I Owe You an Update

Over the last six months or so, the Catholic Church in the United States has found itself in some tension with the executive branch of the federal government over a very grave issue:  religious freedom.  Can a government bureau, in this case the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), define for us or any faith community what is ministry and how it can be exercised?  Can government also coerce the church to violate its conscience?

I wanted to let you, the great people of the archdiocese, know how we’re doing in this fight.  Thank you for your extraordinary unity, support, and encouragement.  Throughout all the archdiocese, our people – both as patriotic citizens and committed Catholics — have been very effective in letting government know that we are not at peace at all with this attempt to curtail the  freedom of religion and sanctity of conviction we cherish as both Catholics and Americans.

This has not been a fight of our choosing.  We’d rather not be in it.  We’d prefer to concentrate on the noble tasks of healing the sick, teaching our youth, and helping the poor, all now in jeopardy due to this bureaucratic intrusion into the internal life of the church.  And we were doing all of those noble works rather well, I dare say, without these radical new mandates from the government.  The Catholic Church in America has a long tradition of partnership with government and the wider community in the service of the sick, our children, our elders, and the poor at home and abroad.  We’d sure rather be partnering than punching.

Nor is this a “Catholic” fight alone.  As a nurse from Harrison emailed me, “Cardinal, I’m not so much mad about all this as a Catholic, but as an American.”  It was a Baptist minister, Governor Mike Huckabee, who observed, “In this matter, we’re all Catholics.”

And it is not just about sterilization, abortifacients, and chemical contraception.  Pure and simple, it’s about religious freedom, the sacred right, protected by our constitution, of any Church to define its own teaching and ministry.

When the President announced on January 20th that the choking mandates from HHS would remain — a shock to me, since he had personally assured me that he would do nothing to impede the good work of the Church in health care, education, and charity, and that he considered the protection of conscience a sacred duty — not only you, but men and women of every faith, or none at all, rallied in protest.  The worry that we bishops had expressed — that such government control was contrary to our deepest political values — was eloquently articulated by constitutional scholars and leaders of every creed.  Even newspaper editorials supported us!

On February 10th, the President announced that the insurance providers would have to pay the bill, not the Church’s schools, hospitals, clinics, or vast network of charitable outreach.  He considered this “concession” adequate.

Did this help?  We bishops wondered if it would, and announced at first that, while withholding final judgment, we would certainly give it close scrutiny.

Well, we have — and we’re still as worried as ever.  For one, there was not even a nod to the deeper concerns about trespassing upon religious freedom, or of modifying the HHS’ attempt to define the how and who of our ministry through the suffocating mandates.

Two, since a big part of our ministries are “self-insured,” how is this going to help us?  We’ll still have to pay!  And what about individual believers being coerced to pay?

Three, there was still no resolution about the handcuffs placed upon renowned Catholic charitable agencies, both national and international, and their exclusion from contracts just because they will not refer victims of human trafficking, immigrants and refugees, and the hungry of the world, for abortions, sterilization, or contraception.

So, we have given it careful study.  Our conclusion: we’re still very worried.  There seem far more questions than answers, more confusion than clarity.

Now what to do?

Well, for one, we’ll keep up advocacy and education on the issue.  We continue to tap into your concern as citizens and count on your support.  Regrettably, the unity of the Catholic community has been tempered a bit by those who think the President has listened to us and now we can quit worrying.  You’re sure free to take their advice.  But I hope you’ll listen to your pastors who are still very concerned.

Two, we’ll continue to seek a rescinding of the suffocating mandates that require us to violate our moral convictions — or at least a wider latitude to the exemptions so that churches can be free — and of the rigidly narrow definition of church, minister, and ministry that would prevent us from helping those in need, educating children, and healing the sick who are not Catholic.

