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. Cletus Maggin

    Catholics- May the true God DAMN them ALL to BURN for eternity in the INFINITE PAIN and SUFFERING of HELL!!!!!

    February 11, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  2. Joe

    It's funny to see how many people here are well on their way to Hell, yes, HELL. I just wish i could see their faces at their last judgement, lol, repent your wicked ways, and turn to God thru his holy catholic church.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • really?

      Sorry Joe, you'll never get that satisfaction. Mostly because your a nut that believes in such a place! Put your bible down and educate your self to a better understanding of life!

      February 11, 2012 at 1:56 am |
    • really?

      A.d its very Christian of you to wish to see your fellow men burning to death. Freaking robot!

      February 11, 2012 at 1:57 am |
    • sam

      Hey, if there's an afterlife? As long as I don't end up sharing it with people who think like you, IDGAF where that is.

      February 11, 2012 at 3:18 am |
    • Mirosal

      There was NO concept of a "hell" before X-tianity. A lot of societies had the idea of an afterlife, but none of them had ANY mention of eternal pain, torture, lakes of fire, suffering, etc. It was just a way to instill fear and control among the masses because literacy and education were for the ELITE at that time. People took what was said by "higher-ups" as truth and dared not question it. We know better now, and when we do question, the religious get MAD. Gee, why is that? lol Ever notice that the religious "right" is very seldom, if ever, right?

      February 11, 2012 at 3:27 am |
  3. Ana

    Now I get it- they got their compromise and still aren't happy; because ultimately what they wanted was NOT the freedom to practice their own religious beliefs, but the freedom to IMPOSE their religious beliefs on everyone else.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • Guest

      do u tell other people how to do stuff ever thinking u r correct? So y r imposing ur beliefs on them if u answered yes. Can't anyone see the big pucture or are we u all to focused on urselves and what u think is right? I'm not even catholic... But if the business claims the are catholic and that no contraception is their belief, who r u to question/judge them? It is their right as an american. Simple. Just like it is ur right to take it if u want. And btw, this has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with money. Forcing business to provide this drives up insurancr costs for all people. Its about money.

      February 11, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • really?

      Guest! You're wrong. This is completely about religious organization trying to impose their beliefs on everyone. Its not about none. Think about it. The church wants women to go to clinics to get their birth control. And who will pay for that tax payers! But thats not even the issue. This is about civil rights and Liberties vs the catholic church. If they want to own insurance companies as businesses then they have to abide by business rules. They cant only hire Catholics, they have to hire whoever is qualified, be it a Muslim a new or an athiest. And this is where they cross the line. If they hire an athiest and the athiest wants birth control, it should be made available to them. For they are not catholic and could give a rats azz about Catholics beliefs!

      February 11, 2012 at 1:54 am |
  4. christianbrother

    tax religious groups

    February 11, 2012 at 1:34 am |
  5. Paul F.

    After you show your True Colors, you can try to paint over them (as politicians do), but most people will still see thru the "white wash"... & ask what's next ?

    February 11, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • capeX

      Aren't u ashamed of being proud of these bigoted pastors who are denying health care to women and at the same time raping boys in their churches. Where is our justice you moron, at least the president had the balls to do what is good for the health of his people. Go back to watching fox , and sniffing santorum.

      February 11, 2012 at 1:42 am |
  6. Spence

    This is totally meaningless. If the insurance companies for it, it's still charging premiums based on cost. If the Church doesn't pay for it directly, they pay indirectly by paying higher premiums. What a simple minded fraud.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  7. really?


    February 11, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  8. CNN and Obama are the antichrist

    Everyone will be judged someday. Will you be going to Heaven or Hell for eternity?

    February 11, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • really?

      Ohh! Good god! Really? Is that your strategy? Scare people into voting Republican... Thats so funny. You had to learn that from your church leaders, cuz thats exactly what they do. They even made the little kids afraid to tell there parents what was being done to them by the church leaders. You make me wanna puke!

      February 11, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • really?

      I wish there was a southern airline that would let me buy you a 1 way ticket there. 'cuz I would certainly put you on it!

      February 11, 2012 at 12:52 am |
  9. Brian

    Wonder why people start laughing when they hear the word "Catholic."

    February 11, 2012 at 12:38 am |
  10. Jack

    You who side against the Catholic Bishops do not understand that God's will comes before men and women's short sighted laws. Devoted Catholic Bishop's will give up their lives for what God commands. Politicians are only interested in being re-elected. Obama's anti-catholic attacks on deeply held religious beliefs is wrong and will be a disaster for his electability. Artificial birth control and abortion will never be condoned by real Catholics because it is not a political belief, but a deeply held religious belief that must be respected.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • really?

      98% of catholic women use birth control. I highly doubt it will affect his electability! but what it will do is once again have women rise up against the church as they've done in the past. Remember this isn't the first catholic/women fight on birth control!
      Jesus Fuk*n Christ, put down your bible and read a history book once in awhile!

