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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.

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. Charlie

    Keep the church out of politics and government. I am sick of these Catholic perverts and their demented beliefs.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • wes

      Keep the church out of politics-Um hello. thats what we all want who oppose the President. do you have a hole in your head. your point is exactly our point. Damn, were doomed, What a bizarre statement.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  2. Ken

    Does CNN have copy editors for blog articles like this? "Wenkis"? He is Archbishop Wenski. "The Obama"? C'mon, CNN, spend a little time on these pieces before tossing them online.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  3. Abra Ham

    My reaction to the Catholic church "go f yourself, you dirty pediophilic society".

    February 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Michael McOsker

      You have a name, tough guy?

      February 10, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • HONESTLY

      Michael really? Your gonna argue that the doing of children or the church trying to cover it up is ok? You gross pig!

      February 10, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Charlie

      Tough guy? You mean like you and your catholic friends that mol-est kids and then bribe families to keep them quiet. You are real tough you piece of shi-t.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • wes

      your a dirty pig. keep sucking big governments schlong.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Michael McOsker

      Still no real names here. A lot of filthy talk, though. Grow up, boys.

      February 12, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  4. Bill in Pleasanton, CA

    Well ... I'm a 59 year old Catholic. But, this latest intrusion into people's private lives and healthcare is just the last straw. I am done. It just about killed me raising two kids through college and they are still living at home at 25 and 28. People have the right to decide how many children they want to have and having the church try to get into the decision is disgusting. Goodbye, Catholic church.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • tx4ever

      leaving now? This has always been the Church doctrine. I think you're full of it

      February 10, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Jared

      Uh, I hate to break this to you, but the policy against contraception is nothing new for the Catholic church. They are just trying to make sure they government doesn't impose something on them that they don't believe in. The first amendment protects the church from the government,

      February 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  5. Joe

    Bruce Williams – The entire American economy is a complete fiction created to organize a society so that goods can be traded. But in the end it's evolved into a systematic means of control of production. So currency is a trading standard but in reality all currency is backed not by gold, but by something associated with work that produces something. So every dollar has no value except that people have no choice but to use the system that now dominates our society. SO YES NOTHING IS FREE, BUT IT'S A LITTLE LATE FOR THE RICH TO SAY NOTHING IF FREE BECAUSE EVERY DOLLAR IS A VALUE THAT WAS TAKEN FROM SOMEONE ELSES WORK!!!!! WHICH MEANS IF YOU EXAMINE CERTAIN FACTS YES EVERYTHING HAS A COST, BUT YOU CANNOT SAY THAT EVERY PERSON IS NOT PAYING BECAUSE EVERYONE WORKS. We've just created a system of rules that limit everyone's education, pay scale, etc etc SO THAT BEING SAID

    Yes everything has a cost, but that doesnt mean the current economic model means its cost any group. Some things have been bought & paid for by all generations!!!!!!! Like Medical research, we pay for billions of dollars every year!!!!! But every time they come up with a new treatment we pay exorbitant prices for it!!!!!!!!

    SO COST IS A RELATIVE ISSUE!!!!!

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

    The government has absolutely NO right to force any religious places to provide anything for the employees against their faith! They want seperation of church and state, then keep it and shut up

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

      @Steve, any company has the duty to provide certain benefits to their employees. Why should a "religious" employer be treated different than a secular one ?

      February 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  7. tx4ever

    the Church and every God loving citizen does more to help the needy then this President and his liberal base will ever in their lifetime

    February 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
      Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
      Prayer dulls your senses.
      Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
      Prayer makes you hoard cats.
      Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Prayer is completely ineffective.
      Prayer wastes time.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • J.W

      There are many Christians who are God loving and also liberal.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  8. george of the jungle

    You can't please everyone. this has more to do with politics and the repos keep it stirred up. Would not hear a word from them if it was directed at a non christian group. Women need to band togeather and get rid of the repo clowns.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  9. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on solutions to their problems.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  10. tstorm

    I left the Cahotlic religion for the very reason that the church tries to dictate too much how the rest of us should live our lives. No thanks. Most Catholics don't follow what the pope dictates anyway because it's so ridiculous, and even dangerous, his beliefs would cause much more harm than good to familes and individuals.

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

      you are missing the point. Yes many catholics use birth-control. But its their choice to do so. What we object to is the government getting between me and the church and making the decision for us.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • tx4ever

      the Church certainly does not need you but will welome you back. God Bless

      February 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • J.W

      You are still able to choose whether or not you want to use these services. The government will not force you.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  11. Anne

    Not a compromise, but a rationalization. We will pay for it one way or the other as long as we are forced to buy insurance. Doesn't matter whether I use the product/service or not (another rationalization, so don't suggest it). I still am forced to pay into the pot that pays for it.

    Why not give an option to exclude this coverage, for the buyer? If it is so popular, there should be enough people to cover it if they really want to use it.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  12. Last Prolife Democrat Standing

    This is nothing more than a initial backdoor precedent for the Obama administration mandating "free" insurance company coverage for abortion services. Where can I opt out of BIG BROTHER smugly jamming this into my face? Where O where did the Hyde Amendment go?

