Obama Sandbags the Archbishop

At the end of Sunday mass at the church this writer attends in Washington, D.C., the pastor asked the congregation to remain for a few minutes.

Then, on the instructions of Cardinal Archbishop Donald Wuerl, the pastor proceeded to read a letter.

In the letter, the Church denounced the Obama administration for ordering all Catholic schools, hospitals and social services to provide, in their health insurance coverage for employes, free contraceptives, free sterilizations and free “morning-after” pills.

Parishioners were urged to contact their representatives in Congress to bring about a reversal of President Obama’s new policy.

Now, not only is this a battle the Church must fight, it is a battle the Church can win if it has the moral stamina to say the course.

In forcing the Church to violate its own principles, Obama has committed an act of federal aggression, crossing the line between church and state to appease his ACLU and feminist allies, while humiliating the Catholic bishops.

Should the Church submit, its moral authority in America would disappear.

Now, undeniably, the church milquetoast of past decades that refused to discipline pro-abortion Catholics allowed the impression to form that while the hierarchy may protest, eventually it will go along to get along with a Democratic Party that was once home to most Catholics.

Obama’s problem today is that not only is he forcing the Church to violate her conscience, he dissed the highest prelate in America.

In November, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, held what he describes as an “extraordinarily friendly” meeting with Obama at the White House.

The president assured the archbishop of his respect for the Church, and the archbishop came away persuaded Obama would never force the Church to adopt any policy that would violate her principles.

Ten days ago, Obama sandbagged the archbishop

He informed Cardinal-designate Dolan by phone that, with the sole concession of the Church being given an extra year, to August 2013, to comply, the new policy, as set down by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, will be imposed. All social and educational institutions of the Catholic church will offer health insurance covering birth control, or face fines.

“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said Archbishop Dolan, who went on:

“To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their health care is literally unconscionable. … This represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty.”

Where do Obama and Sebelius get the power to do this?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law on March 23, 2010, the colloquial name for which is “Obamacare.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America is celebrating the new policy. Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, calls it a “health care issue … based on what’s best for women’s health.” Others have argued that many Catholic women practice birth control.

But that Catholics choose to ignore doctrine does not justify the U.S. government imposing on Catholic institutions a policy that violates Catholic teaching.

Even Washington Post liberal E.J. Dionne, in a Jan. 30 column titled “Obama’s Breach of Faith,” charges that the president “threw his progressive Catholic allies under the bus. …

“Speaking as an American liberal who believes that religious pluralism imposes certain obligations on government … the Church’s leaders had a right to ask for broader relief from a contraception mandate that would require it to act against its own teachings.”

Why did Obama do it?

Facing a close race for a second term, Obama chose not to antagonize his left. Yet he must have known that siding with them meant leaving Archbishop Dolan with egg all over his face. Obama, calculatedly, came down on the side of those he believes to be more crucial to his re-election.

This affront should tell the Catholic hierarchy, if they did not already know, where they stand in the party of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Kathleen Sebilius. And where they sit — in the back of the bus.

Yet if the bishops will look upon this crisis of conscience, this insult, as an opportunity, they can effect its reversal and recapture a measure of the moral authority they have lately lost.

Not only should the bishops file suit in federal court against the president and Sebelius for violation of the constitutional principle of separation of church and state, they should inform the White House that no bishop will give an invocation at the Democratic Convention.

Then, they should inform the White House that in the last two weeks of the 2012 campaign, priests in every parish will read from the pulpit at Sunday mass a letter denouncing Obama as anti-Catholic for denying the Church its right to live according to its beliefs.

If Obama loses the Catholic vote, he loses the election.

The White House will come around, fast. Rely upon it.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?”To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


Pat Buchanan


Patrick Buchanan is a conservative political commentator and syndicated columnist and author of several books, including Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • Florin S.

    Hopefully this will bring all of our Cardinals and Bishops into agreement. Because Pelosi, Biden and others have been permitted to consider themselves Catholics in good standing despite there aggressive promotion of the abortion agenda not only here in the States but abroad, allowing them to receive the Eucharist, there has been much confusion not only among Catholics but even among non-Catholics. This came up during the March for Life in Washington last week. Obama and Pelosi are both becoming more aggressive in their anti-life, anti-Church agendas but Obama is not Catholic. Pelosi says she stands with Catholics in defense of Obama and his agenda and say it is courageous…how far does this woman have to go before she is no longer considered a ‘Catholic in good standing’?  What if Pelosi were to push for the legalization of pedophilia and publicly and agressively pushed this agenda throughout the globe ?  Would she still be considered a Catholic in good standing?  Permitting Pelosi and others who publicly and defiantly oppose the Church denies them the catalyst for conversion…as long as they can receive the Eucharist, they are able to convince many that abortion, the killing of unborn human babies, is a choice that all are permitted to make and whichever way they choose, it’s okay…but remember what the Lord said: “I put before you life or death, blessing or curse. to whichever you choose, stretch out your hand…CHOOSE LIFE!”…

  • dougindeap

    Some, including apparently the Church, have resorted to lies to in their efforts to oppose the health care law. Contrary to wild-eyed cries to the contrary, IT DOES NOT FORCE ANYONE TO ACT CONTRARY TO THEIR BELIEFS.

