Fighting the Good Fight for Religious Freedom

One part of the HHS mandate sadly goes into effect today.

You probably know all about the mandate by now.  It’s the decree from the Secretary of Health and Human Services that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employer health care plans to include contraceptive services for women, including drugs called abortifacients. Although, in America’s finest tradition, the bill allows an exemption for religious reasons, it presumes to define just what a church’s ministry must be to qualify, a dramatic and unprecedented intrusion into the integrity of all faiths.  My brother bishops and I – in welcome collaboration with other religious leaders – think that this mandate is wrong and misguided and have tried to work with the Administration to correct it.

What’s most troubling about the HHS mandate is that it carves out a religious exemption that is so narrowly drawn that most Catholic agencies – including Catholic Charities, hospitals, nursing homes, universities, and potentially many others – would not qualify.

How does a Catholic or other religious entity qualify for this exemption?  It must be a non-profit organization under certain IRS guidelines, and must meet all of the following criteria:

  1.  The inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the organization;
  2. The organization primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the organization;
  3. The organization serves primarily persons who share the religious tenets of the organization.

Got that?  The federal government is graciously allowing your parish church to consider itself Catholic.  But, not much else would qualify.


A Catholic hospital founded and still sponsored by nuns, striving to carry out our Savior’s command to care for the sick?  Sorry, not Catholic enough.  No religious freedom here!  After all, its purpose is not the inculcation of religious values, and it hardly asks for a person’s religion before admitting a patient.

A Catholic Charities homeless shelter, providing a bed, a shower, and a nutritious meal?  Sorry, not Catholic enough.  No religious freedom here!  After all, it serves all seeking help, regardless of their religious beliefs.  (Would the government prefer us to turn away anyone who can’t produce a baptismal certificate and recite the Nicene Creed?)

A Catholic high school founded and still run by a religious order, which has proudly educated young men, preparing them to succeed in college, in the work place, as husbands and fathers?   Sorry, not Catholic enough.   No religious freedom here!  After all, the student populations is more than 50% non-Catholic.

Yes, the Archdiocese of New York has joined dozens of others in filing a lawsuit against the administration and HHS, arguing that the mandate is unconstitutional.  And, yes, the administration has granted a one-year reprieve to religious agencies whose conscience would be violated by this mandate.  (That’s right – the government acknowledges that this will be a problem for many religious agencies.  But their response is, essentially, “too bad.”)

What will happen when the year is up?

I suppose one option would be for those agencies to stop offering health insurance to their employees, and pay a $2000 per employee penalty.  While some would argue that the agencies would, in fact, save money by choosing this option, it hardly seems to be the right and just way to treat your co-workers, does it?

Another option is to continue to offer health insurance, but, honoring our conscience, not include these objectionable services.   There would be a $100 fine per day for each person who qualified for the coverage.  Let’s assume that an agency has 50 people for which it would be subject to this penalty.    At $100 per day, per person, over the course of the year it would pay a penalty of $1,825,000.  ($100 x 50 people x 365 days).  That’s a steep penalty from the government in order to try and convince religious agencies to turn their back on their conscience. That’s money that will then not go to serve those in need.  Many of our services could not survive this heavy penalty.

A third option, I suppose, is to capitulate and accept the strangling mandate…I don’t want to go there.  We just finished a Fortnight for Freedom, and the saints we honored – Saint Thomas More, Saint John Fisher, Saint John the Baptist, Saints Peter and Paul – would not want us to go there, either.

Over the course of the coming year, the effort to protect religious liberty and the freedom of conscience will continue.  In the end, this is not about bishops, it is not about Catholics, it is not about contraceptives.  It is about the ideals our nation was founded upon: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.  You can’t do much better than the First Amendment to the Constitution.  The founding fathers got it right.  The HHS mandate gets it wrong.  We are fighting to correct that wrong, in order to make sure that religious freedom continues for the generations to come after us.

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106 Responses to “Fighting the Good Fight for Religious Freedom”

  1. Timothy Hester says:

    Your Eminence,
    Is there not a final option? Don’t the organizations have the option, drastic though it is, of dismissing all non-Catholics affiliated with it? I ask this with somewhat of a chuckle because I know that we would never do that. I teach theology in a Catholic high school and have happily done so for the past 8 years. Cardinal Hickey once said “we teach not because they [students] are Catholic, but because WE are”. But, it seems to me that it might come to something like that. I can tell you that I would rather work for a secular employer who has capitulated on this important issue than to know that I was working for my own Church and She went along. Oh well, we shall all continue to pray.

