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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. Sherri

    He should never have caved. They will never be satisfied. This is not about religious freedom , this is about religious power, control and the crushing of anyone and anything in it's way.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Ken in Texas

      Or,,,,,,,,,Obama will never be satisfied. This is not about freedom , this is about power, control and the crushing of anyone and anything in his way. He thinks he knows whats best for everyone so everyone should just bow down and obey.

      Isn't this a more realistic observation of what is happening?

      February 10, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Ken in Texas: What??? He is only doing what he has to...ensuring everyone is treated equally. Don't want to purchase contraceptives-don't...quite simple!

      February 10, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Right....so President Obama is trying to crush everyone under his rule through compromise. Such an underhanded technique.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Flinders, the butler

      Ken, Just like Rick Perry thinks HE knows what's best for everyone. I bet YOU went to his prayer thingy in the stadium ? Did you b'i't'ch about that ?

      February 10, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  2. Really?

    George Bush: "I don't consider atheists be citizen, this is one nation under God"

    February 10, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Wow...pretending to be someone else-HOW MATURE!!! Bush could not have said that or he would have been in violation of the consti.tution you stupid ass!!!

      February 10, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  3. Prayer made the passenger pigeon extinct.

    It was a lovely creature.
    Now it's gone.
    Say NO to prayer!!!

    February 10, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • .

      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...

      February 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • be careful

      Passenger pigeons were called sky rats.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Jesus

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

      You're post reeks of judgment and lies, satan be gone or burn in hell!

      February 10, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  4. InObamaTheyTrust

    The article says: James 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. ... Salt said. " There were groups on the call that have a very pro-choice world view and there was no dissent... "

    That's just great. Were any pro-life groups invited to the call? Any groups that agree with the Catholic church's views on contraception? It's nice to know that the Obama administration is only consulting with people who agree with them.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  5. citizenmn

    Nobody should care what the Catholic church thinks on any issue. They are a distorted interpretation of Christianity.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • HC21

      Really? A distorted view from which most (maybe all) other denominations derived?

      February 10, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  6. Really?

    Sorry I'm an ignorant atheist moron. I will seek to God soon 🙂

    February 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  7. Grandma

    I'm so happy not being religious, nor being an atheist. I'm happy being an agnostic 🙂

    February 10, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Wency

      Check it out! While looking tghourh the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here's a quick excerptThe latest color trends forecast released by Pantone shows what they report to be the ten hottest colors for Spring 2008. See the colors and download a copy of the report here…

      April 3, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  8. Prayer gives you a schizoid look in your eyes like Casey Anthony

    It's creepy.
    It ain't cool.
    Say NO to prayer.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • I_get_it

      Yep... I really think that they should pray whilst looking in a mirror, or on a video to replay to themselves.

      February 10, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  9. Confused

    ATHEISTS SHOULD BE BANNED COMMENTING AND LOOKING AT FAITH/RELIGIOUS ARTICLES!

    February 10, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • really?

      Confused... Its your church leaders that makes you think that way. You spew your hatred and claim its in the name of god! True evidence that religious retards the mind!

      February 10, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • us1776

      Atheism is a belief !!

      .

      February 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Confused

      Really?..... I don't even go to church your f...a...g..g..o...t

      February 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • really?

      Ahh! What's the matter pervert? Hurt your god fearing feelings? Suck on this!

      February 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Really? Wouldn't that be taking away a basic freedom? Maybe you've never heard of it...it's called FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      to clarify...that post was directed at Confused...not the person using the alias "really?"

      February 10, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • I_get_it

      Confused
      "ATHEISTS SHOULD BE BANNED COMMENTING..."

      They *are* banned on most of your Christian web sites. Maybe you can search for one and go for a good old-fashioned circle-jerk.

      February 10, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  10. Prayer gives you heel spurs and halitosis

    A limping fanatic with bad breath is not attractive.
    Say NO to prayer.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Thomas

      I hope God punish you and make you blind and deaf INSALLAH KORBANE D ALOHO!!!

      February 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  11. really?

    Athiest are loving, caring, thoughtful people, who love people for who they are, not their religion! the same cannot be said for religious organization Or their followers!

    February 10, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Confused

      Go seek physical doctor..... I know your father was Stalin

      February 10, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Thomas

      Omg you sound exactly like Pol Pot and Joseph Stalin. That's exactly what they said 😀

      February 10, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • really?

      Confused.. Do you know who you father is... Thats right he's the one your sleeping with right? (be a good Christian and dont tell, okay?)
      And Thomas, I think you smoked the pol pot, and are now hallucinating. Come back after a nap.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      If you are hungry, I will feed you.
      If you are thirsty, I will offer water.
      If you are cold, I will offer warmth.
      If you are in need, ask and I will give.
      If you are in trouble, ask and I will offer help.
      I do not do these things in the hopes of being rewarded, or out of fear of being punished.
      I do these things because I know them to be right.
      I set my own standards and I alone enforce them.

