Mandate Standoff?

In a strongly worded letter to his fellow bishops, released on March 2, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York charged that White House officials failed to consider the U.S. bishops’ concerns that the federal mandate governing employer coverage of contraception and sterilization violated principles of religious freedom. An invitation from the White House to “work out the wrinkles” regarding the mandate failed to reach an agreement, and the effort “seems to be stalled,” he said. Cardinal Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, complained that during a recent meeting with White House officials, U.S.C.C.B. staff members were told that “broader concerns of religious freedom” are “off the table.” A White House source denied that appraisal and complained that some bishops and U.S.C.C.B. staff members seemed more “interested in the politics of this thing” than in a negotiated end to the standoff.

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