Bishops respond to Obama announcement on contraceptive mandate

UPDATE: Full news release.

SECOND UPDATESecond statement by bishops on HHS mandate calls for its total rescission

The following statement was just issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sees initial opportunities in preserving the principle of religious freedom after President Obama’s announcement today. But the Conference continues to express concerns. “While there may be an openness to respond to some of our concerns, we reserve judgment on the details until we have them,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

‘The past three weeks have witnessed a remarkable unity of Americans from all religions or none at all worried about the erosion of religious freedom and governmental intrusion into issues of faith and morals,” he said.

‘Today’s decision to revise how individuals obtain services that are morally objectionable to religious entities and people of faith is a first step in the right direction,” Cardinal-designate Dolan said. “We hope to work with the Administration to guarantee that Americans’ consciences and our religious freedom are not harmed by these regulations.”

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35 Responses to Bishops respond to Obama announcement on contraceptive mandate

  1. Mary Lou says:

    again, President Obama’s actions have made things worse. Now ALL insurance plans will have to have FREE contraceptives dictated by the HHS mandate. As an organization of conscience, you will not FIND a health plan for your employees who will not have this provision. You will not be able to fashion your own plan without that provision. There will be no religious exceptions as you were requesting. The government REQUIRES you to have health insurance for your employees and you will be paying the premiums and it will provide for FREE contraceptives. This is just as objectionable as the other definition and it does not let you have an sort of say in the matter.

  2. DianeN says:

    Please do not polarize our Church any further. This is issue is pitting Catholics against catholics and we all end up losing. Just read the vesiral posts on the social network sites. I agree with Sister Keegan that this is a good compromise for the Church and women. Let’s not be mired in controversy and hate any longer.

  3. Wendy says:

    Isn’t Sister Keegan the same that was on the chopping block in the 1st place. This new “compromise” is merely a rewording of the same issue. I am happy that steadfast Catholics who read Humanae Vitae and live by the word of Christ through the church are standing up and there will be a cleansing of those who don’t. Bring it on. Mother Church and Christ will not back down.

  4. annie says:

    Accommodation and compromise are four letter words when they slide out of Obama’s mouth. Sr. Kreehan should be ashamed. And could your response have been any more tepid???

  5. Tom Leith says:

    Today’s decision does not “revise how individuals obtain services that are morally objectionable to religious entities and people of faith” in the least. It pretends that insurance companies will give something away without being paid for it. Do not fall for this nonsense.

  6. david says:

    who is willing to compromise on death?

  7. Michael Lee says:

    This is, as Michelle Malkin correctly called it, “an accounting trick.” As for Sr. Keehan; she’s been the cheerleader for ObamaCare (even taking sides AGAINST the USCCB) since day 1. She’s typical of the type of “c”atholics with which Obama surrounds himself. Insurance companies do NOTHING for “free.” It’s paid for by premiums and fees. Who pays those? Come on…I know you know…..that’s right; we will pay for it — and Obama, Sebelius, Pelosi and Keehan will laugh.

  8. Carroll Rinehart says:

    Let’s not kid ourselves. The vast majority of American Catholics use some form of birth control. Over 80 percent. Yes, this is not what the Catholic Church teaches, but the Catholic Church doesn’t pay for the children we bring into our lives. We love our children, but realize that we can only afford to have so many children, unless we have the money to support them, and the Church does not help us out with this cost. In addition, the Church never, never addresses the fact that this planet can only support so many people.

    So yes, Catholics do make choices that don’t coincide with Church teachings. Does that mean we should abandon our faith? Does the Church want us to abandon our faith because of this difference of opinion? I don’t think so. I think the Church is so out of touch with the modern world. The earth cannot support so many people. Population was not an issue when the New Testament was written. This is like a train wreck that we know will happen, but refuse to get off the train.

  9. Richard A. Williams says:

    Please, my fellow Catholics, do not be deceived by Sr. Keehan. Keep steady with your Bishops and your Church. We are not alone in this, others of good conscience are with us. Please pray for strength and guidance through these hard times. This “accomodation” is like the military tactic of “diversion,” it is to get our eyes off track.