The President invited us to “work out the wrinkles,” and we have been taking him seriously.  Unfortunately, this seems to be going nowhere: the White House Press Secretary, for instance, informed the nation that the mandates are a fait accompli (and, embarrassingly for him, commented that we bishops have always opposed Health Care anyway, a charge that is simply scurrilous and insulting). The White House already notified Congress that the dreaded mandates are now published in the Federal Registry “without change.” The Secretary of HHS is widely quoted as saying, “Religious insurance companies don’t really design the plans they sell based on their own religious tenets,” which doesn’t bode well for a truly acceptable “accommodation.”  And a recent meeting between staff of the bishops’ conference and the White House staff ended with the President’s people informing us that the broader concerns of religious freedom — that is, revisiting the straight-jacketing mandates, or broadening the maligned exemption—are all off the table.  Instead, they advised the bishops’ conference that we should listen to the “enlightened” voices of accommodation, such as the recent hardly-surprising but terribly unfortunate editorial in America.  The White House seems to think we bishops are hopelessly out of touch with our people, and with those whom the White House now has nominated as official Catholic teachers.

So, I don’t know if we’ll get anywhere with the executive branch.

Congress offers more hope, with thoughtful elected officials proposing promising legislation to protect what should be so obvious: religious freedom.  As is clear from the current debate in the senate, our opponents are marketing this as a “woman’s health issue.”  Of course, it cannot be reduced to that.  It’s about religious freedom.  (By the way, the Church hardly needs to be lectured about health care for women.  Thanks mostly to our Sisters, the Church is the largest private provider of health care for women and their babies in the country.  Here in New York State, Fidelis, the Medicare/Medicaid insurance provider, owned by the Church, consistently receives top ratings for its quality of service to women and children.)

And the courts offer the most light.  In the recent Hosanna-Tabor ruling, the Supreme Court unanimously and enthusiastically defended the right of a Church to define its own ministry and services, a dramatic rebuff to the administration, but one apparently unheeded by the White House.  Thus, our bishops’ conference and many individual religious entities are working with some top-notch law firms who have told us they feel so strongly about this that they will represent us pro-bono.

So, we have to be realistic and prepare for tough times.  Some, like America magazine,  want us to cave-in and stop fighting, saying this is simply a policy issue; some want us to close everything down rather than comply (In an excellent article, Cardinal Francis George wrote that the administration apparently wants us to “give up for Lent” our schools, hospitals, and charitable ministries); some want us to engage in civil disobedience and be fined; some worry that we’ll have to face a decision between two ethically repugnant choices: subsidizing immoral services or no longer offering insurance coverage, a road none of us wants to travel.

Sorry to go on at such length.  You can see how passionately I feel about this.  But, from what I sense, you do too.  You all have been such an inspiration, and I owe it to you to keep you posted.  We need you more than ever!  We can’t give up hoping, praying, trying, and working hard.

Tags: ,

235 Responses to “I Owe You an Update”

  1. Phil Aaron says:

    Cardinal Dolan, it would be a shame if the current controversy over the health care mandate lingers on and becomes a strong factor in the election in Nov 2012. It seems like the President has proposed a fair compromise and it seems to continue the fight indicates simply a play for power.
    It seems that you and the American bishops will have a higher moral ground when the same vigor you show in the question of religious liberty and contraception is shown when its comes to unnecessary wars. We look for Bishops to show leadership in conscious objection to war.
    The moral authority of the US bishops went out the window when the clergy sex abuse was uncovered. It will not be restored by this fight over the heath care mandate…move on

  2. mortimerzilch says:

    Archbishop John Myers is hosting a MEN’s CONVOCATION this Saturday at Seton Hall University and has invited the editor of AMERICA MAGAZINE to be the featured speaker….Dear Cardinal Dolan, perhaps you need to have a sit down talk with Archbishop Myers…it looks like he’s on Obama’s team.

  3. RBJ says:

    Unfortunately, as exampled in a previous post, civil discourse (to say nothing about honest discussions on faith) have few rules when it comes to judging people’s motives. Such extreme comments will achieve the opposite of what they intend and will ultimately drive more people away from the Church.

    It also seems if you advocate policies that assist the poor, sick or oppressed; it must be the devil’s work. In my generation Catholic faith and works centered around a more just society; civil rights, and concern for our neighbors. Now we seems that we only care about ourselves.

