President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan has announced that the Church will not comply with Barack Obama’s administration's requirement, that most employers should supply health insurance, including birth control.
Dolan said that while the Catholic Church leaders are ready to work toward a resolution with the federal officials, they will press on with challenges to the mandate in legislatures and in court.
The Archbishop of New York did not say whether the bishops would disobey the mandate if the lawsuits fail or church leaders cannot resolve their disagreements with the Department of Health.
Speaking to reporters at a national bishops meeting he said, “The only thing we're certainly not prepared to do is give in. We're not violating our consciences.
He added, “I would say no door is closed except for the door to capitulation.”
Under President Barack Obama’s regulations, houses of worship are exempt, however, religiously affiliated hospitals, charities, and colleges are not.
Earlier this year there had been promises made by the Obama administration that faith-affiliated employers would be excluded. So far these details have not been addressed. Many Catholic hospitals and other religious leaders support Obama’s health care overhaul and so far hammering out these differences seems impossible.
So far many Catholic diocese and charities, including the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana, have sued over the health care mandate.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops is at the center of this national campaign which they say is bent on preserving religious freedom. The US Department of Health adopted the rule, including birth control in health care, to protect women’s health by allowing them to space their pregnancies.
The Reverend Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, told the Associated Press he believes the Obama administration should make a compromise with the Catholic Church.
He said while many Catholics support gay marriage and controversial issues they would be against anything that disrupts their social work in community among the poor, war refugees and other disadvantaged people.
Reese said, “This is a situation where being a gracious victor is not only the right thing to do, it makes good political sense…It's still not doomsday yet.”
Earlier this year, Dolan committed to fighting against Obama’s health legislation. He said, “We kind of got our Irish up when leaders in government seemed to be assigning an authoritative voice to Catholic groups that are not the bishops.
“If you want an authoritative voice, go to the bishops.”
A White House spokesman did not immediately comment.
Read more: Timothy Dolan: Bishops and Obama’s White House not working out “wrinkles” on mandate
Millions more Irish birth, marriage and death records free online