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. really?

    Get outta my womb, and close the door!

    February 10, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Ann

      Hey "really??" Are u pro-death? WOW.

      February 10, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Are you "pro-stupidity"? WOW! See how that works?

      February 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  2. Sharpman

    If the Catholic Church is in a business and has thousands of employees of different cultures and religions, it has a responsibility to follow the laws of our government. The government is not forcing Catholics to take contraceptives. It is treating Catholic hospitals as what they are, a business. Following the teachings of your church is your business and your right. Let me say it again, no one is forcing Catholics to take contraceptives. ALL businesses follow ALL laws. None of you people will know whether I am Catholic, protestant, Jewish, atheist, black, white, red, rich, poor, or anything else. It's no ones business. This is government, or rather that's the way it should be.

    February 10, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  3. really?

    People really need to get a grasp on religions around the world. Its such an out dated and dangerous theology. This is exactly why all these Muslim countries are at constant war. Their countries being ran by religious idiots.
    What's even more suckie! Is that these very wealthy religious leaders dont adhere to the same rule and restrictions they put on the masses! Stop the madness! Tax the churches! And put them behind us!

    February 10, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  4. Jerri

    I think we should just make it law that all Catholics and Evangelicals aren't allowed to have se.x before age 65, and then only with someone older. Properly enforced, that would make a lot of our problems go away, in time.

    February 10, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • really?

      I think if you want to be a religious leader, you should be castrated! That would solve alot as well!

      February 10, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  5. Johnny

    I believe everyone has the right to make choices,if the churchs feel so they can make the same choices. But I wish those in a postion of control would remember this small thing. Science is not your enemy, please quit trying to regulate it, and let people make the choice for themselves, or do you not remember the words of your Parents and Jesus.

    February 10, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  6. Redstick Rep

    The number of hypocritical, callous, & mean-spirited comments from the Left on this blog is shocking. You people are so blinded with hate, yes hate, for your fellow Americans that y'all should be ashamed of yourselves. I'm quite sure many of you came here as paid trolls, but the rest of you have no excuse. Just remember, anonymity is all that protects y'all from slander lawsuits. Many of you talk of sheeple, but you fail to see it on your own side; it has been on full display here on this blog. The regulation that would have become law, until today's reversal, was so blatantly hostile to religious freedom that over time it would have up-ended 200+ years of US law; that I can not & will never accept so long as I breathe.

    February 10, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • bingbaddabing

      Is this your manifesto? Are we at risk?

      February 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • really?

      I can tell from your name that your super religious!
      Is that what you have your little boys call it? The "redstick"?
      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 8:57 pm |
    • censorcommunists

      I see CNN now has a computer censor. If you post more than one comment that presents anything near the same point, it blocks you even if you have never commented on the issue before. I am seeing this more and more. Now I know what the net experts mean when they warn about censorship of the internet. Bye folks, I am a free man, I have rights, and I will not let CNN decide what I can or cannot post. I have the right to express my views. GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH! You people that post here are just weak pathetic lemmings and suckers.
      Ted Turner? A pathetic drunk.

      February 10, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • tony

      Leave our born innocent children alone. Take your tooth fairly nonsense and stick it up just your own – – – –

      February 10, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • tony

      Shooting an abortion surgeon saving a womans life and his young lady receptionist is the height of hate driven by absolute ignorance and arrogance. Religious belief is the source of all evil. They even invented the word.

      February 10, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post contains a variety of common fallacies and other logical flaws, including the ad hominem and circu-mstantial ad hominem fallacies.


      February 10, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Flinders, the butler

      censor communists,
      it's the proof of intelligent design...I don't see how it happened, so it must be god...see below

      February 10, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Flinders, the butler

      censor communists,
      it's the proof of intelligent design...I don't see how it happened, so it must be god.
      so much for that idea

      February 10, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Redstick Rep

      Laughter is fine bingbaddabing, but meanness disgusts me.

      @Really?: You are the one with the dirty mind. Try translating "red stick" into French. It's the name of a town you _____.

      @Fallacy Spotting 101: Going after my last sentence huh? You're so busy looking for fallacies, etc. that you missed a key phrase: "over time". Ever heard the phrase "a slippery slope". Try warning people about the bigoted posts further down the page first. You'd get more sympathy. I ran out of patience.

      February 10, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • The Phist

      Religion is hostile.

