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.

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235 Responses to “I Owe You an Update”

  1. patrick nagle says:

    I know this won’t appear, since it doesn’t fawn on nor agree with Dolan, BUT: Your pompous assumption that you speak for all lay Catholics (since the Holy Spirit doesn’t ever speak through them unless they agree with you, according to you) pinpoints the problem: you claim that the Church means the bishops, not the 98% of us who practice birth control. With zilch personal experience with human sexuality, except for a few guiltridden hetero- and homosexual dalliances by some, the bishops presume to tell normally sexual laity what they should think and do. Most of the world recognizes this for what it is: bizarre and hypocritical preoccupation with other people’s genitals by aging “celibates”. OK, if you’re going to use your platform to push the bishops’ political agenda, how about giving up the church’s tax exemptions? The rightwing bishops of today, led by the Dolans, were appointed by a rightwing Pope, who was advised by the cardinal who those appointees promptly elected Pope when the time came.

  2. John V. Thomas says:

    Cardinal Dolan, Thank you for your defense of the Church in America. For too long, our Bishops have remained silent while the political class has enacted laws that assault the beliefs of people of faith and the judicial class has issued rulings that can never be accepted. Some of the individuals responsible call themselves “Catholics” and the Church has taken no action to excommunicate them. The Democratic Party includes in its official Platform the very issues that the Church now recognizes as an outrage and the Church was silent then and now as to the propriety of our priests and nuns continuing to remain as members of that political party. Thus, when the Church does make a stand, many Catholics are confused. The time has come to draw a line in the sand. The Democratic Party is officially the party of abortion and contraception. It is wrong to belong to that party until it removes those articles from its platform. Catholics who publically challenge the teachings of the Church and create scandal must be publically dealt with. To be consistent, the Church needs to be brave and fight the direction the country is headed.

  3. Robert John Bennett says:

    Your Eminence, you and the entire US Conference of Catholic Bishops are of course doing exactly the right thing in opposing the Obama administration’s “compromise.”

    I was once an enthusiastic Obama supporter, but this issue has created something of a tipping point for me and probably for many other Catholics as well. We will never be able to maintain the same level of support for Obama, and some of us, I am sure, will be unable to maintain any support for him at all.

    What I find particularly insulting in the White House approach, is the idea that the President’s staff would have the effrontery to lecture Catholic bishops on the need for listening to more “liberal” Catholics in matters of morals.

  4. Judy says:

    Whenever anyone says “it’s not about the money”, it’s about the money. Saying this isn’t about women’s healthcare is the samething. This is all about women’s healthcare. I’m a woman, a catholic, an employer, and a sister of a priest. If the catholic church doesn’t have to pay for birth control, then employers everywhere will find some problem with some feature of the new healthcare bill that they have a moral opposition to. The catholic church should be on the side of universal health care.

  5. Katherine says:

    God bless you for all you do! We are with you. Lead on.

  6. George Fredericks says:

    I read in the newspaper that war is imminent with Iran. Where does the Church policy stand and which politician should I vote for Cardinal?
    My sister, a single working mother, was paying $800 a month to her employer for her health plan. Now she pays $200 a month and has broader coverage. Where does the Church policy stand and which politician should I vote for Cardinal?
    Several reputable local newspapers have suggested my elected official is corrupt. Where does the Church policy stand and which politician should I vote for Cardinal?
    Worldwide economic problems have led to many people’s pensions being curtailed. Where does the Church policy stand and which politician should I vote for Cardinal?
    I have a difference on a matter of conscience with my pastor. Where does the Church policy stand and which politician should I vote for Cardinal?
    My mother is publicly called a slut and ridiculed for speaking her mind. Where does the Church policy stand and which politician should I vote for Cardinal?

  7. Vincent Gaglione says:

    My understanding of a blog is that it is a venue for dialogue, commentary, opinion, etc. I find little dialogue here. Yet I do think that honest dialogue is important on issues such as the health care law mandates. So, I offer some of my RANDOM thoughts and opinions. If there is anyone who wishes to offer some cogent rebuttal or concurrence, I welcome it.

    When the issue of the health care law mandates was framed by the Bishops specifically as an imposition on religious and religiously-affiliated institutions, especially those that are self-insured, I wrote a letter to the President protesting the policy and decrying his political ineptness. The administration realized what I didn’t. The political savvy of the American Bishops is even less than that of the President’s administration. The Bishops political ineptness allowed the debate to be turned on its head and now they are struggling to recover.

