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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. J Brouillette

    The Apocalypse of Peter

    "And near that place I saw another strait place . . . and there sat women. . . . And over against them many children who were born to them out of due time sat crying. And there came forth from them rays of fire and smote the women in the eyes. And these were the accursed who conceived and caused abortion" (The Apocalypse of Peter 25 [A.D. 137]).

    February 12, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
  2. J Brouillette

    Minucius Felix

    "There are some [pagan] women who, by drinking medical preparations, extinguish the source of the future man in their very bowels and thus commit a parricide before they bring forth. And these things assuredly come down from the teaching of your [false] gods. . . . To us [Christians] it is not lawful either to see or hear of homicide" (Octavius 30 [A.D. 226]).

    February 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And? Are these quotes supposed to prove something? If so, what?

      The only thing they appear to prove is that in the ancient world, men held positions of power and yet women did what they needed and wanted to do-what was best for their lives.

      Guess what? They still do. Not a thing you say or do will change that.

      February 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  3. J Brouillette

    Hippolytus

    "Women who were reputed to be believers began to take drugs to render themselves sterile, and to bind themselves tightly so as to expel what was being conceived, since they would not, on account of relatives and excess wealth, want to have a child by a slave or by any insignificant person. See, then, into what great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by teaching adultery and murder at the same time!" (Refutation of All Heresies [A.D. 228]).

    February 12, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  4. J Brouillette

    Jerome

    "I cannot bring myself to speak of the many virgins who daily fall and are lost to the bosom of the Church, their mother. . . . Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception. Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when, as often happens, they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ but also of suicide and child murder" (Letters 22:13 [A.D. 396]).

    February 12, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hey, J, here's a news flash for ya: It's 2012.

      February 12, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  5. karela

    By the reasoning of the Archbishop of Miami, no business, however loosely related to the Catholic church can do ANY business with any insurance company that provides contraception coverage for anyone--and if they're going to really stick with the Pope, no vasectomies either-–though we don't hear about them coercing the men. That sounds more like the Catholic church is trying to coerce the whole country into obeying their rules than Catholics living their own lives according to their lights. And in point of fact, it isn't American Catholics who live according to those rules because 98% of American Catholic women report having used contraception. A small group old, white, fat men in little red hats have been bullying the nation. Enough. I am well and truly disgusted with the Catholic church now. If the point was to make more Americans hate the Catholic church-----–MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

    February 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Redrum

      Obama backs down to Catholic bishops. HA HA HA HA!!! You can all curse all you want. The Church has power, Obama is weak

      February 12, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  6. James

    No compromise was necessary. The bishops have to explain why in spite of their doctrine, 98% of catholics like my wife & I use contraception. The only people against the policy are the bishops and the republicans who are trying to get political capital out of this. I did not hear any objections from the born-again christians and the republicans in the 28 states that already provide this option.

    February 12, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  7. Redrum

    What was it that Uncle Joe asked, "How many Divisions does the Pope have?" Ine by one, they all find out, don't they?

    February 12, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Bob

      More like "How many child molesters is the Pope hiding?"

      February 12, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  8. Redrum

    I love it that all you trolling atheists are slow-burning because O'Bama backed down to Catholic bishops, and he will again. Ha! This issue is not over, and before it is, B. Hussein Obama will once again crumble to the Catholic Church. Ha!

    Suc'as

    February 12, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Bob

      Redrum: go back to your usual masturbation, stupid. Your sick religion is in its dying days as it tears itself apart.

      February 12, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Redrum

      Dying days.....tears itself apart. Yeah, right! You name me one religious leader from ANY denomination in this country who can do to Obama what Dolan just did! None! Obama and the anti-Catholic/anti-Christian Left are getting a crash course in civics 101.

      February 12, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  9. guess who?

    CHURCH LEADERS AND BIBLE THUMPERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR RAPING CHILDREN AT EVERY CORNER OF THE GLOBE!
    PLEASE PROTECT OUR CHILDREN!
    MAKE IT A LAW THAT YOU MUST BE 18 TO ATTEND ANY CHURCH!
    THIS WILL PREVENT THESE PERVERTS FROM RAPING OUR CHILDREN!
    LORD KNOWS WHAT ELSE THEY HAVE DONE AND COVERED UP!

    February 12, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer brings miracles
    Prayer changes lives
    Prayer is talking with God
    Prayer changes things

    February 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I change things by myself.

      February 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Delta

      Hope and Change!

      We need to fundamentally transform America

      February 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • guess who?

      Athiesm will protect your children from child molesting church leaders!

      February 12, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • guess who?

      THANK GOD THE CHURCHES AREN'T ABOVE THE LAW!