      I am an Atheist.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • captain america

      if you confront liar prevails with truth it will curse you out because it is no more than a butt in canadian . Don't count on liar to pi ss on you if you were on fire. There's your sign

      February 10, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • fred

      TruthPrevails
      You seem to have remembered some of the words Jesus spoke confirming that truth does prevail. Your falling away from the truth is clearly revealed in the closing lines:
      “I set my own standards and I alone enforce them.
      I am an Atheist”
      Sounds like Nebuchadnezzar who replaced the truth of God with the pride of man. Although you thump your chest and let out the scream of a howler monkey you are not the king of the jungle and you do not set your own standards. You only enforce them as you see fit. There is one greater than you and he is the standard bearer and will enforce his judgment as he sees fit not as would pleasure you.
      I do not think you are an Atheist because you protest too much. I think you wear the cloak of an atheist to cover the love longing for God that is buried deep inside.

      February 10, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  12. Albert Einstein

    Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly

    February 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • really?

      What did Edison say about the church, or Ben Franklin, or Newton. Tebow? Is that you. Lol nope... Just another crazy religious nut!

      February 10, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Ken in Texas

      That's an interesting statement, if only it were true. Althought that statement has been quoted over and over, Einstein didn't actually use those words. It was first published by Time Magazine in 1940. The Einstein Archives contain an unpublished letter mentioning this topic specifically. Writing to Count Montgelas on March 28, 1947, Einstein explained that early in the Hitler years he had casually mentioned to some journalist that hardly any German intellectuals except a few churchmen were supporting individual rights and intellectual freedom. He added that this statement had subsequently been drastically exaggerated beyond anything that he could recognize as his own.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Also Albert Einstein

      "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. (Albert Einstein, 1954) From Albert Einstein: The Human Side"

      February 10, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  13. smith123

    This isn't any compromise at all. The WH is just putting this out to trick stupid people - people who have no concept of how business works. Businesses don't give out things of value for free. If there is a government mandate to give away contraceptive insurance "for free", the insurance provider will just pass on the cost of that mandate to whomever is paying for the insurance. In other words, the price of the insurance policy will be increased so that it includes the cost of the contraceptive insurance. So, the Catholic church will be paying for contraceptive insurance.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  14. us1776

    Catholicism is the fastest declining religion on the planet !!

    .

    February 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Saliba

      Catholic is a sect of Christianity, not a religion your moron.
      2.2 billion Christians worldwide, and there are more Catholics than non-religious in the world

      February 10, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • deez nuttz

      go eat some bacon dummy

      February 10, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Saliba is right. However there may presently be more christards than there are non-believers but that is steadily changing for the all the right reasons..

      February 10, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • captain america

      'liar' prevails is a butt in canadian. in fact most of the atheistic rhetoric and bull sh it on these blogs is coming from a few disgruntled canadians. Their own national anthem is a prayer and they are running their mouths on US like they have something to say? F'n hypocrites.There's your sign

      February 10, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Ah cappie's here. I was wondering when he was gonna troll on in the forum. You can always count on the pathetic ramblings of cappie though.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • I_get_it

      captain america,

      How does that syrupy Christian line go again?... "You must have been deeply wounded at some time in your life by someone professing to be a Canadian. Poor thing." May a majestic moose heal your bitter heart!

      February 10, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  15. dbrock010

    So BHO can just make a phone call to an insurance company and mandate that they cover certain benefits for free? WTH does this guy think he is? He's acting like a dictator.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Ken in Texas

      Yeah, that's what everyone been saying these past few weeks.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      No, he's enforcing what your damn country stands on...respect for all!!

      February 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  16. Prayer promotes the growth of dangerous bacteria in the genito-urinary tract

    Say no to burning sensations.
    Say NO to prayer.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Saliba

      You atheists are worse than religious people.... omg cannot believe that

      February 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Saliba

      You said, "You atheists are worse than religious people.... omg cannot believe that"

      Did you also get offended by the post below (see link), or the dozens just like it?
      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/10/mixed-catholic-reaction-to-revised-white-house-contraception-plan/comment-page-21/#comment-1020608

      If not, why? If you did, why didn't you reply to that one as well?

      February 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  17. Alina1

    Now, if only Catholic church would stand against Republican "pee in the cup" mandate (in order to apply for unemployment money), I would say "God is out there".
    Republican hypocrisy level gets higher.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  18. In God We Trust. U got it?

    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...

    February 10, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Chaos

      The Bible is right just because it says it is?

      February 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • really?

      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 perverted as they. You’re sick

      February 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • EN Montandon

      You need therapy. Fast! Your spinning towards a mental breakdown and could be a danger to yourself and others. Go to your minister or priest. Now!

      February 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      How enlightening...gotta love when the christards show their own stupidity in full color.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  19. Grandma

    I HATE RELIGIOUS + ATHEITS!!!!!!!

    February 10, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Chaos

      Do you wear your tinfoil hat with the shiny side in or out?

      February 10, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      What is 'ATHEITS'?

      February 10, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  20. Thomas

    Guns don't kill people , Condoms do .

    February 10, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • really?

      Really? I think condoms saves lives. Your thought process brings me and joy. oh!! tidings of comfort and joy!

      February 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Damn, then why wasn't one used to kill you?

      February 10, 2012 at 6:37 pm |

    • Thomas I think you and your friends should read the directions on those condoms. They don't normally kill people. Really, it's easy. Read the directions and practice on a banana or something.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Here this will help - see, not life threatening

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DropvK7sFw&w=480&h=360]

      February 10, 2012 at 6:48 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.