    Questions about the government requiring or prohibiting something that conflicts with someone’s faith are entirely real, but not new. The courts have occasionally confronted such issues and have generally ruled that the government cannot enact laws specifically aimed at a particular religion (which would be regarded a constraint on religious liberty contrary to the First Amendment), but can enact laws generally applicable to everyone or at least broad classes of people (e.g., laws concerning pollution, contracts, fraud, negligence, crimes, discrimination, employment, etc.) and can require everyone, including those who may object on religious grounds, to abide by them. Were it otherwise and people could opt out of this or that law with the excuse that their religion requires or allows it, the government and the rule of law could hardly operate. When moral binds for individuals can be anticipated, provisions may be added to laws affording some relief to conscientious objectors.

    Here, it may be questioned whether there is real need for such an exemption, since no one is being “forced,” as some commentators rage, to act contrary to his or her belief. In keeping with the law, those with conscientious objections to providing their employees with qualifying health plans may decline to provide their employees with any health plans and pay an assessment instead or, alternatively, provide their employees with health plans that do not qualify (e.g., ones without provisions they deem objectionable) and pay lower assessments.

  • DeaconDonB

    What’s that old saying, “You lie with dogs you are going to catch fleas.” Well the Bishops from the beginning have been in bed with Obamacare and have not had the guts to to speak out and excommunicate or deny Communion to people like Nancy Polosi, Joe Biden, HHS Kathleen Sebelius and more. Now the chickens have come home to roost, the Bishops have egg all over their faces with this ruling by HHS and the Obama Administration. But the battle has just began! This directive to force the Church to go against it beliefs is not only unconstitutional but a stupid move on the part of Obama and and all his lefty friends.I just pray that Catholics will stand up and be counted. I know I must and I hope you will too!

  • Dan Lord

    Hello, dougindeep. All I can conclude from what you’ve written is that you define the word “force” so narrowly that it can only mean: “when a gang of stormtroopers led by President Obama in a spiked helmet points a gun at an employer and commands him to give out birth control pills to his employees.” So, I guess you’re right, according to that definition. But the HHS ruling makes it crystal clear that almost all employers must provide for sterilization, abortion and artificial contraception options in their health plans or face penalties–that is simple fact. You cannot ignore how sinister and anti-constitutional that is, nor what that bodes for our future. 

  • dougindeap

    In the end, the law requires only that employers who do not provide qualifying health plans pay assessments to the government.  Unless one supposes that the employers’ religion forbids payments of money to the government (all of us should enjoy such a religion), then the law’s requirement to pay assessments DOES NOT compel those employers to act contrary to their beliefs.

    The employers may not like paying the assessments or what the government will do with the money it receives.  But that is not a moral dilemma of the sort supposed by some commentators and cynically claimed by the US Bishops Conference, but rather a garden-variety gripe common to most taxpayers–who don’t much like paying taxes and who object to this or that action of the government.  That is hardly call for a special “exemption” from the law.  Should each of us feel free to deduct from our taxes the portion that we figure would be spent on those actions (e.g., wars, health care, whatever) each of us opposes?  If someone has religious or moral objections to the teaching of evolution or to teaching black and white students in the same classroom, should we allow that person not to pay taxes used to support public schools?

  • Dan Lord

    Consider the reality of what you’re talking about: employers, already struggling against all odds to make some kind of a profit and pay all of their mountainous taxes and bills and provide for their families, and who also happen to cherish the teachings of their church, are now being told to violate what they believe or pay the government even more money. So, are they compelled to obey the law? No…but then the fines increase, followed by imprisonment, eventually (as it must). You can pretend to ignore the seriousness of all this as long as it doesn’t directly affect you, I guess, but I plan on joining all reasonable efforts to resist it.

  • dougindeap

    Inform yourself. http://pnhp.org blog/2011/03/15/employer-sponsored-health-plans-under-the-affordable-care-act/  Some employers are considering not providing health plans and instead paying assessments for economic, not religious, reasons; they see that as a simply a better business decision.  The plain fact is that the law does not compel any employer to act contrary to his or her religious beliefs.  That should be the end of any discussion of a special exemption.  Employers may not like paying money to the government, but they cannot credibly maintain that their religion forbids such payments.  That just will not wash.

  • JDBaugh


    This is a false statement on your behalf. 

    Good Christians believe that  an attack on life is never morally justified.  The Affordable Care Act clearly violates this Christian belief through the offering of various contraceptives and abortion methods.