    While the Cardinal decries what he describes as the minimal accommodations allowed by the administration, it is my understating that in a number of states similar accommodations had been made and were accepted by Catholic-affiliated institutions for years. I specifically recall reading a New York Times article recently about the Bishops of Connecticut opposing a health care mandate law which they argued would violate conscience. As described in the article, and as best as I recall, the law was passed and the Church in Connecticut accommodated to it. If we have accommodated in the past, why not now? Of course, none of this applies to self-insured groups.

    The issue became framed by the media as a “reproductive and health” issue. Did no one at NCCB do research into all the aspects of the issues at hand? Were no medical experts called in to provide information and discussion? I don’t think so! Did the Bishops intend to refuse to provide drugs that serve more than one purpose – medical vs. reproductive? I certainly hope not.

    The only “freedom of religion” issue that I see is the health care law mandate to comply by self-insured religious and religious-affiliated institutions. The drum beat on that issue needs to be loud and clear and settled sooner than later. Keep the message simple and direct. Stop confounding it with sloppy rhetoric and tangential ideas.

    The Bishops were further described in the press as asserting the freedom of individuals to ignore the health care mandates – both personally and for their own businesses. In the former case, there is a simple solution – just don’t purchase such benefits. In the latter, every ideologue (opposed to alleged socialist health care policies), racist (opposed to a black President), and greedy employer (opposed to labor justice) would have enjoyed refusing to purchase health care benefits for employees, citing religious scruples! Those citizens who argue for individual conscience in this nation are free to assert it for themselves and will accrue, as has always been true, the penalties either civil or criminal. When did it become the role of the Catholic Church in the United States to pretend to be the defender of individual conscience vis-à-vis the nation’s laws? Our own Catholic history in Europe and South America undermines that argument. That’s a position that I haven’t ever heard mentioned as policy before!

    The Blunt amendment – to a transportation bill (no less) – which was a blunt (forgive the pun) and blatant attempt to score political points with the Catholic and evangelical electorate during a Presidential electoral period – was rife with so many holes in it that it would have totally emasculated the health care law, not just for those opposed to “reproductive” benefits but for practically any other reason that could be devised, again citing religious scruples! The Bishops, as I read it on the NCCB website, supported the amendment. I was aghast that they would subscribe to something that was so far removed from what I had thought was their original intent. I believe that the credibility of the Bishops was seriously undermined in public opinion.

    A young woman attending a Catholic institution argued for prescription drugs for medical, rather than reproductive purposes. Rush Limbaugh used obscene and vitriolic ad hominem attacks upon the woman to discredit her testimony and to support opposition to the health care mandates. Ordinary non-Catholic citizens, and I do talk to some of them, saw Limbaugh as becoming a spokesperson for the Catholic position, almost a “defender of the faith.” That the Bishops did not repudiate Limbaugh and his comments also helped turn their unfocused “freedom of religion” argument into an issue of “health rights for women” and a “war against women.”

    The issue of self-insured religious and religiously-affiliated institutions remains completely unresolved. That should be the focus of the battle, the only issue. To a cynic like myself, the Bishops have allowed themselves to become pawns of a Republican and right-wing political apparatus in the Presidential election. From my point of view, politically savvy and sophisticated the Bishops are not!

  8. barbara says:

    Cardinal Dolan, you are in my daily prayers. Thank you for your courage and your leadership.

    My family is grown so no one else has to rely on me anymore. I am ready to die for Jesus if necessary, and this cause may be the vehicle.

    I can’t help but wonder whether, if we had a strong leader like you back in the early 1970s whether there would ever have been “legal” abortion.

    God bless you, Cardinal Dolan.

  9. Christine Zainer MD says:


    This 2 minute video is about the CON on conscience rights – Mr. Obama’s Obamacare/HHS mandate for ALL OF US to pay for abortion causing drugs. Please watch!

    Contraception is also a CON. Contraception is not about health or freedom whether working solely to prevent union of sperm and egg or possibly interfering with the life of tiny embryos. Fertility and life are goods that do not have to be suppressed or destroyed to live happily and healthily.

  10. Michael and Robin Blaszak says:

    PRAISE GOD!!! A FAITHFUL SHEPHERD!!!! We are right with you Cardinal Dolan. Our family and dare we say, millions of others have been waiting for our Bishops to take charge and defend our Holy Mother Church and her true teachings of our Savior Jesus Christ. We are the CHURCH MILITANT and we need HOLY and COURAGEOUS GENERALS! To long we faithful catholics have been on the front lines, while our generals have let the enemy sabotage us from within. THANK GOD and THANK YOU for standing up for His Son, His Church and His Sheep. You are in our daily prayers and we will SEE YOU IN THE ARENA if that is what our Lord calls us to. May God bless you and all our FAITHFUL bishops, priests and religious! VIVA CHRISTO REY!!!