  2. Mary Ellen Werner says:

    I hope that the administration will loosen those unfortunate guidelines. How could something be not religious enough when it is founded and guided by a religious order? Maybe it is a little nasty, but I say pay the penalty of $2K per employee and don’t offer insurance at all. You probably wouldn’t draw the best employees, though. This is a sad situation and I pray it is solved with satisfaction for the church.

  3. Tom Perna says:

    Thanks for a clear understanding of this atrocity. I have written about this tyrannical mandate myself. We are with you and will support the Bishops and other religious leaders the best we can.

  4. James F. Marsh says:

    Stand firm. The call of Jesus Christ is higher than man’s call or satan’s firey darts. Hold up your shield of faith and put on the full armor of God. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and we love not our lives unto the death. jim

  5. Jim Cowan says:

    Your Eminence, a fourth option would be to close all institutions that fall in scope of the HHS dictate. The martyrs chose death over capitulation to a secular tyrant. In essence, the current administration has left us with few if any viable options.

  6. Mary says:

    How about the Follow-Our-Faith Option: Catholics must vote for a pro-life President on Nov. 6.

  7. Michael Langlois says:

    It is truly time for faithful Catholics in America to step up to the plate and do everything they can think of to reverse this secular invasion of the Church’s longstanding ministry. Sadly, many people will not think it is an issue because they don’t realize it is just one more stage in the gradual erosion of their religious freedom and moral integrity.
    I pray that the Catholic Church in the U.S, under the courageous leadership of Cardinal Dolan, will stand tall against this intrusion and I intend to do all in my power to support it.
    It is certainly politically incorrect, but one initial step might be to publicy excommunicate all the Catholic public and political figures responsible for this atrocity against the Church.

  8. ProLIFEmommyof2 says:

    Dear Cardinal Dolan,

    It is with a most heavy, heavy heart that I am writing you today. I am absolutely astounded by your decision to invite Barack Obama to the Catholic Charities annual fundraising event, a decision that will certainly cause confusion amongst voting catholics across this nation come November.

    He, along with his administration, has made their position ABUNDANTLY clear. Have you forgotten what happened regarding the same-sex marriage decision in New York? I believe it was YOU, who said, “We were deceived. Shame on us for believing them.”

    You talk in this blog post about “fighting” against this HHS mandate. Cardinal, there is one sure fire way to put an end to this, and that is through the voting booth.

    I pray that you will have the courage to turn your attention away from politicians who clearly have an agenda and say what so desperately needs to be said to your flock:
    “This administration has disqualified themselves from our vote.”

    One way to show this in action would be to deny Barack Hussein Obama a place of honor, a platform with which to speak, at a fundraising event aimed at raising money for the very people HE says are a “punishment:” children. The VERY people he has NO problem with leaving on a table to DIE if they happened to be born alive after a failed abortion.

    Please! I pray that you will “BE NOT AFRAID,” to do what is right…
    God Bless you!

  9. Mireya Geilin says:

    This is truly a sad day, but it has to energize us to fight this administration and overturn the law. Please consider conducting voter registration drives at every parish nationwide to make sure every Catholic casts a vote in November. And may the Holy Spirit bless you and guide you, in Jesus’ name. Mireya

  10. thomas tucker says:

    A hearty AMEN!

  11. Irene says:

    But, happily, a lot of really good parts of the mandate also go into effect today, like fully covered mammograms, well woman visits, domestic violence screening and support.

    While it’s important to keep pointing out the problems with the law, please let’s not forget all of the wonderful new benefits which are going to save a great many women’s lives.

  12. Ave Maria

    There is no doubt that we need to continue the fight for religious freedom-to regain our religious freedom which is being lost before our very eyes. There needs to be action on all fronts. But the most important element which we need is prayer. Yes persistant and humble prayer. There will be no victory without it no matter what magificient plans are presented.