      THE CURRENT POPE IS A FORMER NAZI! Google it now!

      February 12, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Nope

      *The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs."""""`~~~~~~~~~~

      February 13, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  11. Delta

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOuedf6jx98&w=640&h=360]

    February 12, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Prayer is change we need

      February 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Prayer is change we need!

      February 12, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • guess who?

      Church goers have been praying to god to protect their children. Too bad it didn't protect them. However a court summons seemed to do the trick! When the church leaders were facing jail time for keeping their dirty deeds hidden from the law and the public. Or send their pedophiles from one church to another, to protect them. While turning a blind eye to the victims of the atrocities! THANK GOD, THE CHURCHES WERE CAUGHT!

      February 12, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  12. Delta

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kovGM1ZrCck&w=640&h=360]

    February 12, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  13. BADGUY

    I guess the choice will be simple in November. Do you want the Republican Party, Rick Santorum, Tim Dolan (The Pope's "right hand man" in the USA) and Joe Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) making decisions on "women's health" issues in the USA or not!

    February 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Delta

      Heck no! I'd rather have Jeremiah Wright calling the moral shots "GD America! GD AMERICA!!!"

      February 12, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Delta

      And let's not forget ole Van Jones, the SEIU, OWS, and the others! That's who should be calling the shots in America!

      February 12, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • BADGUY

      Choose!

      February 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • BADGUY

      I'll take Wright and Jones ANYTIME over and ex-Nazi soldier...with a mission!

      February 12, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • guess who?

      Keep "CRAZY REPUBLICAN NUTS" out of office!

      February 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • guess who?

      Delta! Jeremiah Wright isn't running for office!
      apparently you were unaware of this!

      February 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • guess who?

      And neither is Van Jones!

      February 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  14. Delta

    And no one could be more shocked than I. I mean, reports say that some music industry insiders say she "looked good" the last couple of days. And they would know! Just like Michael Jackson looked good before George W. Bush and uncaring Republicans killed him off

    February 12, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • guess who?

      You are certifiable! Stop being so bitter. The only one that can make you happy is you!
      Stop thinking that anyone has to serve you, or that praying to god is enough to make you happy. You seem to be filled with the glories of god, yet your extremely bitter! why?

      February 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  15. Delta

    I blame Whitney Houston's death on the Catholic Church and George Bush – and ALL people of faith. The hedonistic, narcissistic, spoiled, drug-addled Hollywood crowd tried to save her, but she was already too far down the road of belief

    February 12, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • guess who?

      Maybe you should blame Whitney Houston for her own death. Yes she was very religious just as her family is. But god didnt bring her fame and fortune, she did. God didnt kill her, she did. If you want to be prosperous, and healthy, and happy. You are the only one responsible for making that happen, not god!

      February 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  16. poopooh!

    I concur!

    February 12, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  17. poopooh!