  11. John Doherty says:

    Many Americans really don’t know what true freedom is. They think it means being allowed to do as they please without hindrance as long as Caesar’s laws aren’t broken. This way of thinking has brought our society down to the lowest common denominator and is wrong. True freedom is when a person is allowed to do what is morally right and just without fear of some despot’s reprisal. How good it is to see someone who has the courage to stand up to the dictator wannabe and defend the Church and people of America. God bless Cardinal Dolan.

  12. Irene says:

    “But I hope you’ll listen to your pastors who are still very concerned.”

    Absolutely, I’ll listen, and I’ll very carefully decide what my position will be on this issue before I reach out to my electeds.

    My one concern about this editorial is that it comes off seeming to say that our bishops should be the only Catholic voice in the public square, that the rest of us should just support their postiion (I may have misread this; if that was not the intent of the editorial, my apologies). I am a Catholic, but I do sometimes- for those very same religious liberty principles- support legislation that doesn’t reflect our Church’s teachings. For example, I strongly supported same sex marriage in NYC and I also strongly support widespread access to contraceptives (though I agree that Churches should not be forced to pay for it)

    So, while I take the USCCB’s position on issues very seriously, it is also important to me that our legislators not mistakenly think that the bishops speak for all Catholic voters on all issues (or even for most Catholic voters on some issues).

    I enthusiastically support the USCCB becoming a strong advocate on important issues, but please don’t criticize other Catholics for sharing the public space as well, even if they don’t happen to agree with you.

  13. Dan Engel says:

    Your Eminence, first I want to echo everyone who thanks you for your strong work in opposing the Obama Administration’s attacks on religious liberty. However, I also want to ask you, in response to these words: “…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…” to PLEASE never settle for the “at least” option.

    PLEASE don’t relinquish any sense of urgency or gravity to this fight just because the exemptions have been broadened, unless the exemptions are as broad as those embodied in the recently defeated so-called “Blunt amendment.”

    Thank you for your time.

  14. John Webber says:

    Cardinal Dolan,

    I am so glad you are now Cardinal and a strong voice for Catholicism in this country. I have one question: Why is Nancy Pelosi and others like her NOT excommunicated? Yesterday, she introduced the woman from Georgetown who wants Americans to pay for her contraception, which motivated Rush Limbaugh to say some words he had to apologize for. Obviously, Nancy is pro-choice and pro-contraception….and pro-mortal sin. Don’t these “Catholic” politicians bring scandal? What more is needed?

    I was so inspired by your stance against Obama’s health care mandate on contraception. The Church is strong when its voice is unified, but it is incomplete when politicians like Pelosi and Sebelius continue unrepentantly preaching mortal sin and yet are not excommunicated.

  15. gregg dourgarian says:

    very glad i found this blog and thanks to the Archbishop and all you who commented here. You give me hope…from Minnesota with love

  16. I am SOLIDLY behind you, Your Eminence!

  17. Chris says:

    Cardinal Dolan, yourself and the rest of the leaders of the Catholic Church have lost your flock. You have decided to get into bed with the fringe elements of evangelical Christians and turned a labor issue into constitutional matter, which it never was.

    You do not have the support of your flock, your flock is turning their collective backs on the old men in funny hats. It is time for you to be silent and listen to the layity. The issue is should Catholic dogma be forced upon those who don’t agree. No body is forcing the Church to do anything other than allowing its non-religious employees exercise their God given free-will and make their own choices.

    The Churhc is dying because it is deaf to the opinions of its members, you and the rest of the leadership are the problem. Your attitudes are the reason I am a lapsed Catholic.

  18. Maria says:

    Amen. Thank you for keeping the focus on the true issue at hand: religious freedom. Your leadership is wonderful in this time.

    For any that say Cardinal Dolan doesn’t speak for you, how can you consider yourself Catholic? Perhaps you were baptized and received other sacraments, maybe you even attend church… but if your view of this issue differs from the church, you are not in good standing. Please re-examine your faith and what it means to be Catholic. It is not a cafeteria, people!

  19. Larry says:

    “We’d prefer to concentrate on the noble tasks of healing the sick, teaching our youth, and helping the poor…” That’s funny. I thought the Church’s mission was saving souls from hell. But that sentence doesn’t even include that.

  20. Laura Moynahan says:

    We need to keep in mind that first and foremost this is not about birth control or women’s right. This is about the freedom of the church, or any church, to practice their faith as they see fit. If we have internal disagreements that is for us to work out among ourselves not for the government to mandate. Please do not make the mistake of thinking that this will be the end of it either. This is the easiest place to start breaking freedom of religion, with an issue that most people do not feel strongly about or do not disagree with. By the time they get to the issues you do care about it will be too late.