    We propose to turn to Our Lady and her rosary as many generations have done over the centuries. We can readily recall Mary interceding throughout the past 2000 years when crisis of various sorts arose. Catholic and Christians turning to Christ through and with Our Lady and her rosary has and will continue to turn the tide for truth, for Christ.

    Jesus gave Mary to us, to you as he hung on the cross on that Good Friday. We only need to imitate St. John to take Mary into our homes, into our lives and let ourselves be molded by her into saints! Her only concern is to lead us to Jesus. Her words can be best summed up simply as she did at the wedding at Cana “Do whatever He tells you.”

    Friends, the rosary is so powerful. Bring out those beads and pray daily with Mary as she has the key to the heart of Jesus. May will unlock his Heart for you and and our nation and world. There will be an ocean of His mercy and His love and a tidal wave of true transformation will take place which will change the culture of death into a culture of love so desired by JPII and Pope Benedict XVI. We have the key to victory. We have the tool to convert hearts. It is the rosary which always leads us to Christ.

    Let there be a stupendous spititual revival. Jesus gave himself to you as He died. And with His last words gave Mary to you.

    What is our response at this critical time in our nation and world. There is no time to wait or to consult or to have meetings to brainstorm. It is all quite simple. We already know the solution. It is the simple awesome beautiful prayer of the rosary. For the Resurrection will certainly follow Good Friday.

    The victory is assured. Be not afraid. We only need to read the scriptures.

    For now, let each of us dust off our rosaries and begin a mighty rosary crusade across the nation. Let us now delay for the present moment is the right moment. It is now up to us – to you and me.

    Jesus and Mary love you and so do we.

  13. Nick says:

    Why not not pay the fine for doing charitable activities, since an evil law is no law at all?

    I mean, the worst the government could do then is strengthen the Church and increase her charitable activities via persecution.

  14. Nick says:

    How simple is the First Amendment, and yet how confusing and deceptive are the government’s justification for imposing the rules. “Yes, that’s your religious exercise, but it really is not fair or reasonable. Heck, your rules are akin to wanting to use snakes in healing people and we would never allow that!!! So, very sorry (we actually are not sorry), but yea, this religious exemption is just not feasible.” Yet I am not so disturbed that an avowed socialist like Obama would push this. What really appalls and disturbs me is the masses of deceived people who go along with this reasoning

  15. Mermaz says:

    You are forgetting the individual’s freedom of conscience. No employer should be forced to violate his conscience. Thankfully, Hercules Industries is fighting for the rest of us. I wish the Catholic church would engage in more of the fight on behalf of individual rights.

  16. Bender says:

    Meanwhile, Your Eminence, what is the response of Congress to this attack on fundamental liberties and the dignity of the human person, Catholic and non-Catholic alike? What is the response of those in Congress who CLAIM to be opposed to this?

    Well, I read this in the news — “House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was busy forging an agreement with Reid today to pass a six-month continuing budget resolution when they return from recess in September.”

    So, the response of Speaker John Boehner is to put together a backroom deal to pass legislation that will, yet again, continue funding ObamaCare, as well as providing funding for enforcement of the contraceptive mandate.

    And, you can be sure, that Boehner will then advocate passing such a Contraceptive Mandate Enforcement Funding Act, insisting that letting the government shut-down would be worse that trashing people’s liberties and trampling on their consciences.

    The ONLY check and balance that opponents in Congress have is the “power of the purse,” yet Boehner is throwing it away.

    Please contact the Speaker and tell him — NO. NOT ONE MORE DIME must be spent that will permit this travesty to continue.

  17. R. Hrlic says:

    And why is Obama invited to speak at the Al Smith dinner by a Roman Catholic Cardinal?????

    It will definitely be sending mixed signals to all of the world and possibly get him back into office.

  18. Jason says:

    It really ticks me off – even if I wasn’t Catholic, this would really tick me off.

    Not Catholic enough? How about priests deny Sebellius Holy Communion by saying the same thing! “Not Catholic enough, sorry Kathleen.”

    Good grief. I am so sick of everything having to be secular at all possible costs. I’ll stop there…I don’t feel like going to confession this week for acting uncharitably.