      If it were banned, we wouldn't have this problem of sand-in-vagina syndrome.

      February 10, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • The Phist

      Bigoted posts? Oh man. Want to talk about bigotry now? Open your bible and read. Want to know why gays still don't have the same rights as the rest of us? INTOLERANCE FROM CHRISTIANS. It's nothing new really. You know they used to burn people alive for thinking they were witches right?

      February 10, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • manhandler

      Oh, Puuuuuuleeze....are you kidding me with that tripe? Everyone knows the haters are on the extreme right. Hating on gays, hating on immigrants, hating on anyone that isn't like them and hating for the sake of hating. The republican party has always played to the worst in people to get votes. They've always played on peoples fears. It's already been proven that the far right attracts the intellectually challenged.

      February 10, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by Redstick Rep contains instances of the ad hominem fallacy and the Argument from Outrage fallacy.


      February 10, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • really?

      I've got the dirty mind? Im not the one in here defending pedophiles, or the leaders who covered it up! Don't get upset just cuz i called you out on it! It takes a sick man to try to defend such actions! Feeling well?

      February 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Redstick Rep

      @The Phist: Trying to sniff hypocracy are we? Try elsewhere.

      @manhandler: I'm not here to address your opinions about the "extreme right". That's clearly misdirection. All one has to do is scroll down & click the previous pages to see the leftist haters for what they are & you know it. Should they be censored? Absolutely not. I want people to see them for who they are, & I will not let the debasement stand without some response.

      February 10, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Redstick Rep

      @Fallacy Spotting 101: There is a word limit in place that prevents long posts, thus I could not elaborate further in my original post. Everything prior to my last sentence (including my outrage) was my opinion & it had no bearing on the legal stance I took in the last sentence. Will you now require me to include legal citations, or are we done with this non-sense?

      February 10, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  7. bingbaddabing

    The Catholic church teaches that if you use a condom or pull our before you (you know0 that you are going to burn in hell. This comes from the middle ages when they needed more solidiers and serfs.
    I reallly don't care what they think now.

    February 10, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • concerned

      The catholic church does not believe in contraception for the simple fact that it undermines the dignity of women. All the pill is intended to do is enable men to indulge in their lust and use women. The orginal feminists knew this and was why they were against contraception. Also, it is not truthful to say that this is a health issue...it's not....it's a lifestyle decision.

      February 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  8. humberto

    Obama is going to cut military spending by 480 bilion dollars over ten years, Wow, people that work, he cuts out.

    February 10, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • bingbaddabing

      The cold war is over. Get over it Gingrich.

      February 10, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  9. elle

    NO ONE IS FORCING ANY OF YOU TO BE CATHOLIC. If you don't like this Religion, find something else that you feel is better for you. Some of us believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, Mother Mary and the Holy Spirit. I am tired of reading what has been Catholics have to say.

    February 10, 2012 at 8:50 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 perversive as they. You’re a sick freak. You need to stand up for human rights. And stop whining about your pathetic church!

      February 10, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • The Phist

      Your last sentence doesn't make any sense.

      Furthermore, if you'd like people to stop berating the catholic cult, then perhaps it would be within the catholic cult's best interest to get the hell off the planet. You see, it interferes with lots of things. This is what cults do. They try to impose their beliefs on everyone else. So, take your precious little imaginary friends, and leave.

      February 10, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  10. Nathan

    Why should anyone be forced to give abortafacient contraceptives to any one else? Some of the anti-Catholic bigotry in this comment section are just plain moronic

    February 10, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • really?

      Your moronic!
      its the Catholics that dont want to allow contraception. And make everyone live by their 2000 year old rules! Totally pathetic!

      February 10, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  11. Jonathan

    This is not a compromise. There can be no compromise. Take back the attack on the freedom of religion or see what happens.

    February 10, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • The Phist

      Religion attacks everyone. You're uneducated.

      February 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Deputy Don

      You're not being asked to compromise on your beliefs as to how they affect you. However, your rights end where mine begin and I will not stand by while narrow minded bigots make threats that affect me and my family. Your statement makes you no better than the Taliban.

      February 10, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
  12. como1

    I really don't give a ##*@ Charlotte what the majority of you libs are saying now Obama has to atone and apologize for lying to Dolan a year ago.

    February 10, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • The Phist

      Your statement is moronic.

      February 10, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • really?