  21. Mike Gannon says:

    United, Under God, We Stand, Until Liberty And Justice Be For All

  22. john jezik says:

    God Bless the Cardinal. He is a voice (not the only one) in the wilderness.
    Those who have an argument with the Church should take the problem up with God.
    Church speaks for Him.
    And Chris—the Church will never die–Christ said He will always be with the Church.
    If you are a lapsed Catholic I’d suggest you reconsider.
    There’s still hope for you

  23. Chris says:

    “For any that say Cardinal Dolan doesn’t speak for you, how can you consider yourself Catholic?”

    The Cardinal Dolan, the Pope and the Bishops are men, nothing more nothing less. They are no wiser than the average man. I as a Catholic say the Cardinal and the other old men in charge do not speal for me, God gave all us us a mind to reason with. Do not surrender your thoughts and reason to a bunch of old men in funny hats, think for yourself.

    @ Laura Moynahan
    This is a health issue, a labor issue and a political issue, its not religious freedom issue. These were the rules under President Bush’s administration, the laws of several states, and several Catholic organizations agree with the comprimise. The Bishops only spoke out when they felt they could gain political points. The Cardinal and the Bishops are being dishonest when they speak of their motives for acting now and not a decade earlier.

  24. Brian A Cook says:

    Your eminence, would you kindly give honest and direct responses to the allegations of some of the commenters? Vincent Gaglione, George Fredericks, Laurence White, Dennis M. Welch, and others bring up very serious allegations.

  25. Richard Peck says:

    It has been disappointing to read comments saying “you and the rest of the leaders of the Catholic Church have lost your flock,” or objecting to the idea that “our Bishops should be the only voice in the public square.”

    One hopes the same commenters will simply read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Self-identified Catholics (cultural, casual, cafeteria?) who say such things obviously have never been asked to repeat the statement affirmed by every convert who will enter the Church this Easter Vigil: “‘I believe *ALL *that the Catholic Church teaches and proclaims is revealed by God” [emphasis on “all” is mine].

    The Church is *NOT* dying, and we are seeing a wonderful revitalization of orthodoxy, recovering from a season of silliness, through our faithful Bishops — as well as through young people, who have found the TRUTH, goodness, and beauty of Christ, in the Church (1 Tim 3:15). The 60s generation who misunderstood Vatican II as permitting a “Davy Crockett-style theological individualism” is being replaced by devout, believing young people.

    God bless your efforts and you are daily in my prayers.

  26. Shelly Romero says:

    Cardinal Dolan, so many of us stand in unity with the bishops. We appreciate your leadership and guidance. God bless you.

    To Chris on March 5 at 10:22 you said, “The Church is dying because it is deaf to the opinions of its members, you and the rest of the leadership are the problem. Your attitudes are the reason I am a lapsed Catholic.”

    First of all do not ever blame the reason for being a lapsed Catholic on anyone else but yourself!

    While the Church is not perfect, it certainly is alive and NOT dying. Also, the members of The Church can have opinions, but those opinions have never been what led The Church. What leads The Church is a lot more powerful than the opinions of her members. Remember, an opinion is just a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. Wow– if The Church listened to opinions every time she turned around, then in my opinion their would be death as you spoke about on March 5th in your opinion. You see an opinion is just an opinion.

    Thank the Lord The Church is based on something much greater and holier, than just an opinion.

  27. Roland Doucet says:

    The fact that Cardinal Dolan says that the Church can not pay for the Health Coverage not permitted because because these things are not permitted in our tenents is saying the right thing. Anyone going to work for a Catholic organization who does not understand that should look for a job somewhere else or buy this coverage on their own.For to have the Chruch pay for these things is like having the church condone them. They pass no judgement.Anyone who can not understand that or make this out to be something it is not is not thinking.
    My agrument with the Cardinal is that Catholics in the House and Senate can not promotes abortions,same sex marriage and many other things that are contrary to our tenets with out being told that AS CATHOLICS they can not do this.As Americans these people are free to vote and promote as they wish but they should be told publically,that they can not do this and remain Cathoilic.
    People like Pelosi,Biden and many of the Kennedys have voted for and promoted many things that are against the Catholic Tenets,yet the Church has not warned them publically that they can not do this and remain Catholic.The reason I feel is that these people are powerful and the Cardinal is afraid of them.
    Until the Cardinal and the Bishops become CATHOLIC and get the backbone to say-NO MORE_this will continue.

  28. Chris says:

    @Roland Doucet

    Why single out the Democratic Catholics (I know the truth is that this is a political issue being used by Republican/Conservative Catholics). Mnay of the Catholics on the other side were in favor of the Iraq war and capital punishment, two issues the prior and current pope have spoken out against. Additionally, Pope John Paul II spoke out agianst the culture of greed in capitalism and the support for expanded welfare programs for the poor and sick, something Peter King and other Catholic republicans oppose. Where is Dolan’s outrage at Peter King and the call to have him removed from the Church. The hypocrisy of the Cardinal, the Bishops and the Conservative Catholics is mind numbing.