  19. Tim Weinmann says:

    Cardinal Dolan, There is a fourth option and it’s called civil disobedience. Once we’ve exhausted all other options, then these organizations should continue operating. Build self insuring organizations regardless of what the government says. Force the government to come in and physically drag employees out of their places of business and put them in jail. Let’s call the governments bluff. Yes, this is a drastic measure and it should clearly be the option of last resort. But it should be considered, discussed, and plans put in place, openly and publically. And the faithful need to be prepared so that if and when that option becomes the only option, we are ready to make that kind of sacrifice to fight for our religious freedom.

  20. Bill says:

    Fourth option: don’t capitulate, don’t pay the fine; see if the gov’t will confiscate property of go to jail. Politcal prisoners in the USA! Oh, how the country is a changing.

  21. Randy L. Rainey says:

    Please, Cardinal Dolan, do not give in to this. Our Savior is watching! Blessings and Love to you!

  22. Jeffrey Quick says:

    Fourth option: Provide the services, refuse to pay the fines, call the believers in to defend the Church’s property when the tropps come to seize it for non-payment. The State should not be allowed to hide its violence under our good will.

  23. Heather Wilson says:

    Please, please, please do not believe this right wing, propaganda. Thank God Obama Cares. The “assault on religious freedom” hysteria is a contrived, right wing, political maneuver to further the conservative agenda to diminish women’s rights. All you have to do is listen to the hysterical republican politicians saying August 1 is equivalent to the day Pearl Harbor was invaded or 9/11. Give me a break!! Read the following from 170 lawyers who have debunked this attack on religious freedom myth:

    We are law professors concerned about the Constitution, religious freedom, individual liberty, and gender equality. Today, the egalitarian notion that every American deserves to enjoy religious freedom is under attack from those who would cede employees’ religious-liberty rights to corporate executives and nonprofit directors. In this cramped and one-sided view of religious freedom, supervisors are entitled to decide, based on their religious sentiments, whether their employees will be permitted to enjoy essential health benefits without the slightest concern for their religious beliefs. In particular, advocates claim that the Constitution gives all employers the right to veto their employees’ health-insurance coverage of contraception.
    This view, which is espoused by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and others, is both wrong as a matter of law and profoundly undemocratic. Nothing in our nation’s history or laws permits a boss to impose his or her religious views on non- consenting employees. Indeed, this nation was founded upon the basic principle that every individual – whether company president or assistant janitor – has an equal claim to religious freedom.

    You can read the full article here:

    Please try to open your minds, stop being brainwashed by Fox drivel and US Bishops who have been co-opted by the immoral religious right who count on the ignorance of meek sheep.

  24. Greenman says:

    Thank You, Cardinal Dolan. You break the text down well enough for me to understand. I always try to catch your letters. Be assured of my families’ prayers. It seems like everyone has a horse in this race. Everything that went unspoken for years is now out in the open. The outcome is sure, but until then it will not be pretty. God grant you His wisdom in these trying times.

  25. We must fight this “HEAD ON” or we are doomed as a “Christian” Nation. All will be lost if we fail!!!

  26. raymond klaes says:

    I ask you to advise us of the sinfullness of compling with this mandate. The bishops and priests have an obligation to teach us about sin not about what is constitutionally or financially

  27. Katie says:

    Why would Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York invite the man (Barrack Obama) who supports taking away our religious liberties to speak at a Catholic Charities fundraiser, the Al Smith Dinner? Is it because of tradition with a lower case t. If we are not careful then soon our Tradition with a capital T will be taken away. What is the price Catolic Charities is willing to betray the Catholic Church, 30 pieces of silver? Cardinal Dolan I urge you to not allow president Obama to speak at the Al Smith dinner!

  28. Todd says:


    Your Excellency,

    My prayers are with you.

    I am a convert to the faith of 14+ years and I am from a Jewish family.

    Please, please, please ignore the man in power who cares nothing for anyone and only for himself. Everything that he does i.e. HHS mandate, homosexual marriage, immigration allowing illegals to stay in the country, are clearly directed to consolidate his hold on power. Anyone who is following what he is doing will be able to see this. ***Please do not close down any of the churches services because that is exactly what he wants***. He wants full, and compete control. Do not negotiate with him. He cannot be trusted!!!!!!!

    God Bless You.