    It should be noted that this past Christmas the Pope warned against the materialism of the West, and called for greater re-distribution of wealth, and alms for the poor. A fact most ultra-conservative (calling for the removal of certain bishops) often ignore. Are they saying the Pope should resign.

  4. RBJ says:

    Cardinal Dolan, I wish you the Peace of Christ, I also urge you to help take down the tone of an ever increasing toxic dialogue among members (lay and clerical) of the Church. We should be united in Christ, not calling out members of the clergy, Catholic politicians, or others that we disagree with. If we continue down this path of “rhetorical war” the Church in America will dissolve into nothingness.

    I pray for all that have hate in their hearts, may they see that good people of all faiths and political values have worth.

  5. MaryG says:

    You are leading the Church in America to the end of a 40 year confusion of politics with Truth. Our God has made Pharaoh stubborn. Let us cross the Red Sea without fear.

  6. Sr Nancy Usselmann says:

    Thank you, Cardinal Dolan, for being bold in speaking out within this political climate which is obviously an affront to religious freedom. “The truth will set you free.” These words of Jesus are more apt now than ever. God’s blessings be with you and all who, “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15). Now is the time to truly live what we believe as Christians.

  7. peter ritten says:

    Don’t back up or compromise………..

  8. CatholicMom says:

    @ RBJ

    There are some who say ‘cut out the rhetoric or lose members of the Church’…then there are some who say, ‘Why don’t they say something instead of remaining silent…it will drive away members’.

    In either case each person has a right to stay in the Church or leave, but in my view, the ones who leave are the ones who lose.

    The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ and He promised to send the Paraclete [to guide and protect] until the end of time. John 14:16 ‘And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever.’

    Who would ever leave knowing this? To where shall they go? [John 6:68]

  9. MF says:

    RBJ. Hispanics are smarter than you think. Our faith in the Church is stronger than you think. Our attention span is not as short as some may think. Corner us, and we will choose our faith over anything else.The persona theory is way off base. The Catholic Church is a big supporter of the health care legislation. No one speaks louder than our Church leaders when it comes to providing health care to the poor. Every time a Church leader speaks on the topic of abortion and contraception, he qualifies it by expressing his support for the intent of national healthcare. When it comes to helping the poor, the government being run by Democrats or Republicans has no greater ally than the Catholic Church. Sadly it is the Administration that has betrayed the church by taking the contraception, etc. mandate off the table. We must also look at this in the context of the history of the Church. The Church has not changed it’s views on pro creation in 2000 years. It’s hard for some to accept this and the media has a lot to do with this popular view, but we the people in general sometimes are not as smart as we think we are. We are the new kids on the block. We are the newcomers and the ones that change with the wind. Remember that we change and die like grass and the flowers in the field. Remember also that grass points in whatever direction the wind is blowing. Where would we be without our Rock? God Bless You. MF.

  10. Patricia O'Brien says:

    Thank you, Cardinal Dolan, for remaining firm on these issues. There is more than one violation of the Constitution involved. First and foremost is the denial of our freedom of religion under the first amendment. But there is also coercion by the federal government in dictating to private insurance companies what they will and will not cover in their policies. In fact, by bureaucratic fiat.
    Without our Constitutional freedoms, what is the US? Not a place I recognize. We must return to the rule of law, not of bureaucrats. In any case, we are forced to fight this now. Even if we become weary of the fight, we cannot commit grave sin in order to “get along”. There will then be sin after sin after sin. Training abortionists in our “Catholic” facilities, euthanasia, assisted suicide… Why not, if HHS so chooses?
    You have my total support and prayers.

