Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York mixed congratulations with veiled criticism in a letter sent to President Barack Obama after he was elected to a second term.
“In my capacity as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I write to express my congratulations on your re-election as President of the United States,” he wrote. “The people of our country have again entrusted you with a great responsibility.The Catholic Bishops of the United States offer our prayers that God will give you strength and wisdom to meet the difficult challenges that face America.”
“In particular, we pray that you will exercise your office to pursue the common good, especially in care of the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn, the poor, and the immigrant,” Dolan continued. “We will continue to stand in defense of life, marriage, and our first, most cherished liberty, religious freedom.”
By referencing religious freedom, the bishop was alluding to the so-called contraception mandate. The new Health & Human Services Department rule requires most employers to provide their employees with health insurance plans that cover contraceptive drugs and devices. Churches and some other religious institutions are exempt from the rule. However, critics of the contraception mandate claim that requiring Catholic employers to provide contraception to their employees is a violation of religious liberty.
The Obama administration offered a compromise in February, exempting religious employers from having to pay for contraception by shifting the cost to insurance companies. But the compromise was rejected by many leading Catholics, including Dolan.
“May God bless you and Vice President Biden as you prepare for your second term in service to our country and its citizens,” the Cardinal ended his letter.
Dolan is also a vocal opponent of abortion rights and same sex marriage. While delivering the benediction at the Democratic National Convention in September, he attacked marriage equality and called for the unborn to be protected.
[Ed. note: Cardinal Dolan has no relation to the author of this piece.]