  10. Jason says:

    any “concessions” are only a ploy to get the religious community to support tyranny! it’s all about who you will worship!

  11. Jim Schwarz says:

    It is absolutely no compromise at all. It forces on all of society (with the possible exception of Catholic organizations) the funding of contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacients. This is not a “free” government service! Contraceptives are the most commonly prescribed drug in the USA. They are so ubiquitous that their active metabolites may be found in our rivers in quantities sufficient to alter the development and hormonal activeties of fish. Simular quantities may be found in the water supplies of our major cities. Advese effects are known to include increased risks for blood clots, acceleration of estrogen sensitive cancer including those of the breast and uterus just for starters. What the mandate does is to force everyone to pay for their cost. From employers who are forced to pay by reducing salaries, to taxpayers who fund government agencies, to private citizens like my wife and I who purchase our own health insurance. All of us will be forced to pay, to share in the cost of these drugs plus the administrative costs which goes into the process. There is no such thing as “free contraceptives”. Those who choose to use them should pay out of their own pockets. Because of increased insurance costs the price is no different and perhaps less because of hidden adminestration costs. I pray to God that Archbishop Dolan is able to see through this charade.

  12. Mary Elizabeth says:

    The Catholic Church does not pay for children and many Catholic parents that have those children depend on government programs and other taxpayers to take care of said children. Many are hungry. And half of the children can’t pass standardized tests, or read. And this week we hear that half of the teens in low-income areas don’t have employment. And it does not look good for their future. Not only can the earth not support all this life, all families need to think carefully about bringing life into this world. Many do not and expect that “the good lord will provide.” These “thoughtful comments” appear to come from people who have their heads way up in the heavenly clouds. We need more people down on this earth working with what we already brought here.

  13. Jim Schwarz says:


  14. Jim Schwarz says:

    I want to add that no one outside the government has done more to educate the Children of the poor here and abroad. Children in Catholic Schools do better than those in public schools but because the Democrats favor the big teachers unions they fail to recognize that fact or provide vouchers for parents to send thier children to these schools which are much more effective. Children in Catholic Schools do much better on standardizes tests!

  15. chloe says:

    I am so sick of so-called Catholics on both sides of the aisle that do nothing to protect life from conception to natural death that I was thinking I’dhold my nose and vote for Obama. This poor decision–and the “accommodation” that followed it–that violates our Free Exercise of religion woke me up. Santorum will get my vote in November.

  16. Mary Elizabeth says:

    No one can argue that the Church has done so much for the Poor. But the Church has run out of nuns-who-work-for-free. And let’s not even talk about how much money has to be used for priests who abuse. Catholic schools do better on standardized tests in part because they do not accept children with cognitive disabilities, because there is no money for special education. The Church cannot keep insisting that parents beget children who cannot be supported in all ways that human beings need to be supported. “The dignity of human life.”…from conception to grave??? .Let’s be clear that it takes LOVE…which translated means money, commitment, and planning. (And we best not start talking about the “golden years”….where grams/gramps get forgotten and dumped). There is a big world out there..labeling “Catholics” “Democrats” etc. and making it us-vs-them is the best way to keep things a mess. And the poor will get poorer…and so will our ability to unify and create God’s kingdom. Go ahead and pick apart these “poor decisions” that “violate your rights” Pick your candidate and go crazy with standing up for what’s right. You can be “right” all you want. It’s your “choice.” This is the dignity of human life?

  17. Jim Schwarz says:

    Mary, I have heard all this before from other dissidents and members of teachers unions- nothing you say is new to me. This atack on conscience was first of all made on the consciences of Catholic pharmacists. Our son happens to be one of those pharmacists. I am a retired registered nurse. Our daughter is a doctor of nursing practice and a professor of nursing. Our grandson is a nursing student. We are a health care family. I have devoted my life to life, the care of the sick and to human dignity. You picked an arguement with the wrong guy! In Belgium, my birthplace, the culture of death has now advanced so far as to have nurses kill the sick and disabled on both ends of the life spectrum- and also in the middle. That’s what the culture you advocate advances to and Obama is taking a giant step along that road by what he is doing.