      February 11, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • really?

      And one more thing there Jackie!
      Have I told you how sick you make me when you try to defend the perverted action of your bishops? and Was It god coming through their mouths, when their mouths were in the pants of children, you freaking perfect excuse for birth control. You are vile and disgusting. I can't believe you would side with such a Hippocratic group!

      February 11, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • pervert bishops

      The pope and bishops should be tried for crimes against children. Never could there be those who stoop as low as these perverts

      February 11, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • ClaudiaL

      We Sisters will not allow Big Brother (be they Bishops or GOP men) to tell us what we can or can't do with our own healthcare. This issue will strengthen President Obama's re-election.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • MADRN

      Where in the Bible or Ten Commandments does God say anything about birth control? It's not there. And it has nothing to do with spilling your seed on the ground either. This is strictly Papal Rule just like not eating meat on Friday was once forbidden. Too bad all those people in hell for eating meat couldn't have stuck around longer to have it absolved 🙁

      February 11, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Cyrus

      You don't know Jack!!

      February 11, 2012 at 1:28 am |
  11. HeIsGod

    Catholics are one of the biggest scheme religion there is all over the world....God has exposed their evil deeds, but yet, too many people are still being blinded by their false doctrines.

    God help them.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  12. HeIsGod

    Catholics shouldn't have a say in this.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • RevMum

      And we shouldn't have a say in their faith. One of the reasons we can tell this is America.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • HeIsGod


      All man to his/her own deeds.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • RevMum

      Nor should we have a say in their belief practices. One of the ways you can tell this is America!

      We're complicated.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • HeIsGod

      RevMum – These people are not even followers of Christ. Christ said, DO NOT be hearers of the Word, but doers as well.'

      If the Catholics are going to preach, they need to begin to live what they preach and teach.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • KnowFirst

      @HelsGod. Know first before you talk, you are showing your ignorance. What do you know about Catholics. You heard the negative things other say about Catholics, and you concluded from there. That is what you call ignorance. I suggest you gather some knowledge first before you post.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • HeIsGod

      KnowFirst......wake up! Get out of religion. God is seeking those who shall worship him in spirit and in truth through a RELATIONSHIP, not a RELIGION, through Chris.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • GP

      HELLSGOD...you are really ignorant...you have not clue on what Catholics believe...you just parrot the words that other ignorant fools presume to know. And who the heck is "Chris"?

      February 11, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • really?

      Lmmfao! Ahhh! I needed that. That was funny! But I would still like to know who the hell Chris is? I dated a guy name Chris, are you talking about that Chris?

      February 11, 2012 at 1:36 am |
  13. Enlightened4

    There was no mixed reaction. The Flip Flop was flatly rejected! Why does CNN blatantly misrepresent the truth is the big question. Maybe they can't read. Showing a picture of the Cardinal which is unrelated to Obama's Flip Flop and the Cardinal is a guise designed to "trick" the public. Shame on you, CNN, You are a sham.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:02 am |
  14. Enlightened4

    There was no mixed reaction. The Flip Flop was flatly rejected! Why does CNN blatantly misrepresent the truth is the big question. Maybe they can't read.

    February 10, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • really?

      Come on now? Enlightened? Really? You so closed minded, a single original thought couldn't make its way in to your brain. You wouldn't know what side to stand on any issue if you weren't told! enlightened! Now thats funny stuff rite there! Coming from a bible thumper!

      February 11, 2012 at 12:02 am |
  15. guest

    rabble rabble rabble... they employ people and should be held to the SAME standards as EVERY other employer in the United States is... period!

    February 10, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Veritas

      Except for one little thing called the First Amendment. I'm sorry that you find it inconvenient.

      February 10, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • really?

      Veritas! Did you just say that?
      The first amendment gives us the right to have a religion if we chose to do so. However it does give religious organization the right to impose their beliefs on everyone as you and your church are trying to do. But you've been trained well by your leaders as far as taking something out of context, and making it to fit your needs and goals! Good try. But your argument is an empty one!

      February 10, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Steven


      Well your beliefs may be infringing upon the rights and free will of another person who may not believe the same things. Not all people who work at catholic hospitals, universities, or other organizations are catholic. They could be muslim, jewish, agnostic, or even atheists.. but they are hired because they are the best of the best.. For example.. Would you rather have a sub par doctor working on you just because he is a Christian? or an Atheist doctor who is at the top of their field.. They run their organisations like a business and don't bring ones faith into the hiring process.. Therefor they should be required to at least have the option like everyone else.. besides.. it's not like the government is making them hand out BC on the 1first of every month..

      Besides – christian or not, it's still ones free will to get and use BC.. if you don't want it – don't use it.. Nothing will have changed except for the fact that those who want it – can get it at their own doctor now; rather than a clinic. This is a big deal over nothing.

      February 11, 2012 at 1:09 am |
  16. MikeB59

    If alter boys could get pregnant, the Catholic church wouldn't be opposed to birth control.