  29. MaryGr says:

    Your invite of President Obama to the Al Smith dinner is a scandalous confusion, in my opinion. Are all your advisors progressive democrats? Kennedy Catholics formed after Vatican II and raised on peace and justice issues — not so much on abortion. What will it take to convert you? You relied on Albany advisors and gay marriage became law. You were deceived by Obama with a promise of conscience rights. And the sponsor of this fat cat feast is Catholic Charities. Despite its good work, its leadership is much more in line with Sr. Carol Keehan than with Bishop Sheen. Please, all you have to do is remind Catholics to pray, fast and ELECT A PRO-LIFE PRESIDENT ON NOV 6. Not one who wants to sterilize the population and force Catholics to pay for it.

  30. Ferde Rombola says:

    I agree with those who say civil disobediance is the answer in the (unlikely) event the Supreme Court gets this one wrong, too. Are our bishops ready to go to jail over this issue? I hope so. I’m ready.

  31. John says:

    We should be discussing the option of civil disobedience, as others have stated here. It’s a drastic step, and we need to be sure all other options have been exhausted. We need to pray fervently that a way will be made clear to avoid this step. But in the end, we may have no option. As others have said, perhaps we should keep the ministries open, self-insure, and refuse to pay the fine. Perhaps it is time.

  32. AndyP/Doria2 says:

    We are missing a huge teaching moment here. Yes, the government violates our constitutional rights Cardinal Dolan but there are mountains of evidence on the damage that the contraceptive mentality has wreaked on society such as the following:

    Contraception: the ‘common ground’ that devastates family life by Phil Lawler, May 27, 2009

    You’ll be notified of the latest commentary and significant additions to this site!
    [In his commencement address at Notre Dame, President Obama suggested that advocates and opponents of abortion should find common ground in a campaign to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Although he did not flesh out that suggestion, he clearly intended to suggest more aggressive promotion of contraceptives. That option should be recognized as unacceptable– not just by Catholics, but by anyone attuned to the prescripts of natural law and indeed the realities of modern life. More than a decade has passed since I published the op-ed below; it originally appeared in several US newspapers as the world marked the 30th anniversary of the prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae. The fundamental argument has not changed, but I would contend that today the evidence is still more powerfully in support of my conclusion: that the widespread acceptance of contraception has had a devastating effect on American family life.] A generation ago, American politicians debated about the Cold War and the Vietnam conflict, the problems of poverty and racism, and the challenges of the space program. But back in 1968, did anyone forecast that we would soon be talking about a general breakdown in ordinary family life? Yes, someone did. Some 30 years ago, Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae an encyclical letter which upheld the time-tested Christian teaching that artificial contraception is morally wrong. In 1968, Pope Paul worried that:

    … a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument of the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

    Today, in the midst of an epidemic of domestic abuse, thoughtful people ought to ask: Was Pope Paul right or wrong? And if contraception became widely accepted, Pope Paul asked:
    Who will blame a government which… resorts to the same measures that are regarded as lawful by married people …? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. Today the government of China stands accused of requiring abortions for women who have already fulfilled their one-child quota, the Peruvian government has sterilized illiterate women without their consent, and massive population programs funded by our own federal government have been accused of employing deception and coercion. Again, was Pope Paul right or wrong? Many people forget— and many more are too young to remember— how radically the introduction of the birth-control pill changed popular thinking, and altered our approach to sexuality. Not long ago, moral leaders of EVERY description condemned contraception, and agreed that if the practice ever became widespread, it would inevitably lead to disaster.

    Consider, for example, the words of Mohandas Gandhi:
    There is hope for a decent life only so long as the sexual act is definitely related to the conception of precious life.

    Or listen to Sigmund Freud:
    Moreover, it is a characteristic common to all perversions that in them reproduction is put aside as an aim. This is actually the criterion by which we judge whether a sexual activity is perverse– if it departs from reproduction as its aim and pursues the attainment of gratification independently.

    In 1930, when the leaders of the Church of England broke from the previously universal Christian consensus, and allowed for the use of contraceptives, a Washington Post editorial lamented that the move “would sound the death knell of marriage as a holy institution by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality.”
    Gandhi, Freud, and the Washington Post were obviously not promoting a “Catholic” or “Christian” position. Their opposition to contraception was based on a simple, age-old understanding of human nature. In the 1960s Americans ignored such warnings, and plunged headlong into the sexual revolution. Now, with the casualties of that revolution visible all around us, are we still foolish enough to believe that THIS generation has understands human nature– and in particular human sexuality– better than all its predecessors?