  29. Mark Shelton says:

    Cardinal Dolan, I am a Catholic and must say you and the church deserve what you have sown. The church has openly supported pro-abortion candidates and pro-gay marriage candidates. You call illegal immigrants “migrants” instead of criminals and encourage disrespect for our borders instead of the rule of law. And now you are expressing shock that the very people, who you and the church helped elect, the very people who made no secret as to their beliefs, are actually doing what they said they would do, turn America into a socialist paradise, and in that state controlled paradise, the church has no rights.

    The next thing is going to be two guys entering the church and demanding to be married. And if you refuse, be prepared for the lawsuit filed by Sandra Fluke, after all, you trained her and defended her, so you deserve her.

  30. Chris says:

    @Shelley Romero,

    “What leads The Church is a lot more powerful than the opinions of her members.”

    What leads the Church is the opinion of a few old men, nothing greater than that, to believe otherwise is to fool yourself. The fact that nothing divine leads the Church is evident from the Church’s world wide mishandling of the rape scandals. The leadership of the Church, the high ranking Bishops and Cardinals sought to sweep the issue under the rug and were aghast at the thought that layity would dare question their actions.

    The Churhc is dying, attendance by the younger generations is decreasing, what is left is a collections of old conservatives afraid of the modern world. the Church is making itself irrelavent.

    @Richard Peck
    The Church has wrongly sought to enter politics instead of remaining neutral. I went to Catholic School, I recieved my sacraments, was even an altar boy, all of that havn’t hide the glaring hypocrisy of the Church leadership, who seek to maintain power and influence instead of administering to their flock. The College of Bishops is parroting the fringe view of the evenagelical christians in a vain attempt to retain what few practicing catholics remain.

  31. Pearce Beskin says:

    Your Eminence;

    I wish you would speak out to our Connecticuit Bishops the errrors of there ways. The gentleman who espoused the artical in the New York Times is absolutely correct. about our bishops cavining in to our legiosture, here in Connecticuit. One State over from you who are fighting for our first amendment rights. The administration can point to our state and say to you”Hey the state of Connecticuit Bishops accept the day after pill for Rape and Incest why are you fighting us and they would have a ligitiment arguement on that issue so please Cardinal Dolan as the Pesidentent of the usccb talk to our bishops and have the cave in reversed in Connecticuit.

  32. Lori Perez says:

    The teachings of Christ given to His Church are NOT defined by flawed humans. Human behavior ought be defined by the teachings of the Church and the love Christ has for His Church. Christ died for the very sins of His Church and though there are those who fail to uphold what the Church ought to reflect (Christ), Christ still stands by her and leads her DESPITE herself. Shall I bash all white Americans because of slavery? Shall I hate all Germans because of Hitler? Shall I loathe all Muslims because of the small number of radical fundamentalists? We are to be conformed to the Image of Christ, not Christ be conformed to OUR mere creature image, and to say that human imperfections invalidate the redeeming work of Jesus Christ for His Church is pure foolishness. The Catholic Church’s members are human and make mistakes. Keep your eyes on Jesus through His Church, not FLAWED man. Jesus redeemed FLAWED humanity and THAT is what makes the Church beautiful, full of life and special. The Catholic Church has done way more to help humanity than hurt it. Anyone within the Church who as covered up sin will have to answer to God. Don’t make flawed humans your idol that you obsess over. Rather, look to Christ and the Church he has purchased which He continues to guide in His great mercy and compassion.

    One last thing–when the government attempts to violate our unalienable rights, we Catholics MUST take a stand. To say this is an act of “entering politics” as though wrong is missing the point. We should never remain neutral when our very religious freedoms are being violated. At the same time, we need to STOP voting for government officials who have a record of voting on matters that are contrary to what our faith teaches. If we don’t like what Obama is doing, then DO NOT vote for him or anyone whose ideology violates our teachings. When we have the power through voting to determine who our leaders will be, we need to make sure we do our part.

  33. Cardinal Dolan, thank you for your continued stand for the truth. With the availability of the new media and the free access to information to all those who seek it, I believe the truth on such matters will rise to the top. History will one day recognize this confrontation as it truly is–one of tragically misguided elitists in government furthering an agenda of oppression and enslavement of women against the Bride of Christ as she is always working to liberate women and defend their true freedom to live life to the fullest!

