Cardinal Dolan: Obama administration ‘strangling the Church’ over health-care rule

Catholic dioceses and schools are suing the Obama administration over its birth control requirement. The Catholic University of America says the rule violates their constitutional rights and turns their teachings into an act of hypocrisy.

More than 40 Catholic organizations sued the Obama administration over a government requirement that most employers provide birth control coverage as part of their employee health plans.

The mandate forces most employers to provide coverage, either directly or through their insurance companies. The U.S. Health and Human Services Department adopted the rule to expand health care for women. Last year, an advisory panel from the Institute of Medicine recommended including birth control on the list of covered services, partly because it promotes maternal and child health by allowing women to space their pregnancies.

The original rule includes a religious exemption that allows churches to opt-out of the mandate, but keeps the requirement in place for religiously affiliated charities.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan said that the compromise reached earlier this year is not sufficient because the exemptions made for churches are too restrictive. He charged that the White House is “strangling” the church over the matter.

“They tell us … if you’re going to be really exempt from these demands of the government, well, you have to propagate your Catholic faith and everything you do, you can serve only Catholics and employ only Catholics,” Dolan said.

“We’re like, wait a minute, when did the government get in the business of defining for us the extent of our ministry?” Dolan said.

However, a California bishop says he and some other bishops are worried that the church’s campaign against the mandate is becoming too political and could hurt the Catholic Church.

Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton expressed concern that there were different groups trying to co-opt the mandate debate and make it into a political issue, “and that’s why we need to have a deeper discussion as bishops.”

He said that he was “worried that some groups ’very far to the right’ are trying to use the conflict as ‘an anti-Obama campaign.’”

Image CBS This Morning

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