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

      agree. this was a HUGE overreach that isn't really a bout birth control. ITs about big government.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Anne

      Finally, someone I can agree with here! I bet the abortion industry is just chomping at the bit, salivating at what is to come.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • wes

      what kills me as a young female is the reaction in congress from the democrat woman. How insulting, saying its the republicans fault. and we want to harm woman. Debbie Waserman Shultz is vile. She has to have a man part.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  13. NJ

    JUST BECAUSE FEW CATHOLIC PRIEST HAVE ABUSED SOME YOUNG BOYS DOES NOT MEAN ALL MILLIONS OF PRIEST WOULDWIDE HAVE DONE SO ! Shame on you guys and ridiculous. This is only to show your hatred

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

      @NJ seriously! YOU MAKE ME SICK. after what the churches have done. Raping millions of children. Twisting their minds making them believe that it's okay. And then to get on here and try to defend their actions lets me know you are the exact same slime as they are. I think you are vile, disgusting, and a poor excuse for a human being. You should be ashamed of yourself, and your leaders. You are just as perversive as they. You're sick!

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

      @NJ: tjhat sounds like a lot of the NAZIs after WWII who claimed that they personally didn't send any Jews to the concentration camps and that these atrocities were committed only by a few. Does that absolve them ? I don't think so. If you know what's going on and you don't do anything about it, than, at least you are guilty by association.
      Everybody in the catholic church is very well aware what's going on, yet, nobody really does anything about it.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  14. Vivian Nola

    I am Catholic and attended Catholic school all of my life, including law school. Whatever happened to the idea of Separation of Church and State? The insurance companies should offer the coverage and if the employees (Catholic and non-Catholic alike because all of the employees are by no means Catholic, not even in New Orleans where I am from, which is a very Catholic city) wish to avail themselves of the privileges of all of their benefits by getting contraception, then so be it. Those that don't want it, don't get it. Simple.
    The church also should have to pay taxes. I just don't understand the need for the exemption in this day and age, especially in light of the doctrine of Separation of Church and State.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • J.W

      Because churches rely on donations. They do not receive money for a good or service. It is not just that government favors religion. It is because of how it is operated.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  15. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Ex Atheist

      The reason why I left Atheism and converted to Islam.....

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

      Stop trolling and acting like a 8 year old homeless boy. Stop making us Atheists be more hated and distruted

      February 10, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Seriously?

      "Stop trolling and acting like a 8 year old homeless boy. Stop making us Atheists be more hated and distruted"

      There's another Troll doing the same thing for the xtians.

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

      We're lauging at them and making them feel stupid... that doesn't mean we should be arrogant and do the same back. If someone jumps off from the bridge doesn't mean we should do the same

      February 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  16. Go Go Romney / Sontorum

    Bye Bye Obama......

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

      god nuts need to go away

      February 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • tstorm

      Watch what you wish for or you too, can be liiving under the American Taliban known as the extreme right wing Republican party.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  17. everymom

    "It'll be devastating with Catholics," he said, arguing that the president has "shown what he really believes." – This might have already been covered, so if i am repeating others, I apologize.
    Was this guy kidding? I can count the Catholics i know who DON"t use birth control on two hands.
    Talk about not being in touch with your fellow catholics.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  18. Shanika

    America is a Christian country so I don't understand why people are angry? Listen to the churches and SHUT UP

    NO, don't tell me Jefersson cr*p thing... he believed in Christ.
    Seperation of church and state is all BS

    February 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world, as stupid as Shanika.
      Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
      Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
      Prayer dulls your senses.
      Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
      Prayer makes you hoard cats.
      Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Prayer wastes time.

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

      No, USA is not Xtian .. not by law, not by practice. God nuts need to shut up.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • dabble53

      Feel free to move to another country where church and state are NOT separate. How about Saudi Arabia? Or maybe Afghanistan?
      The founding fathers were of different faiths and understood the perilous problems of mixing religion and politics.
      But remember, this country was NEVER a xtian (or any other) kind of religious country.
      Freedom of religion applies to ALL religions, not just YOUR religion. I'm all for putting religion into politics, as long as its MY religion.

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

      Actually seperation of church & state is not B-S. It was one of the fundamental reasons on which the country was founded. However, like all things in life the religious sect has twisted and magled the law to the point that it is not recognized. They don't want to be taxed but they want to push their views into every aspect of life. They want prayer in public schools, not just their church schools. They want to control what people do with their bodies, simply because of their belief. They want to dictate public policy, again without being liable for taxes on the McMansion sancuaries the build.

      The religious sect is simply full of hypocracy. Hospitals and schools operate under licenses granted by the state. It would be like saying they don't have to submit to health & safety inspections because of "religious beliefs". They can't continue to want seperation from government yet dictate all of the policies to government.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • perrrob

      I'm sure you would love living in Iran.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  19. What???

    This is The United States of America, not Vatican City. The Catholic Church has no authority to deny the Rights of any American citizen, Catholic or otherwise.

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

      And the government doesn't have the right to tell churches what to believe or force them to do something against their beliefs.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • tx4ever

      since when are abortion pills a Right of every citizen to be paid by the Church or any company.

      February 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  20. tx4ever

    The one thing I learned about Obama over the last 3 years...He's a complete LOSER and way over his head. 4 and done.

    February 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Stephen Daugherty

      The one thing I've learned about many commenters is that they have no real idea of what "in over their heads" actually means. On an unrelated note, did you vote for Bush, by any chance?

      February 10, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
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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.