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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. really?

    Sorry that was supposed to be "pro-deather" god or auto correct must have changed it. I tend to believe it was auto correct feature of my phone. But im sure the bible thumpers in here would believe, that I just had a godly intervention. Lol

    February 10, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
  2. really?

    Im not a pro-feather, (I have doubts to that being an actual word).
    Anne however you've made it perfectly clear you're pro-child molesting (sinse we're making words up). How can you support such a vile act? Are you too a pedophile?

    February 10, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • RevMum

      I'm sure she's no more pro-pedophile than you are pro-death! Let's give each other a break... 🙂

      February 10, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  3. BADGUY

    Previously, Archbishop (soon Cardinal) Dolan called legal action against the Catholic Church on the Pedophile issue a "Witch Hunt"...This guy is a "no bones about it" Right winger....AND....He is THE spokesman for the Catholic Church in America. I guess the (ex-Nazi soldier) Pope wanted a man of "like thinking" to represent HIS interestd in America. Dolan IS a threat to our Republic!

    February 10, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • RevMum

      He's not a threat. He's a little out to lunch, it seems, and appears to have a rather breathtaking lack of the humility to which we are supposed to aspire. But let's not demonize folk.

      I agree it's pretty appalling to have to have a celibate male, with no wife nor daughters nor intimate understanding of family life, hold forth on something like contraception and rule upon it's availability for others. WOuld that he and his company had acted with equal alacrity when the little ones in the church were being abused. No one can blame you for your scorn, really, it's understandable.

      But this guy is just another flawed human like everyone else, trying to do the best he can with what he understands to be so. A lot of good people are in that same boat, if you look around. Let's give one another the benefot of the doubt, and try to work through this with respect.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  4. Jimh77

    AS FAR AS, Sorry, I have bandaides on fingers, As far as I am concerned the Catholics can go scratch their a$$. This has nothing to do with serious religion. Only you Cathgolics that believe in the wrong stuff. Nuff said, don't want to start a Bible decathelon at this time of night. I am too old for that now. Mnt sr Jm.

    February 10, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • RevMum

      Well, tho I don't much align with the scratching comment, I'll say you have an EXCELLENT point about one thing for sure.

      This has nothing to do with serious religion.

      It has to do with politics. And power. And frightened people trying to mold the world around them into forms they are comfortable with, so they won't be so scared. And sincere people trying to serve the God that has been described to them. And sincere people trying to do the best for the people of their country. And sincere people trying to lead people they feel to be in their spiritual charge. And idiots. And the angry and manipulated. And the media. And political vultures. And...well..lots of things.

      But as you say, very little is about serious religion.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  5. Martha

    The leadership of the catholic church and all religion who does not support the President compromise should shut up and start paying taxes on the income and all churches need to start contributing to this society, I do not want any one dictated me on what I need to do with my body.

    February 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • RevMum

      I don't want anyone dictating to you about your body either, and I'm in a church – trust me, they do actually do a lot of good.

      Not here, I'll admit. But in places most people don't see.

      February 10, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  6. BADGUY

    So I guess the Catholic Church feels it doesn't have to follow our laws if it doesn't want to. WOW!

    February 10, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • Jkimo75

      Good call they believe they can do what they want, look at how they handled the priest that were pedophiles.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • RevMum

      Well, speaking strictly as an American, I really do think it is a good idea to carve out certain special things as secularly sacred: the right of individual conscience, for instance, the right of privacy, of worship, the right to live the life you feel called to, the right to say what we think. Something as big as the Law of a land as large as this must surely work best with some flexibility to accomodate the genuine needs of a free people.

      I think this outcome of preserving the access to contraceptive care while allowing a church to observe it's beliefs is a good one.

      February 10, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  7. McMillian

    I don't know why man's heart continue to make a mockery of God's love for him

    February 10, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Please enlighten us all as to how...oh, fck it.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  8. Sirned

    Please repeat this stat to your Christian friends. 67% of all money that go to Catholic Charites comes from the Government...