    February 10, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  17. sybaris

    Just look at these people.
    Look at what they are wearing.
    They look like Shriners
    Stick a mini-bike under them and there you go, a parade of idiots
    ....... and people actually follow what they say.

    Put down the religion and walk away

    February 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Veritas

      I love how anti-religious people talk about the church being intolerant and bigotted,then they turn around and make fun of those who attend church and mock their beliefs. What hypocrites.

      February 10, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • sybaris

      No hypocrite here.
      I am intolerant of ANY religion.
      I think religion should be banned.
      I think anyone who practices any religion is an idiot and should not be allowed to reproduce or run for political office.
      I don't understand why a thought process that is the root cause of much of he world woes should be tolerated and given a pass!!
      Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!!

      February 10, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • really?

      So true sybaris!
      I think if youre deeply seeded in religion you are certifiably crazy. And therefore shouldnt be allowed to run for office!

      February 10, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Runabout

      Veritas. You clealy don't know the definition of the word hyprocite – a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs. Sybaris may be a angry spite filled person, but absolutely not a hypocrite. A better example of a hyprocrite in relation to this contraception obfuscation would be the currently sitting President.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • HeIsGod

      Well said, sybaris.....religion are men trying to reach God by fail. They lie, kill, steal, and destroy. God has nothing to do with religion.

      God is ONLY interesting in a RELATIONSHIP with His creation through His Son Jesus Christ.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • really?

      Could you be more pious, and passive aggressive!
      If you dont want birth control then dont take it! But please for god sakes, stop trying to make everyone believe, and behave as you do!

      February 11, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • sybaris

      HeIsGod, just because you try to pass yourself off as a "true christian" by not subscribing to a religion like catholocism does not absolve you from being less legitimate than they are.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • really?

      I just want to say I am a fan! It takes guts, and and a clear head to argue with crazy! And you've been great at it all night!

      February 11, 2012 at 1:06 am |
  18. RevMum


    Look, I'm not selling anything here. And I entirely understand and scknowledge all those horrible, ghastly, heinous thing you cite, and they sicken me too.

    But they weren't my church. And they have NOTHING to do with God. Stupid, cruel people, sure. But not God. God just got stuck with the blame.

    The people who have done such awful things, and who continue to do them...the people in the Catholic church who molested those children, the people Upright Abe knows are horrible to gay teens in Montana, the people right now trying to infantalize and control women...all those people then and now who do cruel things – they would do them with or without a church being involved.

    Mean is mean – and it would find another excuse if churches vanished altogether.

    February 10, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • really?

      You're absolutely right! But im not blaming god either. Im blaming the religious organizations that committed those deeds in his name! Organized religion does that, and if you think your organization is any different, just wait 'til they get enough followers. Do you feel like you can't pray, or have faith in god without being part of an organization? If not then why go? Why not have your own beliefs, pray at home, and live life the way you feel is right. So long that you dont invoke violence, or hurt others, live or be however you want. The thing is I believe we could have "heaven" right here on earth. But b4 we can do that, we have to prevent lies and fairy tales from being spread and corrupting innocent minds, and bodies!

      February 10, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  19. jerrylax

    We came from a country where religion was against the law. There were laws against large groups getting together too. Even the universities had govt spies...who were paid for information. We did not trust anyone...family or neighbors...and there is much much more. This type of thing (govt control) is just the beginning... America's law of the land is all you Americans have to protect you from people like obama....and many of you are too stupid/ignorant to know it...to know what you are throwing away.

    February 10, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Honestly

      No Jerry! We have to protect ourselves from people like you. Racism is unacceptable this day and age! Catch up! He's not Kenyan, he's not Muslim. Just a good ol' American trying to do the right thing!

      February 10, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • maelstromphysicist

      Says a conservative who bases his politics on religious belief.

      February 10, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • sarah34

      Honestly, jerry wasn't being racist. Stop overreacting. People don't like Obama for the same reason they didn't like Bush.

      February 10, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • really?

      Sarah! Im not an empty headed moron such as yourself! I dont need anyone telling me what to say or believe. Like you do! And this wasn't the 1st of his post either or yours! Changing your name doesn't mean I cant find out if you are you, now does it! So there ya have it! My opinions are my own. Im not religious and will need scientific proof b4 changing my mind. And you cant offer that. So why bother arguing?

      February 11, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  20. Meki60

    don't trust Obama, once he gets re-elected, he will change the plan back to original

    February 10, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Gosh, thanks EVER so much for the advice!!! How could I EVER make up my mind if I didn't have an ANONYMOUS advisor to assist me???

      February 10, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • really?

      He's not superman and Clark Kent! However I feel kinda feel like superman, cuz all this "kraptonite" on this blog is making me weak!

      February 10, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Larry L

      Stupid, stupid comment...

      February 11, 2012 at 12:41 am |
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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.