    Dr. Frank (Ob/Gyn physician)

  34. Margaret says:


    Whether you believe it or not, there is a vibrant and growing group of Catholics, many of whom are young. I am very sorry that you were obviously deeply hurt by someone in the church at some point, but I would like to respectfully point out that your bitterness is causing you to miss the point. The church isn’t about miscellaneous rules pulled out of thin air and changed on random whims to exert power over people, but about keeping the covenant in order to become more fully human and to grow in relationship with God. Try reading something like “Walking with God” by Tim Gray & Jeff Cavins, or “A Father Who Keeps His Promises” by Scott Hahn so you can see how the covenants have kept the same underlying first principals while growing ever more encompassing and raising the bar for behavior. It’s a process of growth, but it does fit together and has remained consistent throughout the centuries. And yes, sometimes there have been bad men in positions that they shouldn’t have occupied, but that doesn’t invalidate the institution of the church itself anymore than the discovery of double agents in government positions would invalidate a country’s existence.

    To preemptively bring it up, do please note that there is a distinction between doctrine, like belief in the Trinity, which cannot and has not changed, versus matters of discipline, like whether or not meat is allowed on Fridays, which can change to fit the needs of a population. Respect for life at all stages is unchangeable doctrine, not discipline.

    Also, to answer another point, from the reading I’ve done on this issue, the reason so many of the institutions are self-insured in the first place is so they don’t have to pay for the contraceptives under the state laws, so your claim that it is “just political” because they are okay with the state laws but not the federal law, which will require the insurance, self-insured or not, to provide them, is a red herring, albeit an unintentional one, I’m sure.

    May you find peace for your anger.

  35. JSusan says:

    Your Eminence,

    Thank you for sharing your voice by standing up for our faith, our beliefs, and our sacred theology. We stand together; we stand strong and well-grounded in the tenants of our religion, the only one founded by Jesus Christ.

    There is never a reason to bend, fold or compromise on the principles and laws established by God. Religious liberties have long been valued in our society. It is very troubling that this administration is trampling on our rights as citizens and true Catholics.

    I don’t know how some people have lost their way in promoting God’s values. Thank you for reaching out and enlightening the public with the truth regarding our love of God and His Commandments and our respect for the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    I think that you, our Bishops, and the priests on EWTN are very vocal. I appreciate the message being delivered in a clear, logical voice.

    I have written to my senators and congressman, but have not heard a word back from any of them. I have signed a petition at Church. Let us know what more we can do.

    I pray that peoples’ hearts will be touched by the Holy Spirit when they go to the voting booth.


  36. RBJ says:

    Please pray for Ms. Fluke and the suffering she is experiencing. I wish the cardinal would state so publicly, another moral lapse perhaps.

  37. CatholicMom says:

    Chris, surely you did not mean to criticize Jesus’ selection of Apostles, His first bishops, giving them the authority to forgive and retain sins. Priests, bishops, cardinals, and the Pope…are very special men. [John 20:22]. You cannot criticize Jesus’ selection of men to be His priests unless you wish to criticize the will of the Father which Jesus fulfilled perfectly.

    Matthew 10:1, 40 “he who receives you, receives Me, and he who rejects you, rejects Me and the One who sent Me.” These men were given Authority by Jesus in order to ‘go out to all nations and baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.’ Jesus was Sent by the Father, and now He is Sending men on His mission. [John 8:28] where did Jesus get the Authority to give to the Apostles? From the Father. If you reject the Authority of the Apostles and their successors you reject the Authority of God.

    [John 8:28] Jesus says He does nothing on His own Authority; likewise the Apostles and their successors do nothing on their own authority but by the Authority of God. Jesus promised to guide and guard them until the end of time by sending them the Paraclete. [Thus your statement…the Church is dying is false]. By the power of the Holy Spirit the Apostles and their successors share in Jesus Christ’s ministry and authority. Jesus would not send them out to all nations and then let His Church ‘die out’. The members’ opinions are not filled with the Authority given by God.

    Now you may not believe these Truths, Chris, and that is your choice and your conscience but if you call yourself a Christian, you must believe every Word of the Bible as being the Truth. If you do not believe in the Catholic interpretation of the Bible, your conscience is ill formed. You see, the Bible was given to us by the Catholic Church and no one has the right to interpret it in any other way. If you disagree, then how do you know you have the right books?

    Perhaps you were hurt by someone in the Church at some point in time, as Margaret suggests, but also there are other reasons people become bitter and twisted in their thinking, then leave the Church…they adopt non-Christian ideals because they think it will make them feel free. But they forget what Jesus said about ‘His yoke’… ‘My yoke is sweet and my burden light.’ Get off the Path and your burden becomes too heavy to handle and pride turns one’s heart sour.

