NEW YORK (PIX11)—Timothy Cardinal Dolan declared that President Obama is in violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution over his health care policy.
In his first extended local television interview since being elevated to Cardinal in February, Dolan said the Church is prepared to take the battle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In an interview on "PIX 11 News Closeup," the Cardinal was asked directly if he would say the President was in violation of the amendment that protects religious institutions' freedoms, and he replied, "I would."
That amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof." He said the issue over the administration's mandate to require employers, including religious groups, to provide contraception insurance coverage for employees "is morally toxic and an intrusion into the internal life of the Church."He continued, "The government, for the first time, is attempting to say what a church and and can't do. That bothers us." And he declared, "It's not about contraception, not about a Catholic issue. It's not about partisan politics. This is a radical violation of the First Amendment." He said he gave the President "credit" for attempting to soften the mandate by requiring insurers and not church employers to foot the bill. But that is still unacceptable, the Cardinal said, partially because in many cases religious institutions are self-insured, "and we would still be paying for something we consider morally illicit."
Asked whether the Church was prepared to take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has had a Catholic majority since 2006, Dolan, who serves not only as the Archbishop of New York, but as well as the President of the U.S. Conference of Bishops, said, "I think we are going to have to. What recourse does any citizen have. You can go to the Executive Branch. We tried that and unfortunately we're not making much progress. You can go to the Congress, which we are doing So what's our recourse, like any other citizen that feels aggrieved, we go to the Judiciary, and I don't think we'll be reluctant to do that."
The Cardinal conceded he is dismayed over the fact that many of the Catholic faith are not concerned over the contraception issue, but he is uplifted by the support of most Catholics over "the religious freedom thing, and that's what we have to focus on."
Regarding the reprimand by the Vatican of the organization that represents 55,000 Nuns in the U.S. because of their progressiveness and promotion of what was called "some radical themes incompatible with the Catholic faith," including their endorsement of Obamacare against the wishes of the Bishops, Cardinal Dolan said he did not think the rebuke was too harsh. "No, I think it's been pretty effective. This has been a long-time in coming." He pointed out that everybody in the Church "is under the gun these days. We Bishops get rebuked. They ask us tough questions. That's the role of the Vatican, to encourage to love, to thank and to challenge when they're worried about things."
The interview covered a wide-range of issues, including the efforts to bring back the 22 million Catholics who have defected the Church; the role of religion in politics; the sex-abuse scandal among priests and New York's same sex marriage law. On the latter, Cardinal Dolan said he felt "betrayed" by members of the legislature who assured him lasr year that the bill had a slim chance of passage. "Many of them led us to believe that this bill wasn't going to go anywhere. In retrospect, I wish I had not listened...because we should have probably been a lot more vigilant had I not had those assurances."
Regarding this year's presidential election, Dolan said the Church does not endorse candidates. He said the Church can speak out on policy, however. Asked if he would ask people subtlety not to support President Obama because his health care mandate, he said "I don't think I would." Reminded that he has pledged to use political muscle to "fight the enemies of religion," he was asked if that was tantamount to an un-endorsement." He provided no direct response, other than to say "keep in mind that there are some Republicans bristling on that too."
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