  11. Linda Wulf says:

    Dear Cardinal Dolan,
    May I suggest that we, the Catholic Church, host a “Million Person of Faith March” on Washington similar to MLK’s Million Man March. This would be a sign of unity, a statement of belief that religious liberty is being attacked, and an opportunity for all people of faith to come together to pray for our country. Possible dates… April 15 (Divine Mercy Sunday), May 27 (Pentecost), Aug. 15 (Feast of the Assumption), Sept. 29 (Feast of the Archangels) or Oct. 13 (Miracle of the Sun).
    Thank you for your strong and courageous voice and leadership. “May the Lord grant you peace and every good thing.” (St. Anthony of Padua)

  12. Peter says:

    God Bless you Cardinal Dolan. Proud to say that I am from Wisconsin. Congratulations on your calling to be a Cardinal. Thank you for standing up for the Catholic faith. It would appear some people think THEY know what is best for the Catholic Faith, just like Obama tried to tell you what the Catholic Faith means. I look forward to the Catholic Church’s continued efforts to get lay people involved with Politics. The silence thus far from all of us has led us to this situation and it is high time we start fighting back with our faith. Thank you for standing up for the Scriptures and God.

  13. Laurie Pruser-Stockman says:

    Please keep the faith. We need to protect our religious rights. We need to stand up for the 1st amendment. . this is a war on the Christians of our nation, not a war on women.
    Too long we’ve allowed our government to abuse the 1st amendment all in the name of separation. It says that the government CAN NOT, not the we can not.
    I’m not Catholic but today I am; I stand with the Catholic church and Christians around the world. Too many have died, too many have had to hide their faith, too many have suffered physical abuse because of some government being threatened by our faith.
    Please do not back off, but Fight. . As Dylon Thomas told his father”. . . Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
    Do not let our epitaph read, they gave up without a fight.

  14. RBJ says:

    I wish Cardinal Dolan the Peace of Christ, and although I disagree with how he has framed this issue (as by most standards the administration’s comprise is a solution), I respect him as a true leader of our Church.

    My fear for the Catholic Church, as it sides with the extreme rhetoric of conservative politics in America, that it will loose its’ sensitivity to the poor. A by product of siding with the right on abortion and other social issues (or not compromising policy not principles); is that these same individuals support cuts in medicaid, medicare, student loans, etc.

    On issues of the poor His Holiness the Pope is clear, as stated this Christmas – the West is venturing deeper into materialism and losing its concern for the poor (via deep budget cuts); he has called for the redistribution of wealth.

    Although I would not go as far as the Pope has stated; the Church is obviously walking a very fine line here from matters of Charity. Our hospitals and universities welcome tax breaks, and federal aid for students and patients; but the faithful seem to think that government is too big. You can’t have it both ways.

    I pray for those who have little concern for the poor, that they may regain the spirit of Christ. As St. Ignaitius said “Th give and not count the cost.”

  15. beth ann boehmler says:

    Dear Cardinal Dolan,
    I believe the Catholic Church should embrace every American who believes in the Constitution as its purpose is to guarantee the right to Life and the Liberty to freely practice their Religion without any government constraints. I believe it is the duty and responsibility of the Church to once more lead a world that has fallen into moral decay. The Church has always done this in the past and either willingly or unwillingly it will do it again. In either case we had better, at this moment, harken to Deuteronomy 30; 15-20 which was the Choice God put before Israel.
    I support you for your efforts. I am reminded of Frodo when he was weary and tired and wanted to give up his mission to destroy the ring. We all wish we could be back in our hobbit hole drinking tea in the warm afternoon sun. It’s not going to happen.
    God bless you, Cardinal D. Know that you have the support of all of the devout, orthodox Catholic priests and laypeople that I know. The others; well, in this battle they’re just on the wrong side and God will work it out for them.
    You, myself and all of us who see the battle ahead will not waiver.

  16. RBJ says:

    Cardinal Dolan – I applaud you, and those who are moderating this site, for allowing different points of view on this very controversial issue. Ford those of us who have studied at Jesuit Universities, as either undergraduates or at professional schools; we appreciate a civil, honest – and sometimes frank -examination of important issues.

    American Catholics do not live in a theocracy, this is a pluralistic society with foundations in compromise. I my opinion there are more important questions (for the church) than the health care act.

    Cardinal Dolan, to have a real impact on American Society (and your Diocese) an examination of why 85% of catholic women use birth control, why 1 out of 3 abortions in the U.S. are performed on catholic women; and why a growing number of Hispanics are turning to Evangelical Christianity for a more “personal” association with Christ.

