During a weekend interview, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, took the Obama administration to task again for its controversial mandate requiring religious employers to pay for birth control and drugs that can cause abortions.
Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Dolan said “We didn’t ask for the fight, but we’re not going to back away from it.”
“You’ve got a dramatic, radical intrusion of a government bureaucracy into the internal life of the church,” Dolan said. “Our problem is the government is intruding into the life of faith in the church that they shouldn’t be doing.”
“I think the public square is impoverished when people might be coerced to put a piece of duct tape over their mouth keeping them from bringing their deepest held convictions to the conversation,” he said.
Cardinal Dolan said most Catholic institutions self-insure, so they will still have to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs.
“We still find ourselves in a very tough spot,” Dolan said, “and we’re still going to continue to express what we believe is not just a religious point of view but a constitutional point of view that America is at her best when the government doesn’t force her citizens or a group of citizens in a religious creed to violate their deepest held moral convictions.”
Dolan told the host, Bob Schieffer, that Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum was right when it came to former president John F. Kennedy having it wrong on the supposed separation of church and state.
“I would’ve cheered what John Kennedy said, he was right,” Dolan said. “That having been said, I would also say that Senator Santorum had a good point.”
Dolan added that Kennedy’s statement “has been misinterpreted to mean that a separation of Church and State also means a cleavage, a wall, between one’s faith and one’s political decisions.”
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“Do you worry about getting too involved in politics?” Schieffer asked Dolan.
“Yeah, I do worry about that, Bob,” Dolan answered, “and this is a good place for me to remind everybody, we didn’t ask for this fight, … but we’re not going to back away from it.
“Yeah, I don’t think religion should be too involved in politics, but I also don’t think the government and politics should be overly involved in the church. And that’s our problem here. Our problem is the government is intruding into the life of faith and in the church.”
Bishop William Lori, archbishop-designate of Baltimore, weighed in as well this weekend in a Meet the Press interview.
“What we’ve seen is an erosion of religious liberty,” Lori said. “Our teachings had been accommodated, but now they are not being accommodated.”
“If you’re only serving your own, hiring your own, inculcating your own doctrine, you’re exempt. But the minute you serve the common good, which is what all of our organizations do, then you’re not exempt. Then you’re subject to having to provide, fund or facilitate services which are contrary to the church’s teaching. I don’t think we should have to do that,” Lori said.