    Long after he helped to introduce the birth-control pill, Dr. Robert Kistner of Harvard Medical School began to understand the forces he had helped to unleash. “For years I thought the pill would not lead to promiscuity, but I’ve changed my mind,” he confessed. “I think it probably has.” Once again, Pope Paul VI had foreseen the problem:

    Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that men—–and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation– need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law.

    The famous “Moynihan Report” of 1965 saw a crisis in family life among Black Americans, because 23.7% of black children were born out of wedlock. By today’s standards, that statistic looks tame. In 1996– despite the contraceptives that spilled off the shelves of every pharmacy– that figure had soared to a catastrophic 70.4% for black children, and 25.5% for whites.
    With divorce rates also climbing, more and more young children are growing up without the support of their parents. (Among married couples who do not use contraceptives, the rate of divorce is a negligible 2%.) In 1965 more than three-quarters of all American newborns came home to a married mother and father and (except when death intervened) remained in that household through childhood; by 1990 that figure had slipped below one-half. Few social scientists dispute the gravity of these trends. Children who grow up in a single-parent household are more likely to fail in school, more likely to experiment with drugs, more likely to commit crimes, more likely to spend time in prison.

    In the past 30 years our federal government has invested $4 trillion in social programs designed to treat the consequences of a breakdown in family life: the nagging problems of poverty, illiteracy, and crime; the steady rise in drug abuse and sexual promiscuity; the frightening increase in child abuse and domestic violence. Can anyone possibly be satisfied with the returns on that investment?

    Is there any limit to the amount of money we shall spend on government programs that treat the symptoms of family breakdown, before we finally admit the need to address the underlying disease? How many families will be broken, and how many young lives will be scarred, before we admit that the solution to family problems lies not in condoms but in chastity?
    If contraception is a leading cause of family breakdown, then we are pouring fuel on the fire with condom giveaways, and exporting our problems to the Third World through family-planning programs. And if contraception is not to blame for the burgeoning crisis in American family life, can anyone offer a better explanation?

    Link –

    There is much much more such as Humanae Vitae that predicted all of this. Why is this not shouted fron every pulpit in the world?

  33. John Fisher says:

    So the correct option is refuse to pay and keep refusing to pay. Go to prison and still refuse to submit. It worked during the day of the civil rights moevment. It worked for Nelson Madela.

  34. Bill says:

    Citizens have the freedom to choose where they are employed. Therefore, private (and we all claim the right to privacy) entities are able to establish their religious preferences within the confines of their own operations. Morality within Churches or other private concerns do not threaten anyone’s life. Thus, there is no unjust imposition. Liberty is preserved by opportunities to work elsewhere, and the pursuit of happiness is consequently preserved. Claiming that people are imposing their religious belief on others in the ecclesiastical realm is pure sophistry. Using words like “extreme” and “hysteria” is manipulative and contrived in and of itself. A bit of projection, no doubt. Wait, is there a movement afoot to “legislate morality” by government pretense? Allow people to associate and legislate their own lives, provided they do not do violence to just principles of life. Oh, wait, isn’t that already being done, in the womb?

  35. Irene says:

    I am so pleased to see our President and the Republican candidate will participate in the Al Smith Dinner; this will do a lot to raise money for that important charity.

  36. Cathy says:

    I do have a suggestion for posters at the Al Smith dinner, posters of Tanya Reaves and the date she died at Planned Parenthood with a simple question, “Mr. Obama, does she look like your daughter?” Perhaps you might invite, as well, Dr. Alan Keyes, one of the Notre Dame 88 who were imprisoned for protesting the honor given to Obama, to speak. If one is so compelled to honor this man with a speaking engagement, I hope you feel equally compelled not to make it too comfortable for him.