    Argue with the President, work to remove Democrats from office, if you choose; those are true American Rights at work. However, treating the symptoms of a disease does not cure the disease. The foundation of the church is weak, the numbers show it, the attitudes of those who are nominally Catholic demonstrate it.

    I pray for you and our beloved Church, it needs to address the hard issues. God created us as thinking, loving compassionate human beings; time for us to act in that capacity towards those who agree or disagree with us.

    I wish you the Peace of Christ+

  17. Patrick says:

    Cardinal Dolan: Thank you for your leadership and for defending the Church. The administration and many in secular society seem to think that we can simply dispense with the fundamental tennants of the Faith at their request, not understanding that we didn’t make up the Law; it was handed to us by God and we can’t change it.

    Keep up the good fight; we’re praying for you!

  18. Carole H says:

    Cardinal Dolan, please continue to speak out and defend the Catholic Church and the religious freedom of all beliefs. I am very worried that if the President succeeds with this initiative, there will be other, less favorable acts in the future. I will continue to pray for you and all the clergy to have the strength to carry on this mission to fight this mandate.

  19. Michelle says:

    Cardinal Dolan,
    God bless you and your heroic work in this matter, you trully are a gift to the Church in America.

    My concern and question is while I stand behind, support and encourage taking a stand against this attack of Religious liberty I wonder why the bishops, and our pastors aren’t addressing a major part of the problem. Why are we not standing up against the folks in the pews, in the public light and even those behind the pulpit that take no issue with contraception, sterlization, abortion? The Administration knows that there are plenty of people who would call themselves ‘Catholic’ and yet will then say ‘I don’t think I need to follow those tenants or morals to be a good Catholic’ and because of that they make the plea for you and the Bishops to side with the ‘catholics’ that agree with the mandate. I think it is a real problem that there are SO many that do in fact agree with the mandate. I think it is a real problem that we as a Church have failed to teach the Truth, that many a pastor has never brought up topic of morality on the pulpit and has even washed over a concern if brought to him regarding a ‘difficult’ topic. Why are we not fighting this travesty with the same vigor that we are standing up to the Administration?

    As a wife and mother in her 30’s I have come into many circumstances where praciticing catholic moms will state that they are indeed on birth control because they are done having children, I am then left to teach but yet they have never heard or been given any pastoral advice on the subject, it puts both in awkward positions. This is the time, the homilies on religious liberty are great, what about teaching morality despite the risk of making parishioners upset? This is the time.

    You, the Bishops of the US are in my families prayers, my you be encouraged and convicted to ask all pastors and priests to truly be pastoral leading their flock to truth!

    Mary keep you close and God bless you!

  20. CatholicMom says:

    @ Truth Unites… and Divides

    Just as Jesus said…He has come to divide! Yes, even families will be divided because some will heed Jesus’ message while others will not. Jesus founded His Church. Those who ‘hear’ the Word of God and do not adhere to it but rather have the opinion that they know better and follow their own conscience…will follow their consciences right into the fire. Those who have ill formed consciences are the ones who take themselves off the Path and release themselves from Jesus’ yoke…to do as they will rather than do the Father’s will.

    Jesus’ yoke is one of beauty, is easy, and sets us free! See… [ Matthew 11:30]

  21. Toby Bedford says:

    Cardinal Dolan,

    It is time to put the matter of the HHS Mandate to the Mother of God. Hold firm, do not yield and call for all the Bishops and their Dioceses to begin prayers of the Rosary that the mandate does not come to pass. Remember the Rosary can solve all problems no matter how intractable. Trust in the Mother of God and not in making dealings with unconscionable people.

  22. Ted Lang says:

    Cardinal Dolan,
    In my 74 years as a catholic I don’t remember the Church or our country ever facing a greater threat to religious freedom. For, what is clearly at stake here is both the weakening of a basic tenet or our liberty, the right to express and act on one’s religious beliefs, and also an effort to silence the voice and activity and influence of the Church in the United States. Please understand that you, your fellow bishops, and, in fact, all persons of all faiths, must oppose this effort by the administration with every ounce of our strength. It is imperative. No less than the future of our constitutional protection and our voice as Christians is at stake.
    I commend you for speaking out as you have done. Please continue to lead at this crucial moment. Help us to understand what we can do and what we must do to overcome this serious threat to freedom of religion.
    God bless you in your efforts. Our prayers are with you.