  18. J. Bob says:

    Mary Elizabeth,
    you talk about love, while at the same time, you seem to abandon the most innocent & vulnerable, the unborn.

    This is more then a matter of the MSM fixation on free contraceptives, this is about freedom of religion to exercise their belief. If an appointed official can announce a policy that goes against my beliefs, what next? Read this an be warned.

    Pastor Niemoller Reflections
    When Niemoller was asked why he supported Hitler he said “I find myself wondering about that too. I wonder about it as much as I regret it. Still, it is true that Hitler betrayed me. I had an audience with him, as a representative of the Protestant Church, shortly before he became Chancellor, in 1932. Hitler promised me on his word of honor, to protect the Church, and not to issue any anti-Church laws. He also agreed not to allow pogroms against the Jews … I really believed, given the widespread anti-Semitism in Germany, at that time that Jews should avoid aspiring to Government positions or seats in the Reichstag. There were many Jews, especially among the Zionists, who took a similar stand. Hitler’s assurance satisfied me at the time. On the other hand, I hated the growing atheistic movement, which was fostered and promoted by the Social Democrats and the Communists. Their hostility toward the Church made me pin my hopes on Hitler for a while. I am paying for that mistake now.

  19. Ed Lambert says:

    Too bad that Cardinal-designate Dolan and others among the American hierarchy haven’t come out to question directly the very authority Obama thinks he has in ordering any entity to pay for anything. Doing so might provide impetus for Congress to have its say on this matter.
    Not to mention the utter failure over the decades of the American hierarchy to take a close look at the very designs of progressivism as adopted by the Democrat Party. Instead, the Church has danced with the devil, assuming it would be exempted from the devil’s designs. Finally, it is beginning to see what contemporary liberalism is all about and understanding what conservatives have always known. We still do not know whether it is too late.

  20. Jim Schwarz says:

    In the 20’s in Germany there was a great political divide. On the extreme right there was the National Socialist German Workers (NAZI) Party. On the far left there was the communist party. Both of these advocated centralized control of virtually everything, they were socialist in nature. Because of the fear of communism many including members of the catholic church. (small c) sided with the NAZI party. They assumed it would bring a solution to the poverty of the great depression.

    Initially the NAZI party focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois and anti capitalist rhetoric. Later it switched to something different.

    What are the lessons of history? What will the extremism on left and right lead to? I thank God there is only one party at present which poses government control over virtually everything. We should learn from history. Who wants to centrally control health care and imposes on the consciences of the people? I hear of a “compromise” which does not free the consciences of anybody because insurance companies will be forced to pass on the costs of the mandate including ‘free’ morning after abortion pills to policy holders. It will also continue to force compliance on the consciences of pharmacists. There is absolutely nothing “Free” about this health care; not the cost, not business, not individuals and certainly not the consciences of the people. I am all for providing health care for those who would suffer without it but this is not the solution.

  21. Jorge_Nick says:

    We have to pray hard and vote against Obama.

  22. Jim Couts says:

    Perhaps someone could clarify one relatively obscure incident surrounding this controversy. Our priest, a retired military chaplain, asked that we all pray for the nation because the Obama administration ordered that a letter from the Archbishop of Military Services NOT be read at Mass on military bases. I’ve read several accounts of this story and, as best as I can discern, that is not what happened. The Army Chief of Chaplains expressed concern with one line that seemed to call for civil disobedience among Army personell. That line was removed and the letter was read. According to Catholic News Service, the Archbishop continues to claim that the First Amendment on religious liberty and freedom of speech was violated. Can someone help me with this. I don’t get it.

  23. Theresa Niecgorski says:

    We are all blilnded by what is really going on here. We need to fight this with all we’ve got. This is a religious freedom issue and a human rights issue. The administration is lying when they say this is a womens health issue. More woman have health problems from taking contraceptives than not. Also this is an abortion issue because they are rmandating the abortion pills, sterilization, etc. This is a very dangerous use of power. The next step will be to kill the elderly in hospitals to save money for the govenrment, then they will remove children with handicaps and justy this position because they will say it is better for that person to be dead than deal with their handicaps. Then they will soon order us to have abortion against our will. One concession will lead to other more progressive concessions.