  37. Anthony Zarrella says:

    For the poster(s) who are trying to re-characterize this as *Catholic employers* trying to force *their* views on people, there is a critical flaw in your argument:

    There is a difference between preventing someone from getting something, and merely refusing to provide it for them. I may not be able to *stop* a friend from smoking, but no one can force me to buy him cigarettes (or give him money to buy them).
    To the best of my knowledge, no Catholic employer is even *attempting* to directly prohibit employees from obtaining contraception – they’re just refusing to buy it for them (or facilitate their purchase). In the abortion context (an argument for another day), pro-choicers always say, “Well, if you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one,” but in this situation, Catholics are doing exactly that (saying, “We don’t believe in contraception, so we’re not buying it”), but opponents are saying, “That’s not good enough! We don’t just want you to *let* us get contraception – you have to *give* it to us!”
    The Church has never made any secret of its position on contraception (and, let’s not forget, abortifacient drugs and sterilizations). No one is forced to take a job working for the Church, or for any of its subsidiaries, or for any company run by faithful Catholics. Presumably, every such employee had a chance to review the offered health coverage before taking the job, and could have seen that it didn’t have contraception covered. Don’t like that? Don’t take the job. To choose to take the job and then complain about what you’re not getting is just disingenuous. If you want to be guaranteed contraceptive coverage, find a job with an employer who doesn’t object.

    In summary, there is *no* coercion on the part of the Church or Catholic employers. There is *no* employee who is being *prevented* from following her own conscience on contraceptive issues. They just have to follow their own consciences on their own dime. It’s no more “coercive” to simply refuse to cover contraception (but still allow them to get it themselves) than it is to tell employees who smoke, “Go ahead and smoke, but not on company property.”

  38. Don says:

    A picture is worth a thousand words, and the pictures that will be forthcoming from the Al Smith dinner–namely, Cardinal Dolan laughing it up with Barack Obama–will send the message to Catholics that “all is well.” Make no mistake, these pictures will be plastered in the New York Times, USA Today, and on all the major television networks–and right before the election. Very likely, this will again cause a majority of Catholics to vote for a pro-abortion candidate. All of Cardinal Dolan’s heretofore noble efforts on behalf of the unborn and religious liberty will mean nothing.

    Barack Obama is a proven enemy of the Church, yet Cardinal Dolan is going to honor him. Would Cardinal Dolan invite a pro-segregration candidate to the dinner? Would he invite a candidate who supports the murder of the homeless? Ah, but it’s only babies that Obama believes in killing, and to date, only 50 million have been murdered. No big deal.

    Please read the following story from LifeSite News:

    At the bottom of the story is Cardinal Dolan’s email. Please pray, and then write a respectful letter to Cardinal Dolan asking him to rescind this invitation.

    God help us.

  39. Joel says:

    A picture is worth a thousand words: Cardinal Dolan, smiling, next to Obama will help him to be reelect.

  40. Mary Dilworth says:

    It blows my mind when some people say we are thrusting our beliefs on the employees. It is just the opposite in that any present health plans offered by employers that do not contain provisions for sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives will be required by the government to include them. So who is forcing whom?? The government is making employers violate their consciences by denying them the right to practice their religious beliefs which is guaranteed by the consititution. The constitution does not guarantee anyone the right to have their employer provide sterilizations, or contraceptives, or abortion-inducing drugs. It is NOT so! So can any limit be put on the government’s imposing anything under penalty of paying a tax for non-compliance.? It is frightening to imagine where this is heading. Therefore we must get the legislature to repeal this mandate or not fund the “Affordable” Care Act, which is extremely costly and start all over to reform our health care system and the tax code.

  41. Middleman15 says:

    Yes, congratulations on inviting President Obama. This is definitely a huge step in the right direction.

  42. Mary Sorensen says:

    Cardinal Dolan, remember that you said “We will not comply”? Therefore, the ONLY option is business as usual – and ignore the fines and penalties – don’t pay them! And, for heaven’s sake, do NOT close down any Catholic services. Not one! Just continue business as usual. If it means jail time, they’ll have to come in with a SWAT team to drag you and your brother bishops off to jail. That will help the average American see what is actually going on. There is no better way to evangelize the masses than to take up this cross. Along with many other faithful Catholics, I stand ready to be dragged off to jail, if necessary, to protect our religious freedom. You are in my prayers!

  43. Mary says:

    When all other options, including the federal lawsuits, have been exhausted, then civil disobedience is the next step. We will refuse to comply with the mandate, and we will refuse to consent to the law by refusing to paying the fine.