  23. TOM PHINNEY says:

    Right/Write on Your Emininence!
    To my Friday-Sunday fellow Catholics, unlike your Cafeteria Style Insurance Plans, The Catholic Religion is an all or none plan. Either accept it as a whole or abandon it completely. Try to remember what Anton warned us about 2 millenium ago: “No one comes to the Father except through Me”
    Now let us ponder this question. Should I take the advice of a Leader with 36 years experience with a 2000 year old Organization or take the advice of a Leader with 4 years experience with a 236 year old Organization.
    That said, His Eminence should not have had to weigh in on this subject but this controversy really demanded response. President Obama really crossed the line when he tried to dictate Government Policy to a Religious organization – Maybe he hasnt read the Constitution or if he has, maybe he is ignoring one of it’s major tenets.
    Can you imagine the uproar from the Left, Right AND the Middle if his Eminence chose to negatively comment on the Canadian Pipeline or the current price of a gallon of gas.
    Next time you are on a plane, imagine this: Who’s hand would you want to hold when the plane goes through extreme weather, Dolan on your left or Obama on your right?

  24. Judith Barrett says:

    Cardinal Dolan,
    I am a self-employed woman and purchase my own insurance. We were careful to choose a company that does not pay for abortion, sterilization or artificail birth control. My insurance company was wonderful, paying all the astronomical costs of my breast cancer treatment. Now I will drop this wonderful company because they have raised my premiums because they are forced to pay for something I disagree with. The church gives us a choice of whether we want to dissent or not. The HHS does NOT give us a choice. Either buy the insurance or pay fines and lose property. Where is the freedom of choice on this issue?

  25. Paul says:

    Cardinal Dolan,

    There are more among you who want truth, justice and the American way (The Constitution for the United States of America), then the media allows the people to see. We are behind you sir, because it is the correct side of the issue.

    God Bless America!

  26. Jack Amadan says:

    God love you Cardinal Dolan but it looks like the episcopacy wants to blow another opportunity to educate the Faithful and the World.


    There is no end with this approach.

  27. John J. Sullivan says:

    Cardinal Dolan – I now live at the other end of this great country, but was educated within the territory of your Archdicocese and lived there many years. My son lives now in Spanish Harlem, just starting out his adult life in these perilous times. One of my high school teachers went on to become Editor of America magazine, so I know of what you speak in that regard. I too find its call to appeasement and minimization of the seriousness of these regulations regrettable and misguided.

    I want to thank you for courageously speaking out against this assault upon the unalienable God-given right to freedom of conscience of all Americans at a time when another right – the right of all of us to freedom of speech similarly acknowledged by the First Amendment – hangs by a thread. We face a looming darkness in this world. Many in Europe understand it because they have lived with it and know their history. Many of them fear we Americans are at even greater risk of falling under its spell because we have not. Where will we go if freedom is extinguished in America? Where will we find refuge?

    God endowed us with certain rights for a purpose. Rights are not ends in and of themselves. They are the sine qua non of each of us being able to choose to follow the call of God, or not, free of being “nudged” or more forcefully coerced by the state. That is why your stand is so important to us and, IMHO, in the eyes of God. So many have forgotten that the rights we so proudly declare ownership of as Americans come only from God, and never from the largesse of a mortal political class. The HHS mandate is a fine example of how so-called “rights,” manufactured out of thin air by mere mortal rulers, inevitably have the effect, whether intended or not, of impinging on the legitimate rights we are endowed with by God.

    To a large extent the source of this animosity toward the American Catholic Church and its charitable service affiliates has to do with it standing in the way of an agenda of so-called “social and economic justice” or collective salvation that illegitimately arrogates to Caesar the authority to use our individual call to charitable acts as a pretext for collectivizing the citizenry as they are led down the “Road to Serfdom.” Did Jesus not say “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s?” Is it Caesar’s to confiscate from us our responsibility to tithe as a pretext for confiscating all wealth and redistributing it so that everyone’s “needs” are met to the extent determined appropriate by the ruling class? This call to defend religious freedom must also be a call to reclaim our responsibility as Christians from the modern bureaucratic state.

