this matter. While I firmly respect a persons ability of choice of religion, and that includes all of them, as well as any individules personal choice in the matter using contraceptives or not, all of this supposed compromise does is take the costs involved away from the church in regards, and places the costs of this squarely on the insurance companies who will have to supposedly have to still provide this personal choice for free to any of the people in these groups who choose to use contraceptive measures, "Men and Women".

    Now let's be objective in this matter and line of thought for a minute. If anyone believes that the church won't benefit from not having to pay for this then they more than likely still believe in the Easter Bunny since we are talking about tens of millions of dollars or more in expense. On the other hand if you happen to think that the insurance companies are going to provide this for free and not going to pass this cost on to everyone else in this country then maybe you should just go line up now so you can see Santa Claus and tell him what else you want for Christmas.

    People, there is no such thing as a free meal which this whole thing is if you look at the way this supposed compromise was worded. Somebody else is going to pay for it, and quite personally I can't for the life of me think of one reason why anyone else, myself, or the American taxpayers should be asked to pay for something that you can't have as well? I guess that some people like having to eat cat food while paying for somebody's steak dinner after some politician ordered it for them? I don't think so, and it's not just Republicans vs. Democrats, it's who gave anyone the authority of how, when, or where you spend your money?

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

      Good points. The Obama administration is taking us for fools when they state that the coverage will be "free". What a load of nonsense

      February 10, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • J.W

      Maybe it is good to take it one step at a time. They are at the point now where it has to be available. The next step will be getting them to pay for it.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  7. Michael McOsker

    Quite a few of these postings are really awful. Maybe we should be required to use our real names here.

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

      Yeah like you did!!!

      February 10, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  8. mouse

    Why do all the Catholic Priets look like creepy pedophiles???? Oh that's right, I remember, because they are. Some of you are right, if the catholic lay people stop having babies who will the Priests molest?

    February 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Michael McOsker

      What's your name?

      February 10, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  9. J.W

    Churches are never going to be taxed. You might as well just give up on that.

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

      Mosques, Synagogues, Hindu temples etc. don't get taxed either your moron

      February 10, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • J.W

      I don't see anywhere in my post that I said any kind of religious organization was taxed. Feel free to copy and paste the section of my post where I said that.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  10. Jesucrisco

    Would anyone leave your kid with the fat, pasty guy, with the party hat and the creepy smile?

    February 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  11. hillman

    why is the catholic church worried or have any concern about this subject they are a bunch of gays lol oh no i take that back they need protection too from the lil boys lmao

    February 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  12. Jesucrisco

    Studies have shown again and again that women who are denied access to birth control are more likely to raise their kids in poverty.

    This is just ignorance.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  13. John

    I am so sick and tired of all these damn catholics thinking they are better than everybody else. When in actuality they are probably at last as bad as most and worse than some. All religions are just an escape for the shallow minded. Get a live, and don't worry about some invisible "being".

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

      You are an invisible being to me......so why should I believe what you say?

      February 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  14. rATL

    So y'all would rather people NOT use birth control and instead have thousands of unplanned/unwanted pregnancies? I find this to be so asinine. Why not promote safe s e x instead of complete abstinence because everyone knows that just isn't going to happen. Not everyone wants to be the Duggars with 65 children.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  15. whyrustupid

    If Catholic hospitals and universities take any taxpayer money then they have already broken the separation of church and state. Therefore to continue to receive taxpayer money they need to follow the law and supply birth control in whatever form.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  16. Jesucrisco

    If you can't trust the Church with your children, how can you trust them to be a moral authority over your life?

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

      Also, how can you trust people who insist that talking snakes and people who come back from the dead are real?

      February 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  17. Mireille

    Why don't anybody mention anything in Judaism when rabbi's s.u.c.k babies d..i..c...k blood when they get circ.u.mstized?! Much worse!!!