    February 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • RevMum

      Yep, but that does a WHOLE LOT of really good work – work which the govenment does not have to do, and which they can usually do better anyhow. Homeless shelters, battered women's refuges, hospitals, soup kitchens, tutoring centers...lots of good things. That money really does not go to any for-profit enterprise at all. It's a good thing. And in case you haven't figured it out, I'm not Catholic myself, so, no axe to grind as I say that!

      February 10, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  9. really?

    Most of you claiming to be religious, your just racist, anti-gay bigots, who wouldn't know Jesus if he smacked you in the face! Stop using fairytaled religion to invoke your prejudices!

    February 10, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • RevMum

      Oh, "really?"....please

      The Jesus whose teachings we seek to follow would not recognize the religions that have been crafted in His name, much of the time.

      Faith is a real thing, and it's kind and strong and brave and inexplicable – and most especially loving. I understand that's not always visible to the naked eye, especially when these things explode across the media or get politicized as they are here.

      Please know that relifgion is really not about malevolence and anger and vitriol, and seeking the imposition of its own way upon others. Nor are most of the religious folk whose you'd otherwise be talking with. Please try to keep an open mind in all this – as I would hope others would do for you as well.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Upright Ape

      Hmm. Rev, try telling that to gay teens committing suicide in Minnesota.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • really?

      Sorry but im not like you. You see, your words to me about your religion are empty. I've seen what your churches have done. Raping children, women, burning women on the cross in the name of witchery! Denying blacks civil liberty from insane translations of your scripture. And now they are trying the same thing with gay people. And preventing women from getting birth control. You and your religion are pathetic! So dont tell me how you so called god seekers are decent loving people, save that BS for your flock. Im not blind, I know how your sick organization works. I just wish you wouldn't follow it!

      February 10, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  10. BADGUY

    And I should worry about MUSLIM Sharia Law?

    February 10, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  11. RevMum

    Ann, just because "really?" tells people to stay out of her womb, it does not follow that she is "pro-death".

    I'm a grandmother, and I wouldn't want anyone in my womb, either, thankyouverymuch, nor my daughter's...which certainly does not qualify me as "pro death", either.

    February 10, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • RevMum

      I can't believe I just wrote that sentence – ludicrous, tragic, and downright funny, simultaneously. Who would have thought that the day would come when a grandmother might feel called to write, "I wouldn't want anyone in my womb, either". Part of me wants to laugh and part of me is aghast that some perople feel such things to be within their purview to discuss.

      Just underscores the fact that some things are just too personal, too private to the be a fit subject for public discussion. Or interference.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  12. John+

    There is no compromise with Satan. The Church of our Lord Jesus Christ will not compromise, will not obey the lie being formed by this generation. She will not pay for evil, in any form, not even when it enters through the backdoor of his home. What is evil to uphold, is evil in all forms, do not accept it otherwise. (Even if you look with lust, yet you sin.)

    February 10, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • abcdxyz

      Well, John, it seems to me the Church has paid plenty for the evils perpetrated on innocent children by many of its priests. I hope the Catholic church goes bankrupt paying its victims!

      February 10, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Concerned Lutheran

      John+ This is all great and provocative, but too many people make cryptic statements like yours. What exactly are these lies?

      February 10, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • BAffled

      What in tarnation are you talking about?

      February 10, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  13. Independent

    I am pro life and anti ignorant religious people who make pro life seem like only an argument from dumb religious nuts. I am pro life and atheist. There are reasonable non religious philosophical arguments for being pro life and protecting sentient unborn.

    February 10, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  14. I HAVE THE RUNS REAL HARD

    I have never met an intelligent atheist. Their religion is the worst. The religion of atheism.