      Your just fuk*n stupid!

      February 10, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  13. really?

    Church = brainwashing!

    February 10, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  14. Woody

    I was an altar boy and at some point and time Catholics are going have have to deal with the realities of life . I was born to a family that could not afford to give up a percentage of their salary to send us beyond grade school to a catholic school . The reality is the catholic religion caters to the wealthy but is very willing to take from the poor . In the 1960's I went to a catholic school where there were no african americans admitted . You have the freedom to be any religion you want as long as you have the money to support your church . Anybody can be a catholic . But everyone can not afford to go to a catholic school ! There is more unfairness in the Catholic religion than any other I have ever seen . Reality is reality but others are scared to death to drive a beat up pickup truck to a Catholic mass in America . Churches are as corrupt as politics and religion too is all about power and prestige ! Most Christians do not even know Jesus was a poor son of a carpenter and was not white as portrayed on the cross where I went to a catholic church . And Jesus was born on the continent of Asia at Asia Minor . Lucky for me I have now traveled the world , and sailed the Nile in Egypt . And understand reality and the world is many billions of years old. Man has been on the planet for at least one million years . And religion as we know it today and our God is but 2000 years old . The World we call earth was here long before Jesus or our today God . And Our today God can not be a he , because to be a he you have to be human . And Jesus was not God !

    February 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • elle

      No, Jesus was given to us as man. He ascended into Heaven and is God now. Might as well hang yourself as to dismiss Jesus.

      February 10, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • The Phist

      elle, something tells me you haven't heard of the tomb that was found a few decades ago and made public in 2007. It contained the bodies of Joseph, Mary, Mary Magdaline, Jesus, and their kid. Yes, bodies. They're all dead. Including jesus.

      Where is your god now?

      February 10, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  15. Snooper

    If the Catholics addressed the child molesters properly and sternly they have some respect. Instead they deserve none.

    February 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • really?

      Properly and sternly? Really?
      Hiding it for hundreds/thousands of years. Covering it up, protecting the pedophiles, and turning blind eyes to victims! Thats your idea of properly, and sternly handling the situation. Please tell me 2where you work so I can point you out to my kids, so they can't ever go near your dumb azz!

      February 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  16. Debbie

    I want the Catholic Church out of my bedroom and out of my government. Pushing their doctrine infringes upon my religious rights. The Catholic Church a soverign nation is meddling in American government. If Iran was doing that everyone would be up in arms. Make no mistake the Catholic Church is a government.

    February 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Marion

      I totally concur! Who the hell are the friggin bishops? Get them them out of my uterus!!

      February 10, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  17. phuuckallcatholics

    Don't let the Pope (poop) run America. Arrest all catholic clergy. Try them for treason. Make them eat puuusssy and sell all church property.

    February 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  18. phuuckallcatholics

    Phuuuck the catholic church. Keep your filthy, stinking, evil, grubby little perverted hands out of the pants of american women (and little boys).

    February 10, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Rich

      Here's how this works: They have given contraceptives to get votes by going around the religious. Vote for them. Now they will give you abortions. Vote for them. Now they will give you boob jobs and Botox and guaranteed income and vacations and education. Vote for them and you will and they will own you because you are secularism and hate mongers. They then will tell you where, when and why you vote for them. And they will destroy the religions and minorities and they will own you! Fool.

      February 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • really?

      Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia?

      February 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  19. D-Nice

    Oh great one more thing to bicker about. This is nothing but a GOP distraction to divert people's attention away from the fact that the GOP led house has done absolutely nothing to stimulate job growth in this country in the last year. Please fill me in on how arguing about birth control puts people back to work.

    February 10, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Jonathan

      An attack on the religious freedom of even one group (Their First Amendment Right) is more important that putting people back to work. No one has the right to work or a right to a job. People have a right to their religion.

      February 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hey, JonJon! Nice to see you make an appearance! Have you figured out how "conscious" is different from "conscience"? Or are you still ignorant?

      How about that difficulty you had with the "result"/"resort" thing, sweetie-kins?

      When you've educated yourself beyond the level of an 8th grade bozo, you can attempt to advise others. Until then, dearie, stick it up your fundament. You don't get to tell others how to live when you're less intelligent than the average mouse.

      February 10, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  20. Andrew

    Get the Sequoias out of your own eyes, bishops...

    February 10, 2012 at 8:14 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.