    This nation is one based upon a revolutionary ideology informed by the Judaeo-Christian faith tradition that has enabled Catholics to pursue their paths toward God and their Church to flourish. It was a revolution accomplished before the first shot was fired – largely the product of the work of ministers of the faith – admittedly mostly Protestant – who formed what the King of England scorned as the “Black Robe Regiment.” Our nation was born of that first great awakening. It renewed the pledge of the preamble to the Declaration during the second great awakening that produced the antebellum movement to abolish first the African slave trade and then slavery itself. For over 100 years our nation has drifted from its faith and founding ideology, while purveyors of various European collectivist ideologies have worked “progresively,” incrementally, imperceptably to cause generations to forget who they are and to prepare them for surrendering what cannot be surrendered – God’s unalienable rights. I believe we are at the beginning of a third great awakening that offers the opportunity to renew our faith in God and bring about the “fundamental restoration” of our constitutionally limited republic rather than its “fundamental transformation” into just one more oppressive, decadent collectivist society. I consider you a member of this generation’s “Black Robe Regiment” and hope you consider that a compliment.

    God bless you.

  28. John J. Sullivan says:

    If individuals were able to puchase affordable health care coverage and choose coverage that was consistent with their individual conscience, the government would not be impinging on anyone’s freedom of conscience. The linkage bettween employment and insurance coverage is an historical correlate to the 95% top marginal income tax rates of the WWII and immediate postwar era.

    Rather than pursue true reform that would empower individuals, the administration has chosen a massive aggrandizement of federal power over employer-provided coverage intended in the longer run to bankrupt private insurance coverage to pave the way for single-payer government monopolized health care that will treat us as serfs or even breedstock over whom decisions are made on the basis of something akin to Dr. Zeke Emanuel’s “whole lives” rationing system.

    True reform would empower individuals and allow market forces to impose discipline on prices.

  29. Meg Lark says:

    Your Eminence: Don’t forget to get backing from clerics of the Eastern Orthodox Church and Orthodox Jewish faiths, especially the Hasidim – none of these people believe in artificial birth control, either. The Left insists on framing this as an exclusively Catholic issue, and then they ridicule the “out-of-touch” Catholics with off-the-wall statements like “98% of Catholic women use birth control” – first of all, I’m pretty sure that WAY more than 2% of Catholic women are beyond the age of child-bearing, so why would they need birth control?! And second, so Catholic women use birth control – what’s the issue? Is there a statistic on how many of those women use *natural* birth control, which the Catholic Church has *never* banned?! You need to take the battle to these ignorami and call them on their prejudices, for prejudice it mose certainly is. Meanwhile, prepare for the next battle: http://rt.com/news/uk-bans-wearing-cross-317/

  30. Your Eminence Cardinal Dolan:
    I wish to point out that our religious liberties are at stake,
    morr so than ever begore. Catholics in this country need to
    be united in the fact that we have to offer our country to God
    through our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus.We have an opportunity
    to elect for President a man who truely values the true Catholic traditions
    of justice, leadership, and integrity. We the Church need to be in support
    of Rick Santorum. He is the only choice.

  31. Lamont Applegate says:

    Cardinal Dolan,
    Thank you for boldly representing our Church’s position relating to this most agriegious attack on our religious freedoms. I am and will continue to pray for you, our bishops, priests, brothers, sisters and lay leaders. May Our Lord continue to protect, guide and bless you always.

  32. Kevin Kavanagh says:

    The Constitutional Question.

    As much as the Obama Administration may want to make some sort of accommodation” here, for political purposes, as the Executive Branch of our Federal Government the Admin probably shouldn’t, just as the Legislative and Judicial Branches of the Federal Government probably shouldn’t as well.

    After all, this is indeed a Constitutional Question.