    Nancy Pelosi and Kathy Selibus should be excommunicated from the catholic church. These aggressive feminist are being lead by the evil one. Read the first story of the bible – Eve tempted Adam to eat the apple. We need to pray to the Mother of God for the Church in America and in the world.

    We need to put a stop to this now. Obama and his administration need to be voted out of office before we lose all our freedoms in this country. Obama is not God. We only worship the Lord our God and he knows what is best.

  24. Jeff39 says:

    The HHS ruling is wrong, period. The stage is set for elimination of the rule, or a terrible confrontation of Church and State with the Church being in the right. The stage includes all of us who, in the secrecy of our private thoughts, and in our actions will decide on which side we stand. Since God observes all those on the stage, it is important that while we think and act in accord with His will, we remember that all of his children are works in progress. Just as the saints were. With that in mind, it is crucial that we not judge or pass judgement on anyone or attack their character as that is another evil which places our own souls in danger. Pray instead for the conversion of mind and soul of all those who would impose the HHS rule and avoid condemnation of individuals or groups. If we do not pray in such a manner, then our own display of indignation and righteousness can be suspected as mere politics, as is the case of many of the columnists who use this issue as fodder.

  25. Jeff39 says:

    “Nancy Pelosi and Kathy Selibus should be excommunicated from the catholic church. These aggressive feminist are being lead by the evil one.” That is for God to decide-it is for you to pray for them. The ‘evil one’ is also capable of encouraging anger and animosity towards those who need our prayers.

  26. Jim Schwarz says:

    There IS much to be said regarding the charactor of a person who leaves and betrays the one who brought him to the dance. The Catholic Church was dancing with Barack Obama long before he came to Washington. They trained him in community organizing and paid his salary. He worked out of the offices provided by a Catholic faith community- in part of a rectory no less. They helped fund him to run a voter registration campaign which popularized him and allowed him to gain his seat in the Illinois Senate. I think that if the truth were known the Church’s contributions to his development went far beyond that. They don’t call it “The Catholic Campaign for Human Development” for nothing. It’s not just not “Obama Catholics” he betrayed. It is the bishops themselves and every Catholic who ever contributed a dime to the CCHD. The sad thing is that the Church didn’t do enough to vet his core beliefs and charactor. Now everything the bishops did for him has come back on them. The smooth, but disingenious words about not leaving one’s faith at the door recently spoken at the national prayer breakfast were learned from the Church long before he came to Washington

  27. Ed Lambert says:

    The Catholic leadership has confused two important issues over the decades: “helping the poor” is a Christian command for individual Christians to give of themselves while government mandates have to do with nothing beyond eliciting and maintaining support for politicians interested in preserving themselves in office and advancing a political agenda.

    There is no “charity” in the political transfer of wealth. Thus, it in no way comports with the Christian concept of individuals willingly giving of themselves or of their goods.

    No matter. Most Catholic bishops were brought up in Democrat households and bought the line that the liberals were selling. They should have seen decades ago that the liberal welfare programs resulted in increased family dysfunction and poverty, not a reflief from these plagues. Their soft-heartedness overruled their good judgment. It still does.

    This is not unlike the plague found in poverty-stricken communities: the refusal to cooperate with efforts to identify and deal with lawbreakers of any stripe.

  28. Jim Schwarz says:

    People in the Catholic community need to stand up and say “Enough is enough!” We are loosing this battle for the hearts and souls of the people, the battle for what this country is to become and the battle for the soul of the Church herself! Until the FAITHFUL laity stand up and say “We have had it!” nothing is going to change. This morning I read at the Catholic News Agency “Catholic Charities USA issued a new statement voicing uncertainty over the Obama administration’s “accommodation” for religious freedom within its contraception mandate.” What on earth is “uncertain” about this mandate? Whether or not Catholic institutions are protected insurance companies will pass on the cost to policy holders and the administration will continue to violate the consciences of pharmacists by forcing them to comply with this newly established “right”. Our bishops need to bring Catholic Charities in line. In doing so they will need to examine the pockets of Catholic Charities and see whose coins they are carrying. Just yesterday Public Radio said Obama has given millions of dollars to Catholic Charities. Those coins need to be returned! It is time render unto Caesar what is Caesars and unto God what is Gods!