    ?
    that guys is insane, he makes ridiculous claims, and puts up outrageous statistics. None of which are true! Thats what’s wrong with these Republicans.
    When they have no other argument left they result to name calling. “editor” no-one in here is writing a book. And its perfecly ok, to end a sentence with a sentence with a preposition! You can change your name a million times, but your ignorance always shines through. here’s another sentence that is perfectly crafted, literally acceptable. And will end with a preposition, Are you ready for it? shut the “f” up!?
    that guys is insane, he makes ridiculous claims, and puts up outrageous statistics. None of which are true! Thats what’s wrong with these Republicans.
    When they have no other argument left they result to name calling. “editor” no-one in here is writing a book. And its perfecly ok, to end a sentence with a sentence with a preposition! You can change your name a million times, but your ignorance always shines through. here’s another sentence that is perfectly crafted, literally acceptable. And will end with a preposition, Are you ready for it? shut the “f” up!?
    that guys is insane, he makes ridiculous claims, and puts up outrageous statistics. None of which are true! Thats what’s wrong with these Republicans.
    When they have no other argument left they result to name calling. “editor” no-one in here is writing a book. And its perfecly ok, to end a sentence with a sentence with a preposition! You can change your name a million times, but your ignorance always shines through. here’s another sentence that is perfectly crafted, literally acceptable. And will end with a preposition, Are you ready for it? shut the “f” up!?
    that guys is insane, he makes ridiculous claims, and puts up outrageous statistics. None of which are true! Thats what’s wrong with these Republicans.
    When they have no other argument left they result to name calling. “editor” no-one in here is writing a book. And its perfecly ok, to end a sentence with a sentence with a preposition! You can change your name a million times, but your ignorance always shines through. here’s another sentence that is perfectly crafted, literally acceptable. And will end with a preposition, Are you ready for it? shut the “f” up!?
    that guys is insane, he makes ridiculous claims, and puts up outrageous statistics. None of which are true! Thats what’s wrong with these Republicans.
    When they have no other argument left they result to name calling. “editor” no-one in here is writing a book. And its perfecly ok, to end a sentence with a sentence with a preposition! You can change your name a million times, but your ignorance always shines through. here’s another sentence that is perfectly crafted, literally acceptable. And will end with a preposition, Are you ready for it? shut the “f” up!?
    that guys is insane, he makes ridiculous claims, and puts up outrageous statistics. None of which are true! Thats what’s wrong with these Republicans.
    When they have no other argument left they result to name calling. “editor” no-one in here is writing a book. And its perfecly ok, to end a sentence with a sentence with a preposition! You can change your name a million times, but your ignorance always shines through. here’s another sentence that is perfectly crafted, literally acceptable. And will end with a preposition, Are you ready for it? shut the “f” up!?
    that guys is insane, he makes ridiculous claims, and puts up outrageous statistics. None of which are true! Thats what’s wrong with these Republicans.
    When they have no other argument left they result to name calling. “editor” no-one in here is writing a book. And its perfecly ok, to end a sentence with a sentence with a preposition! You can change your name a million times, but your ignorance always shines through. here’s another sentence that is perfectly crafted, literally acceptable. And will end with a preposition, Are you ready for it? shut the “f” up!?
    that guys is insane, he makes ridiculous claims, and puts up outrageous statistics. None of which are true! Thats what’s wrong with these Republicans.
    When they have no other argument left they result to name calling. “editor” no-one in here is writing a book. And its perfecly ok, to end a sentence with a sentence with a preposition! You can change your name a million times, but your ignorance always shines through. here’s another sentence that is perfectly crafted, literally acceptable. And will end with a preposition, Are you ready for it? shut the “f” up!

    February 12, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  18. poopooh!

    “Tax the wealthy as the were before.”They don’t create anything except bank accounts and jobs in other countries with their extra money.They are buying a yacht for junior just like daddy’ s while we argue about religion and contraception.Diversionary tactics!The only thing Santorum,Gingrich,and Romney have showed me they can do is change the subject, ignring the guestions and/or the facts.I read a few books years ago about brain washing and propoganda and these guys are masters of deceit.Masters is too complimentary though since they are dealing with mostly reneck bible indoctrinated nit-wits.People may mean well for this country but they need to wake up to the fact that they do things against their own interests in the name of conservatism. Throw out the Tea-bag traitors and religious fanatic, they only serve the rich and the corporate thieves who are robbing us daily. Obama 4 more years.Tax the rich.Too much money in the hands of a few!

    February 12, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • BADGUY

      Absoutemente!

      February 12, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  19. poopooh!