    Good Christians also believe and have a moral obligation not only to choose against such decisions that support attacks on life, but also uphold the moral responsibility not to support the existence of such laws that enable other Christian brothers and sisters, US Citizens, etc. from making the wrong gravely immoral decisions.  Therefore, your statement is focused too much on the individuals act of choice vs. religious freedom and not the bigger picture: the US constitutional right to religious freedom which entails the freedom to support and defend religious beliefs.

    Finally, Good Americans and Christians believe strongly in first principles that founded this country written within the US Constitution.  Though the ACA has yet to be determined as constitutional or not through the US court system, common sense and reason clearly lead one to the realization that the ACA is a direct violation of these fundamentals for which the United States was built upon.  

  • Dan Lord

    That is precisely the issue: such payments do, in fact, violate their religious beliefs. That’s exactly what’s wrong with it. Whether or not some businesses can find ways to “get around it” is irrelevant. The very fact that the government is even attempting this is blatantly unconstitutional.

  • dougindeap

    If you think even payment of money to government violates some moral code, why would you think Catholics’ claim in this regard is any more worthy than that of every other taxpayer who has moral objections to this or that action of the government?  I posed this query earlier, and yet no answer has yet been offered.

  • Pingback: Obama Sandbags the Archbishop - Christian Forums()

  • Robert J

    Dear Dougindeap,

    Regarding all of your legal-ese to say there is no attack on the church or her teachings leads me to ask these questions:
    1)  Do you agree with the church’s teaching and authority regarding morals such as abortion?
    2)  If you do, then where is your defense for life?  I read your defense of legal language that, in the end, will continue to erode the teachings and authority of the church.  The death toll of millions of unborn babies in our country around the world who’s abortions were supported directly or indirectly by President Obama weigh heavily on my heart, on the heart of the Church and on the hearts of good Christians everywhere.  Do you not see that this is issue?  Life or death?

  • Dan Lord

    Absolutely no one has said that “even payment of money to government violates a moral code.” Where are you getting that? Paying money to government for lawful, morally licit purposes is good. And I never said I think Catholics’ claim in this regard is more worthy than   any other taxpayer, because it certainly isn’t. You seem strangely devoted to defending the HHS decision at all costs.

  • dougindeap

    I understand and accept that the objections are predicated on views of morality.  Whether I agree with those moral views matters little, so let’s not go down that rabbit hole.

  • dougindeap

    I’m devoted to making plain that those seeking a special exemption from the law have not made a case that differs from that of nearly every taxpayer.  Should all of us get such exemptions?

  • Dan Lord

    Yes, becauseitisn’tan”exemption.”Thefreedomtopracticemyreligionissimplyabasicright protectedbytheConstitution. 

  • Dan Lord

    See below, where there is more space.

  • Dan Lord

    To dougindeap,  repeating because the above space was too skinny: Yes, because it isn’t an”exemption.” The freedom to practice my religion is simply a basic right protected by the Constitution. Neither you nor anyone has the right to infringe upon it and call it “health care,” or “assessment” or any other code word that tyrants use when they begin trampling the rights of citizens. The word “tax” doesn’t make everything O.K.–and the American colonists felt exactly the same way as me on that issue.

  • dougindeap

    I understand that is your view or wishful thinking about the Constitution, but the law is otherwise, as summarized in my first comment.  Under constitutional law, the government cannot enact a law targeting a particular religion, but it can indeed enact a law generally applicable to everyone and require everyone, including those with religious objections, to comply with it. 

    Given that, the question at hand is whether the government should, as a matter of grace, exempt some employers from the law in order to relieve them of some requirement that they act contrary to their beliefs.  My point is that the health law, in fact, does not impose any such requirement on any employers and, thus, there is no need for an exemption. 

  • Dan Lord

    The HHS ruling does, in fact, insist that almost all health plans must include coverage of artificial contraception, abortion, and sterilization. There are no conscience protections–i.e., it doesn’t matter if a Catholic employer does not want to cover those things. He must cover them, according to the HHS ruling. This directly prohibits the free exercise of the employer’s religion. That is why it is unconstitutional, and that is why everyone is scrambling to have language that protects conscience rights put into the current legislation. 

  • dougindeap

    You are misinformed.  http://pnhp.org blog/2011/03/15/employer-sponsored-health-plans-under-the-affordable-care-act/  This
    law, in the end, requires only that employers who do not provide qualifying
    health plans pay assessments to the government. 
    Unless one supposes that the employers’ religion forbids payments of
    money to the government, then the law’s requirement to pay assessments does not
    compel those employers to act contrary to their beliefs.

  • Dan Lord

    You’re playing games with words, and it’s intellectually insulting. Paying “assessments” to the government for not having health plans that cover religiously objectionable items is simply contrary to the Constitution.