  29. Jim Schwarz says:

    I see that Catholic Charities has issued a statement without ambiguity that they are fully on board with our bishops. Thank God! All 180 Diocesan Bishops are on board. Missing in action are some Catholic Colleges, apparrently including St John’s/St Ben’s in MN. It is noteworthy that the College of St Thomas in MN has signed on. I encourage people to ask those colleges to sign on. Don’t wait until the next time they come with their hand out for $$ Do it now!

  30. ANN SALZER says:

    I am so sick of the cop out – we can’t afford a child. Without life nothing else is worth anything. Perhaps if we all get off of our selfish kick and live with less we could all be able to support ‘our children’. Each day is a gift from God – why is it that some of us feel we are the only ones entitled to that gift. Practice abstinance 0nce and quite your whining!!!! You have a right to life – your child who was conceived by you has a right to life also! Get it together!! We all die sometime – I wonder what we will say for a poor escuse to our creator!!!!! I have seen people who say they can not afford a child and then turn around and spend thousands of dollars on their dogs and cats. Life is a gift from God not for you to take or throw away but to share!!!!

  31. Duane Lamers says:

    The observation that most Catholics use birth control methods is irrelevant to the argument, although Obama and his ilk think it means everything. Take note of Nancy Pelosi’s facetious remark. This is the government telling individuals and corporate entities what they must buy for someone’s personal use. Nonsense!
    It seems that birth control users somehow have gotten along fine for the past 40-plus years without taxpayers or other third parties picking up the tab. Why do Democrats insist that birth control must be a “freebie” to anyone wanting it?
    The answer is simple: Progressivism today and going back even to Woodrow Wilson is all about control. Pure and simple. Back then Margaret Sanger advocated the control of black births. Progressives detest conservatives because the latter want people to make their owh decisions and be responsible for them. The utopian progressives think that government will make everything equal and right–despite the 70-year history of the Soviet Union before it imploded.
    Utopians will not quit. The battle actually has hardly started.

  32. Jim Schwarz says:

    On February 17 the New York Times issued a story which documented that over 50 % of children born to women under 30 yrs of age are born out of wedlock. That is happening 50 yrs after the “pill” hit the market and extensive “sex education” in our public schools. In many neighborhoods of color extensively served by Planned Parenthood the rate of out of wedlock births exceeds 70 %.In 1965 it was 25 %. Quoting Ron Regnaris, “the Pill inarguably contributed directly to the single-largest drop in the “price of sex,” that is, how much relationship commitment is necessary (on average) before women agree to sex with men.” This has led to the collapse of marriage and the family unit: Divorce is up 111 % & unwed births up 325 % since 1963. The number of unmarried couples is up 536 %. That’s the real effect of the pill on society: Increased out of wedlock births, decreased commitment in relationships, increased divorce, increased poverty. AND if you believe the family is the foundation of our society, the impending collapse of our society. No society can survive when over 50 % of its children are without both a mother and father. Look at the statistics regarding children born under those conditions! The “pill’ has been the cause, not the solution of today’s circumstance!

  33. Duane Lamers says:

    All this is true, and Dr. Laura once made a great comment on the possible destructive effects of birth control on society.

    The weakening of our own society, however, can only be partially blamed on birth control. The increased rate of family dysfunction can be correlated directly with the increase in welfare and other “social services” advocated by liberals, all of which had been applauded loudly by the Catholic hierarchy.

    That’s the same hierarchy that hardly had a good thing to say about the George Bush administration despite the fact that he had instituted more “Catholic-approved” policies than any of this predecessors. Ah, but Bush was a Republican. Now the hierarchs are beginning to see what will come down the pike in any future Democrat administration.

    “A day late and a dollar short” comes to mind.