    February 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • PROCEED WITH CAUTION

      February 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Spam, spam, spam, spam, SPAM!Spam, spam, spam, spam, SPAMSpam, spam, spam, spam, SPAMSpam, spam, spam, spam, SPAMSpam, spam, spam, spam, SPAMSpam, spam, spam, spam, SPAMSpam, spam, spam, spam, SPAM!Spam, spam, spam, spam, SPAMSpam, spam, spam, spam, SPAMSpam, spam, spam, spam, SPAMSpam, spam, spam, spam, SPAMSpam, spam, spam, spam, SPAMSpam, spam, spam, spam, SPAM!Spam, spam, spam, spam, SPAMSpam, spam, spam, spam, SPAMSpam, spam, spam, spam, SPAMSpam, spam, spam, spam, SPAMSpam, spam, spam, spam, SPAM!

      February 10, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • really?

      Then maybe you should pray your runs away! That probably won't work however, 'cuz im sure Jesus wouldn't go anywhere near you stinky butt! and athiest dont have a religion, as being athiest means to be without religion. But your so piously religious you can't see how anyone could be without some form of religion, huh? thats like saying a vacuum is empty air! Get outta my womb, and shut the door!

      February 10, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer changes lives
    Pray without ceasing in 2012

    February 10, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • JT

      Yet again, we pray you will stop pasting this same comment on every page of every blog but it never stops, proving that prayer does not work. As always, thanks for that confirmation.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      Atheism isn't healthy for children and other living things .

      February 10, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh sure. Cuz prayer has surely improved the lives of children who are starving, abused, and neglected, right?

      Do tell us all exactly HOW.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • just sayin

      A prayerful suggestion or two
      Call childrens services to get help for tom toms family
      Take up a collection to allow tom tom proper contraception or sterilization to ease the concerns for it

      We could all take up a collection so that tom toms children would not be suffering like that

      February 10, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Concerned Lutheran

      Not really polite to bring up someone's children even on an anonymous blog, just sayin.

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

      Aww, aren't you sweet, justlyin? What a great Christian you are. I'll bet Jesus is just beaming at your comments, isn't he?

      Gotcha again, hypocrite.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • just sayin

      oxymoron : polite / tom tom

      February 10, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      oxyMORON=justlyin'.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • just sayin

      tom tom you don't care about your family why should anyone else?

      February 10, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If prayer worked, justsayin' wouldn't have fingers with which to type her/his/its bullspit.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Who said anyone else "should care about" my family, you moronic hillbilly?

      February 10, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If justspittin'stupid were any dumber, we'd have to water it.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hey, just dumberthandirt, what do you know about anyone else's family? I'd love to hear your theories. Go ahead and tell everyone what your conjectures are.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      (tapping foot waiting for justlyin' to look up 'conjectures' in dictionary currently being used as doorstop.)

      February 10, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      (tapping foot waiting for justlyin' to grow a brain that is sufficiently functional to figure out where door is located.)

      February 10, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      (bored with tapping foot waiting for justlyin' to grow a brainstem. Going to go have hot s2x with husband. Hoping justlyin' gets a good u for once in her/his/its life.)

      February 10, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
  16. John+

    (If you say you know Jesus and accept him as your Lord and Savior, then you hear, understand and accept his words. You are either with th Lord, or against Him, you must choose.)

    The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickednessp of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness. For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.

    While claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes. Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies.

    They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

    Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper. They are filled with every form of wickedness, evil, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite.

    They are gossips and scandalmongers and they hate God. They are insolent, haughty, boastful, ingenious in their wickedness, and rebellious toward their parents. They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

    February 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Anna

      CAN'T HATE SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T EXIST YOU FUQUETARD.

      February 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Anna nails it in one sentence. John couldn't make an argument if he wrote 100 times as much.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • just sayin

      John is right Anna is wrong changes the whole perspective a bit.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Concerned Lutheran

      Hmm... What if Anna's a pretty decent sort, just sayin. Paul did go on a bit some times.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:21 pm |

    • sometimes

      February 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If the moron named justsayin' approves of it, it's shi te from the get-go.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • BAffled

      Where's the evidence to back up all your claims?