    subject should be “Tax the wealthy as the were before.”They don’t create anything except bank accounts and jobs in other countries with their extra money.They are buying a yacht for junior just like daddy’ s while we argue about religion and contraception.Diversionary tactics!The only thing Santorum,Gingrich,and Romney have showed me they can do is change the subject, ignring the guestions and/or the facts.I read a few books years ago about brain washing and propoganda and these guys are masters of deceit.Masters is too complimentary though since they are dealing with mostly reneck bible indoctrinated nit-wits.People may mean well for this country but they need to wake up to the fact that they do things against their own interests in the name of conservatism. Throw out the Tea-bag traitors and religious fanatic, they only serve the rich and the corporate thieves who are robbing us daily. Obama 4 more years.Tax the rich.Too much money in the hands of a few!subject should be “Tax the wealthy as the were before.”They don’t create anything except bank accounts and jobs in other countries with their extra money.They are buying a yacht for junior just like daddy’ s while we argue about religion and contraception.Diversionary tactics!The only thing Santorum,Gingrich,and Romney have showed me they can do is change the subject, ignring the guestions and/or the facts.I read a few books years ago about brain washing and propoganda and these guys are masters of deceit.Masters is too complimentary though since they are dealing with mostly reneck bible indoctrinated nit-wits.People may mean well for this country but they need to wake up to the fact that they do things against their own interests in the name of conservatism. Throw out the Tea-bag traitors and religious fanatic, they only serve the rich and the corporate thieves who are robbing us daily. Obama 4 more years.Tax the rich.Too much money in the hands of a few!subject should be “Tax the wealthy as the were before.”They don’t create anything except bank accounts and jobs in other countries with their extra money.They are buying a yacht for junior just like daddy’ s while we argue about religion and contraception.Diversionary tactics!The only thing Santorum,Gingrich,and Romney have showed me they can do is change the subject, ignring the guestions and/or the facts.I read a few books years ago about brain washing and propoganda and these guys are masters of deceit.Masters is too complimentary though since they are dealing with mostly reneck bible indoctrinated nit-wits.People may mean well for this country but they need to wake up to the fact that they do things against their own interests in the name of conservatism. Throw out the Tea-bag traitors and religious fanatic, they only serve the rich and the corporate thieves who are robbing us daily. Obama 4 more years.Tax the rich.Too much money in the hands of a few!subject should be “Tax the wealthy as the were before.”They don’t create anything except bank accounts and jobs in other countries with their extra money.They are buying a yacht for junior just like daddy’ s while we argue about religion and contraception.Diversionary tactics!The only thing Santorum,Gingrich,and Romney have showed me they can do is change the subject, ignring the guestions and/or the facts.I read a few books years ago about brain washing and propoganda and these guys are masters of deceit.Masters is too complimentary though since they are dealing with mostly reneck bible indoctrinated nit-wits.People may mean well for this country but they need to wake up to the fact that they do things against their own interests in the name of conservatism. Throw out the Tea-bag traitors and religious fanatic, they only serve the rich and the corporate thieves who are robbing us daily. Obama 4 more years.Tax the rich.Too much money in the hands of a few!subject should be “Tax the wealthy as the were before.”They don’t create anything except bank accounts and jobs in other countries with their extra money.They are buying a yacht for junior just like daddy’ s while we argue about religion and contraception.Diversionary tactics!The only thing Santorum,Gingrich,and Romney have showed me they can do is change the subject, ignring the guestions and/or the facts.I read a few books years ago about brain washing and propoganda and these guys are masters of deceit.Masters is too complimentary though since they are dealing with mostly reneck bible indoctrinated nit-wits.People may mean well for this country but they need to wake up to the fact that they do things against their own interests in the name of conservatism. Throw out the Tea-bag traitors and religious fanatic, they only serve the rich and the corporate thieves who are robbing us daily. Obama 4 more years.Tax the rich.Too much money in the hands of a few!

    February 12, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  20. poopooh!

    funny how if you dont believe in the same god, as a large religious organization, you’re called an athiest! I guess I am an athieast as in I dont believe in their simple minded deities. I think im apart of something great, and something of insignificance at the same time. I am part of alpha and omega! Of everything, including nothing! When I die, my body will break down to dust just as everyone else’s does. I will have to relinquish control of my body, and be apart of something much bigger, the planet earth. My body may become part of a tree or flower, or part of an insect that devours my flesh. At anyway, I will go on. Not in human form as I will not be needed for that purpose any longer. However I will be needed in some fashion forever! Cuz I am apart of everything, and nothing!funny how if you dont believe in the same god, as a large religious organization, you’re called an athiest! I guess I am an athieast as in I dont believe in their simple minded deities. I think im apart of something great, and something of insignificance at the same time. I am part of alpha and omega! Of everything, including nothing! When I die, my body will break down to dust just as everyone else’s does. I will have to relinquish control of my body, and be apart of something much bigger, the planet earth. My body may become part of a tree or flower, or part of an insect that devours my flesh. At anyway, I will go on. Not in human form as I will not be needed for that purpose any longer. However I will be needed in some fashion forever! Cuz I am apart of everything, and nothing!funny how if you dont believe in the same god, as a large religious organization, you’re called an athiest! I guess I am an athieast as in I dont believe in their simple minded deities. I think im apart of something great, and something of insignificance at the same time. I am part of alpha and omega! Of everything, including nothing! When I die, my body will break down to dust just as everyone else’s does. I will have to relinquish control of my body, and be apart of something much bigger, the planet earth. My body may become part of a tree or flower, or part of an insect that devours my flesh. At anyway, I will go on. Not in human form as I will not be needed for that purpose any longer. However I will be needed in some fashion forever! Cuz I am apart of everything, and nothing!

    February 12, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Bibletruth

      I know the bible is very deep, but it is also wide open to every searching heart....therein is the love of God, a knowledge of God, peace, contentment....everything good and just...for the mind/heart that seeks truth. Regarding prayer, it is good to know a certain verse , and Christianity in general needs to know it. It is this: " Those that will not hear the law, even their prayers are an abomination" ...I suggest everyone read the ten commandments and many will see/know the barrier they themselves raise up that their prayers are not answered. And for those who will go off track and claim that it is impossible to keep the law of God, just answer yes, it is impossible without Jesus. But keeping the law of God is normative christian behavior for a grace saved Christian.

      February 12, 2012 at 1:00 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.