  34. Jim Schwarz says:

    To quote portions of Christopher Manion’s writing, The Coming of Age of the Laity in Crisis Magazine: “For forty-four years far too many bishops have treated Humanae Vitae like the skunk at the parish Social Justice Picnic. …To win this war, the Church is going to have to break a lot of bad habits. And old habits die hard. A new generation of bishops now recognize the perils of allying with the American government that Pope Leo XIII warned against a century ago. The dalliance – sometimes romantic, sometimes merely convenient – between the USCCB and the Democrats has brought forth a raft of Church institutions whose bureaucracies mirror those of their government counterparts. Church “charity” has come to rely increasingly on politicians, not the laity. Thus, as the Democrats have moved left, our bureaucracies have too – whether by choice or by necessity. After all, they count on billions of taxpayer dollars flowing to Church institutions every year. Well, that is going to end…..There are two ways in which this will come to pass: either the Church will renounce all government funding – and, eventually, even its tax-exempt status – or a hostile government will revoke them. … For too long the Church’s attitude has been, “Let the government do it.” But as Pope Benedict put it, the enemy that confronts us is driven by “powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.” Compromise is not possible with the Angel of Death. It never has been. What began as an attack on the principles shaping the placement policies of Catholic adoption agencies will soon target every aspect of truly Catholic charity….When the government money goes, that leaves us – the laity. Charity in the twenty-first century will be like that in the nineteenth – when the glorious institutions of Holy Mother Church flourished without government aid. .. This generation of laity – our generation — will be challenged to carry out a “New Evangelization” that demands the Corporal Works of Mercy like nothing we have seen in our lifetime. “Giving of our substance, not just our excess,” will become our daily bread

  35. Jim Couts says:

    The Pro-Life movement seems to have lost some support and credibility lately evidenced by the main line media giving fair treatment to the “opposition.” That’s new. In the past it was just too risky to grant equal time to advocates of women’s health and women’s reproductive rights. The Komen Foundation fiasco de-funding and then re-funding Planned Parenthood contributed to their problems – but I think there’s more. Many are genuinely concerned about attempts to push legislation in Virginia described as “state sponsored rape” requiring a doctor to insert a probe into a woman’s body without her permission. The current political rhetoric coming out of the Republican primaries adds to the loss of confidence in the movement. “This is the land of the free, so long as you abide by my ‘Christian’ values’ strikes fear in the hearts of those with even a superficial knowledge of the U.S. Constitution.

    And then, of course, there was the controversy over Catholic institutions being required to provide free coverage for contraceptives for employees under the Affordable Health Care Plan. It became clear that the controversy was in part manufactured by the Catholic Church for the benefit of it’s candidate, Rick Santorum. And it worked – Santorum won three state primaries because “social values” floated to the top of the sewage pit of Republican primary politics. This, combined with the Bishops proving themselves to be totally out of touch with reality, has proven to be a public relations disaster for the Catholic Church and for the Pro-Life movement. Even more, nearly every person I know commented on the irony of the Catholic Church criticizing the Obama Administration for attacking religious liberty. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! The Catholic Church itself has silenced many of its most brilliant theologians for promoting teaching that was counter to the company line.

    Finally, people are increasingly turned off by the powerful partnership of the Protestant Evangelicals and the Roman Catholic hierarchy thumbing its nose at the First Amendment. Again there is irony found in this unholy bond. These two groups, Catholics and Evangelicals, have nothing in common theologically. In the Middle Ages they would have burned one another at the stake, all in the name of God. Of course that was long before the current Pro-Life movement which would never, ever burn anyone at the stake. That would be very un-Pro-Life of them, unless of course it involved assassinating an abortion doctor.

    Thank heavens it’s beginning to feel safe again, quoting the great Casey Stengel, “to call a spade a goddamn spade.” The Pro-Life Movement is a fraud no different from the Salem Witch Trials that were based entirely on the illegal acquisition of property made possible by the demonization and victimization of women; it too was carried out by an earlier version of the religious right. No, this time its not actual property they’re after – though keeping women in a state of being “property” is one of the outcomes. The spoils realized by the Pro-Lifers are: (1) political clout, (2) mountains of money from donors, and (3), that wonderful “high” that comes from feeling more “righteous” than all those folks who know the ethics surrounding this issue are extremely complex and maybe, just maybe, allowing a woman to make her own choice is the best we can do in this very imperfect world.

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