  44. Walter says:

    Cardinal Dolan…I would force the issue and not wait the year…this “one year” reprieve is a trick to buy time…so regardless of the option you select, you should select it now, months before the election. Do not be concerned about saving the Church…you cannot save the Church…our Lord promised to protect the Church…so I stress to you to go forward now…Cardinal Dolan our “catholic” Governor said, when passing same-sex marriage, that some people throw rocks into a pond and make ripples, with same-sex marriage he says he throw a boulder into the pond that would ripple around the world…well it’s time for you, Cardinal Dolan, to throw the Cross of Christ onto the entire earth…do it now…a greater good will come out of this evil situation forced upon the Church…God Bless you.

  45. Jason says:

    I respectfully ask what kind of message the Cardinal is sending when, on the heels of this evil, he is inviting the president to the Al Smith dinner. I could understand if the Contraception Mandate didn’t exist and if Obama was a little less supportive of child killing. When we have millions of poorly catechized Catholics confused about the issues – and the Catholic vote was critical in the president’s election the first time – how is it at all helpful to inform the conscience of the Catholic voter when the president is invited to a premier Catholic event in NY? My fear is that countless American Catholics will think 1) the HHS Mandate must not be so bad, and 2) if Obama’s views on abortion were against Catholic teaching, why would the top Catholic in the US personally invite him to a charity event? I honestly think the timing was horrible and this will be a mistake we’re forced to live with for another four years. I honestly think for this one time, in an election year, neither candidate should have been invited so as to take politics completely out of it. I’m sorry, but it really hurts – I’m a convert and my Protestant family continuously looks at our “Catholic” politicians – and the bishops who do nothing about the open heresy in their dioceses – and they say, “You see? You Catholics .” Such tremendous scandal…and I’m left speechless to defend my Church when there seems to be no end of this confusion in sight.

  46. Don Ross says:

    Cardinal Dolan, How can you continue to fight Obama on the Mandate and then welcome him to the Joseph Smith dinner? How hypocritical can you get. I know that Jesus ate with sinners but that was in hopes of Converting them. You don’t realy think you can convert Obama do you?

  47. JohnG says:


    I agree with “ProLIFEmommyof 2”, “R.Hrlic”, “Katie”, and “MaryGr”. The invitation to President Obama to appear at and address the Al Smith Dinner is a scandal. It shows that the leadership of the Catholic Church is weak and not willing to stand up for its beliefs. It is really disillusioning to the faithful. Whoever issued the invitation should be fired.

    Is it not inappropriate for the Archbishop of New York, who is also the President of the USCCB, to appear on the dais at a Catholic function with a politician who is strongly Pro-Abortion, an opponent of the Defense of Marriage Act, and who would like to put most or all of Catholic Charities in the United States out of business? Such action would make your recent statements on the HHS mandate, etc. appear to be disingenuous. It would also undermine your pro-life, pro-marriage, pro- religious liberty actions and those of some of your fellow Bishops.

    Suppose that Pro-Life Organizations picketed the Al Smith Dinner. That would not really be out of line. Who would be most embarrassed?

  48. Sir Louis says:

    Your Eminence, I know it is a tradition to invite the presidential candidates to the Al Smith dinner every four years, but I haven’t seen any authoritative statement that Messrs Obama and Romney have been invited. One columnist for the National Catholic Reporter says on his blog that he has confirmed that Mr Obama has been invited, but I find it difficult to believe that you, or the Foundation, or Catholic Charities, would allow it. Assuming Mr Obama is not going to be invited, it would be well if an authoritative statement saying so is made as soon as possible, to stop the divisive yelling before it gets any louder.

  49. nanato8 says:

    Cardinal Dolan,
    What a wonderful campaign tool the photo opt of Obama with you and all of the New York Catholic elites will be! I can’t wait to see the political ads with those pics here in Ohio! He will get back in office with the Catholic vote just as he did in 2008. Thank you very much!

  50. Jim Montine says:

    Inviting President Obama to the Al Smith dinner will completely undermine any efforts being made to fight against the HHS mandate. People will view the event as “although we have our differences we can get along, see that contraception thing is no big deal”. In fact, I think the fact that President Obama is coming is a clear signal that the fight is over.