    Jesus Christ wishes to draw everyone to Himself and will allow a person to wallow in their self-righteousness until they see the Light. Remember what happened to Paul/Saul on the road to Damascus?

  38. Mark Verschell says:

    Cardinal Dolan,

    With all due respect to you and your diocese, as well as Catholics both in the United States and worldwide, your statements regarding freedom of religion and your attacks on the coverage of oral contraception are just plain wrong.

    As to the arguments on freedom of religion: If this were simply a matter of forcing the Catholic Church (or any other religious institution) to conform to a government mandate, then I would agree with you. However, this applies (at least with respect to the Catholic Church) to Church related organizations that ALSO take federal funds! Should you choose to forego all external government funding, then I would support your right to not cover oral contraceptives.

    Furthermore, this is even less of an issue of religious freedom as it is a matter of individual freedom, and equality of genders. There is no requirement for the Church to pay for oral contraceptive coverage, the responsibility is for the insurer to cover it, and then it is up to the individual to choose whether this is appropriate for themselves (some thing that 98% of women DO choose to do). Should the Church decide to become self-insured, well that would be a whole new kettle of Friday fish.

    Finally, this is a matter of individual privacy. While it is true that oral contraceptives are most often used as a method of birth control, there are many other medically valid reasons that these medications are prescribed. Unless the Church believes that woman should be interrogated (a’la the Spanish Inquisition) as to why they need a particular prescription (something that is rightly and legally protected communication between a woman and her physician), then it is wrong for the Church to deny a woman access to a valid medical treatment. Let’s presume that a new drug is developed that becomes the best treatment for breast or ovarian cancer. Would the Church refuse the best care to its employees if it also turned out that this drug was an abortifactant?

    In the end, should the Church prevail, these medications will still be available to those with the financial means to pay for them out of pocket (for whatever legal and medical reason), it will be those women of lesser means who will be denied their right to full medical care.

    Basically, this can only mean that the Church is putting Dogma (not supported by the literal text of the Christian Bible, or by the reported words of Jesus) over the health and well-being of the poor members of the community.

    I hope the Church’s karma undergoes a radical self-reexamination.

  39. MaryG says:

    We must re-dedicate the country to the Immaculate Conception, our Patroness. And offer our individual lives fully and completely to the will of God which is never wrong.

    Then we must take up our one little pebble called a vote and use it to get rid of every Democrat from the President on down.

  40. mary hitz says:

    Your Eminence in 2009 I was in tears when you listened to Obama about health care. Could you not see he was a lying. He is the master of lies. The end Justifies the means. Mark Shelton is right. The catholic church has many hospitals, schools, nursing homes etc., and Obama wants control of all of them, thus of the people. I went to 16 years of catholic schools and I was taught to think. It seems like many catholic nuns and priest are liberals and don’t think anymore. Today I can’t see how any christian can vote Dem. In many catholic churches your letters are not sent out or spoken about. Many people want a church to stand up for freedom of religion and RIGHT AND WRONG. Read Scott and Kim Hahns book ROME SWEET HOME. He became a catholic because the Church stands for something. Some may leave because the do not like what they hear and other will come. Remember we have free will, something Obama would like to take away.

  41. Betty says:

    President Obama has gone the extra mile to accomodate the Catholic Church. Cardinal Dolan left for Rome saying he was optimistic and returned going to the TV and radio voicing something very different. In doing so, and not meaning to, the Cardinal has added fire to the vitriol that is so dividing our country. The previous writer suggests that we get rid of the President and every other Democrat. The Church has a right to protect their stance against birth control, however, it seems as though the Cardinal’s words are being conceived (as the above writer feels) as an endorcement for Mitt Romney. I am a 65 year old woman and need no contraception. However, I feel that President Obama cares more about things that Catholics advocate in general than the GOP. If the President is defeated, healthcare for the poor and middle class is out the window and will never come back in any of our lifetimes. There will not only be a chance for another war, there will be one. The Sunday following the President’s win in 2008, Catholics in Ohio were told by a Catholic Monsignor that they could not receive communion if they had voted for him. Reports of horrible sermons were all over the media. This before he even presented a bill or gave an executive order. Like him or not, President Obama has been badly treated by the Church. Cardinal Dolan is a good man and sadly, Fox News has made him their hero because they believe he can help defeat our President. Fox News prides itself as the Christian channel, however, many of them would not know a beatitude if it was written across their windshields. Many Catholics are hurting and confused now, seeing people like Newt Gingrich welcome to receive Communion and a grief-stricken young woman publicly turned away from communion because she was Gay which was revealed by the priest at her mom’s funeral. We can protect our faith and not risk taking healthcare away from our entire country because of an issue that can be solved by the President that cared enough to get it through even though it damaged him politically. I grew up in awe of my church leaders and would never think that I could disagree. My prayers are with Cardinal Dolan in the hope that he will resolve this matter with the President and not make it such media hype.