    February 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  18. CarrotCakeMan

    The ONLY Catholics whining about this are the GOP Catholic bishops. A majority of the States already have this regulation but the GOP bishops didn't whine then. This is nothing more than the GOP bishops following the GOP agenda of "destroy Obama." Lay Catholics are sick and tired of being force-fed GOP propaganda from the pulpits and WILL NOT help the GOP "destroy Obama" over this or anything else the bishops whine about.

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

      No, that is not true. Most Catholics that I speak with are concerned with the amount of control this administartion is exercising

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

      I agree that its the bishops who mostly take exception. They know more than half their congregation is using the pill. This has been an on-going battle. They're losing control of their followers. I think that's what they worry more about.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Mark

      There are millions of lay Catholics supporting the Bishops on this one. This is not about Democrat or Republican politics. It is not about what is or is not covered by insurance policies. It is about freedom of religion pure and simple. You may not agree with the Catholic religion, and you do not have to practice it. But millions of Americans do choose to practice it, and the 1st ammendment guarantees that right. This nation was born over exactly this fight. Millions Catholics are sick and tired of this anti-Catholic bigotry. You can buy your own contraceptives and kill your own children if you want to. We just don't want to donate to your cause. This fight is not going away.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • sarah

      Millions of Catholics must not be going to my church. The moral outrage is not there. But then, its in a liberal city. The Catholic church does not have to run a school or hospital and if they wish to, then they have to follow the law. If they can't, I'm sure the Methodists will be happy to take those facilities over. I'm sure there are plenty of people who "hate Obama" and find this a convenient outlet. But its unlikely it caused significantly more Catholics to be outraged.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  19. tstorm

    This is the very reason I left the cahtolic church. They tell you how to live your life in ways that can be dangerous. I don't know of any ordinary Catholic that hasn't used contraception or condoms even though the church forbids it. The illogical nature on what the church dictates results in the vast majority of catholics to get fed up with it and either leave the church altogether (as I have) or just ignore the pope and go about their ives. I praise President Obama for reaching a good compromise on something that shouldn't have been an issue in the first place.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  20. Joe

    Atheists are just a culmination of symptoms that result in the society we live in today, so it shouldn't be a surprise. If you believe in God then you must understand these things will happen, but most are just scared and have lost faith or never knew faith before. I MEAN LOOK AT SOCIETY TODAY, WE HAVE OVER HALF THE WORLD STARVING OR LIVING IN POVERTY, YET AMERICA BUILDS SILLY NEW WEAPONS AS OPPOSED TO DEVELOPING SCIENTIFIC ADVANCEMENT!!!!!!! WE SPEND MOST OUR TIME TRYING TO CONQUER OTHER SMALLER NATIONS, SO OUR COUNTRY IS NOT EVEN CLOSE TO A CHRISTIAN NATION!!!!!!! WE JUST CARRY BIBLES TO MAKE OURSELVES FEEL SUPERIOR WHEN WE ATTEMPT TO DO EXACTLY WHAT JESUS WAS SENT HERE TO TEACH US NOT TO DO!!!!!!

    SO LET'S NOT PRETEND WE LIVE IN A CHRISTIAN NATION, WE LIVE IN A NATION THAT PRETENDS TO BE "GOD FEARING" BUT BREAKS EVERY LAW GOD GAVE US EVERY DAY!!!!!!!! IN FACT WE MAY REALLY BE THE WORST NATION IN HISTORY, SURE AMERICA IS A DECENT COUNTRY TO LIVE IN!!!! BUT LOOK AT WHAT WE'VE BECOME????????????????

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

      Stop screaming!

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

      Nutty post.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • *frank*

      Decaf.....maybe look into it?

      February 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Harald

      @Joe: not sure you believe that nonsense you wrote. The best thing humanity could do, is abolishing religion. Religion maybe was useful in the past when people used it to make some sense out of their surrounding, lacking scientific knowledge of how things work.
      However, in our modern time, any person with at least average intelligence, shouldn't need to rely on the crutches of faith in the supernatural.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:46 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.