    Making an “accommodation” would, in itself, be a violation of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution, which states in part:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”

    So then, to make an“accommodation” the Admin (as the Executive Branch; or the Legislative or the Judicial Branches) would be violating both the spirit and the original intent of the “no law” portion of the amendment, in that to make “an accommodation” would in effect be making “a law” “respecting” a “religion”, which while not precisely acting in an effort at “establishment of religion” is tantamount to doing so.

    The “prohibiting the free exercise thereof” phrase of the 1st Amendment is not a consideration here either.

    The Framers of the US Constitution in no way meant by that phrase that a religion, in this case the Catholic religion, could carve out for itself a niche which sets itself apart from all other entities operating here in the US under the protections guaranteed by the US Constitution. A fundamental precept of our government in the US is that we are all equal under the law.

    Rather, the Framers, by that phrase meant that the Federal Government could make “no law” “prohibiting the free exercise” of the practices of a religion.

    In the specific case of the Catholic religion here that means that the Federal Government is prohibited by the 1st Amendment from making a law that would prohibit the Catholic Mass, or Baptism, or Confirmation, etc., what the Catholic Church refers to as the “rites” of its religion.

    In no way did the Framers intend that phrase to go beyond that and allow any religious entity to not comply with the laws of the US, as in this case, to not provide complete health insurance for its employees of its various organizations on the grounds that to do so would be a matter of a violation of “religious conscience”.

    Nowhere in the phrasing of the portion of the 1st Amendment which addresses religious freedom, quoted above, do the Framers include wording addressing, or implying, “religious conscience”. To somehow read into that portion of the amendment anything more than it explicitly states would be a violation of our “strict interpretation” concept regarding the US Constitution.

    As one of the Framers may have said, “Beware the tyranny of the Pulpit.”

    And for all of us who live under the protections of the Constitution we are “In for a penny, in for a Pound.”

  33. Linda Wulf says:

    Let us ask St. Joseph, the patron of the Universal Church and the patron of Families to pray for us and with us, especially on his feast day, March 19th.

  34. MF says:

    Please do not compromise. At this point the Church has the duty to take this issue to court to protect the Bill of Rights. Anything short of freedom of religion is not acceptable. We are the stewards of this beautiful document that was written by men but, when one reads it, lets face it that it was inspired by religion and our desire to be more Christ like. It would be like allowing some government to change Bible chapters just to make it convenient to sin. We know this has been attempted in the past.

  35. Anne says:

    Below is a list of Catholic Bishops either planning on attending or sending greetings to the “Rally for Religious Freedom”,being held throughout the United States at noon Friday
    March 23rd. There are 194 Bishops in the United States, not including Puerto Rico or other territories, and only 15 are planning on doing anything. Our religious freedom is being threatened.
    On Saturday March 24, 2012, in Washington DC thousand of Atheists will participate in a “Reason Rally”. Wake up church leaders. STOP drinking “social justice” tea and get real and get back to basics. GOD is watching and taking notes. We need leaders willing to stand for Religious Freedom no matter who’s religion it may be.
    Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, S.T.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Birmingham
    Most Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, Bishop of the Diocese of Oakland
    Most Rev. Cirilo Flores, Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego
    Most Rev. Thomas Doran, Bishop of the Diocese of Rockford
    Most Rev. Kenneth Steiner, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Portland
    Most Rev. John Quinn, Bishop of the Diocese of Winona
    Most Rev. John Kudrick, Bishop of the Eparchy of Parma
    Most Rev. David Choby, Bishop of the Diocese of Nashville
    Most Rev. John Yanta, Bishop Emeritus of Amarillo Diocese
    Most Rev. Robert Morlino, Bishop of the Diocese of Madison
    Most Rev. Leonard Blair, Bishop of the Diocese of Toledo
    Most Rev. Joseph Latino, Bishop of the Diocese of Jackson
    Most Rev. Peter Jugis, Bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte
    Most Rev. Luis Zarama, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta
    Most Rev. Michael Byrnes, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Detroit
    Most Rev. Mitchell Rozanski, Auxiliary Bishop
    Ok where are the rest of you holy men, not attending the Atheist Rally in Washington, DC, I hope.