  42. Samuel Pry says:

    I wish to thank Mr. Patrick Nagle for his calm and reasoned engagement with Cardinal Dolan’s letter. I cannot imagine why he might have thought such a paradigm of lucid thinking would not have been published. Unlike some, it is clear he totally understands the Cardinal’s letter and the roles of the episcopacy and the laity in Catholic ecclesiology. I sincerely invoke upon him all the Grace he needs to continue his walk in faith.

  43. Joseph Marion says:

    Cardinal Dolan,

    As a fan of yours while you were here in Milwaukee, I am pleased to see someone take up the charge against this assualt on American’s freedoms. You are spot on, and have my wholehearted support. I am frustrated that there isn’t more initiative on the part of Catholic groups to address this in the one true way that we can – next November in the ballot box! I know it is not the church’s mission to get involved with politics, but when the church is assualted in this way, it is time to fight back – Good Christian Soldiers! I am for organizing Catholics to vote for their faith and defeat the forces of evil. I pray you can stay focused in this fight and that you will be victorious. Please keep the Conference of Catholic Bishops focused on this issue, and do not waiver. Too much is at stake. God bless!

  44. JSusan says:

    Dear Betty,
    As Catholics, we believe that God can and will forgive our sins. We need only go to Confession. When asked about his “sins,” Newt Gingrich has stated time and again that he has received Reconciliation through the Catholic Church. The Church welcomes all of us Catholics in this Sacrament. God speaks to us through the priest hearing the confession. We walk away with God’s forgiveness and special Graces. How loving and refreshing to know that God truly forgives our sins. God’s rules and Commandments apply to all, including Newt Gingrich. I applaud him for converting to Catholicism and receiving its gifts. He is telling us that he has turned his life around because of the Catholic Church. How can anyone find fault with that?

    Now, regarding homosexuals. Our Church teaches that God loves all of His children and we are to love one another. We look for the image of God in His people because He created all of us. However, our Church will not accept immoral behavior. Our morality is based on God’s Word to us. His will be done. Love the sinner, hate the sin.

  45. Tony Pelletier says:

    God bless you, Cardinal Dolan! I pray the good Lord for you all, here in Canada.

  46. Janet says:

    Cardinal Dolan know that I pray for you and all of the Bishops daily to continue the good fight. We can not as Americans and Roman Catholics allow our government to hinder our religious freedom. I certainly do not have all of the answers but God does and we should each listen to his words through the Gospels.
    We are in a battle and God has given us a great trial to bear and He expects us to be obedient. In the end He will triumph.

  47. Tom says:

    Cardinal Dolan, reading the comments here one can clearly see the devils are rattling the gates of Heaven. There are many commentors who claim to be Catholics who then go on to make very un-Catholic claims. This is proof of something that I believe has been a problem since I was a boy back in the ’60’s. CCD classes aren’t teaching proper catechism. We need to go back to the good old Baltimore Catechism and teach it cover to cover. If we did that we wouldn’t have “Catholics” making such ignorant statements as I’ve read here today. It’s time for us as a Catholic Community to fight this war as Catholics do – pull out the heavy artillery and start having organized Rosary Ralleys the way Father Pat Payton did, right there in Yankee Stadium and in every city and town in America! Cardinal, lead us into battle with your Rosery held high!

  48. RBJ says:

    In the view of many fellow Catholics here in NY, is of a Cardinal locked in a political confrontation, unwilling to engage in a dialogue. His persona is now seen as associated with the fringe right wing of the American Political spectrum (whether that is true or not is irrelevant). Such a perceived alliance, will further alienate current members (including the largest growing church population Hispanics). Also if an indirect goal of the Cardinal to defeat liberal American elected officials (which I can’t say for sure), he is certainly having the opposite effect.

    It would make more sense for the Cardinal to tone down the rhetoric (while still adhering to his principles). Failure to do so will only drive the already widening gap between the Church and members. A short term victory – but a high price to pay.

    Peace of Christ

  49. mary ann amato says:

    Dear Archbishop, Please, as Leader you are the voice of millions and you need to be bold, strong and assertive, no giving way at all!. This guy the president clearly has the devil behind him, makes him very clever and good at reading his opponents.

    Otherwise you will lose this battle for all of us. Not good.

    PS, please also get rid of the marxist bishops in the fold. They are weakening you.

    And God bless you,
    Mary ann

  50. John Davis says:

    It seems that His Eminence is getting a lot of advice through the responses to this blog. I’m just thankful that Almighty God has raised up for His people a leader that will speak truth and not cower to the forces of evil.