      February 10, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  17. MacMaven

    Amazing that people still allow their children around Catholic church bishops and clergy, after all of the pedaphilia and violations of trust that the Pope has simply swept under the rug. You are a fool and deserve what happens to you if you subject your child to that risk.

    February 10, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  18. Deputy Don

    Wow, it's truly amazing that people who consider themselves Christians can post statements like Ann's above. Ann, you may wish to spend a little more time actually reading the bible and consider the implications of attempting to speak on God's behalf.

    There are far too many people commenting on this page who are profane, uneducated, and mean spirited. On both sides of the debate. You all need to grow up.

    February 10, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Anna

      SHUT UP

      February 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Concerned Lutheran

      Well it is Friday and it's been a long week, so people are entitled to unwind a bit.

      February 10, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Sharpman

      I will say that Anna's argument against this post was solid. High five for that one. I literally laughed out loud

      February 10, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Sharpman

      I will say that Ann's argument against this post was solid. High five for that one. I literally laughed out loud

      February 10, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What will reading the bible do for anyone who doesn't believe that it was written by anyone but fallible men? When will you morons figure out that your bible isn't proof or evidence of a single thing?

      And when will you figure out that no woman has to live according to your supersti tions and have kids if she doesn't want them?

      If you're so offended by contraception, then do your part and keep your friggin' d!ck in your pants, bub.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • ImReady

      I didn't see Anna post that she claimed to be Christian. Why do you instantly associate a comment that you don't like with "being a Christian?" You're the one that needs to check yourself.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "needs to check yourself...into a mental hospital." There, I fixed it for ya.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  19. Rob

    Contraception or self interest. It's like a pyramid scheme. Mary or lets say jane has a child born into a catholic family and become catholic. Then their children have children and their children have children and so on and so forth. Now that collection plate has become quit big and the lads in Rome are happy campers. Talk of contraception comes in and heaven forbid the chain shows some signs of cracking, not good. So you see the political involvement is required. If you don't believe me send a SASE and include 10 maybe 20 percent of your income to the Church of Monetary Gain PO box $$$ , I"ll be on Easy St. I don't limit my donations to just Catholics this applies to all religions?

    February 10, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • really?

      Exactly!

      February 10, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • JT

      It's not just about money. Just think of all the future children they will be raping.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
  20. Ann

    You will not get to heaven when you die, IF you vote for Obama! That is the truth.

    February 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • really?

      Thats the dumbest thing I've ever heard! Did you get that from scripture?

      February 10, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • really?

      Ann! Get the fuk outta my womb! And shut the door!

      February 10, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Rob

      Omg you are joking right? Please tell me your joking

      February 10, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Concerned Lutheran

      If I go to heaven after voting for one of the current crop of Republicans I won't be able to look anyone in the eye. You realize this puts people in a bind.

      February 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • poopmeister

      So Ann, which Republican candidate are you going to dance in hell with? Rich people that don't care about the poor are going straight to hell, didn't you get that memo?

      February 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • deb

      surely you can't seriously believe that? And just for tickles, do those insurance policies cover levitra, viagra, or cialis? Maybe tier three?

      February 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Txgrl3

      Ann honey I'm so sorry you were so obviously subjected to intense fear and shame brainwashing disguised as religion. Grew up in bible saw exactly how it's done, with the most intense brainwashing occurring preadolescence as ability to reason is developing. Genesis: Adam and Eva ate the fruit of the tree of wisdom and God punished them. Doesn't get any clearer: "Dont think too much, don't get an education, so we can tell you what do think." So Ann your religious instruction was a resounding success.

      February 10, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Sharpman

      People saying stuff like this (what Ann said) is a small part of why people are beginning more and more to dislike religion. God never said that and I know Jesus didn't either. God isn't a being that hates people. He put Barack Obama on this Earth and loves him as equally as he loves you. Or so the churches of Christianity say.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • DragonPat1

      Wouldn't want to go to any heaven your in since it would be HELL. What a nut!

      February 10, 2012 at 10:36 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.