Catholics Criticize Cardinal Dolan for Lamenting That Catholics Could've Been 'Cheerleaders' for Obamacare

December 3, 2013 - 3:45 PM

Cardinal Timothy Dolan

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) --  A number of prominent lay Catholics are taking issue with New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s statement on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that were it not for the Obamacare's treatment of abortion, undocumented immigrants and provisions that require they violate the "dictates of our conscience," Catholics would be among the loudest “cheerleaders” for Obamacare.

When “Meet the Press” host David Gregory asked the cardinal whether he supports the “overall goal” of Obamacare, Dolan replied that the Catholic bishops were “early supporters” of universal health insurance and should be its “cheerleaders” now.

“What about Obamacare? You have voiced your displeasure with certain aspects of it in terms of mandates for hospitals and so forth. What about the overall goal?” Gregory asked Dolan. “Do you think it will ultimately prevail? Would you like it, do you think it’s important for our country that universal health care insurance be available?”

“Yep, and I’m glad you allow me to make that distinction,” Dolan replied. “We bishops are really in kind of a tough place because we’re for universal, comprehensive. life-affirming healthcare. We, the bishops of the United States--can you believe it, in 1919 came out for more affordable, more comprehensive, more universal health care. That’s how far back we go in this matter, okay. So we’re not Johnny-come-latelys.

"We've been asking for reform in healthcare for a long time. So we were kind of an early supporter in this," the cardinal added. "Where we started bristling and saying, 'Uh-oh, first of all this isn't comprehensive, because it's excluding the undocumented immigrant and it's excluding the unborn baby,' so we began to bristle at that.

"And then secondly we said, 'And wait a minute, we who are pretty good Catholics who are kind of among the pros when it comes to providing healthcare, do it because of our religious conviction,and because of the dictates of our conscience, and now we're being asked to violate some of those.'

“So that's when we began to worry and draw back and say, 'Mr. President, please, you're really kind of pushing aside some of your greatest supporters here. We want to be with you, we want to be strong. And if you keep doing this, we're not going to be able to be one of your cheerleaders. And that, sadly, is what happened.”.

“How dare he say that Catholics should be ‘cheerleaders’ of Obamacare,” Judie Brown, president of the American Life League (ALL), told CNSNews.com. “He’s a pathetic example of a shepherd of the Catholic Church.”

If the former chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and his fellow bishops had spoken out against the “total opposition to Catholic teaching” by prominent Catholics in the Obama administration like Vice President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and united their flock against the passage of Obamacare, they would not have to deal with the contraceptive mandate now, Brown pointed out.

“[Dolan] is a media darling,” she added. “They promote him as the preeminent Catholic speaker in the U.S. because they know what he’s saying suits their agenda, not what the Church teaches.

“I’ve known Dolan for over 20 years, since he was the archbishop of Milwaukee, and it has not been what you would call a friendly relationship. That’s because I was one of the original authors of the campaign to get the bishops in the United States to follow Canon Law 915 and deny Communion to people who were persisting in the public promotion of a grave evil, such as abortion. Cardinal Dolan has never agreed to enforce 915.”

Brown predicts that the bishops will acquiesce if the courts uphold the contraceptive mandate: “It’s so very sad. The Catholic Church has the ability to shut down the Obamacare mandate. It would go away if they shut the doors of every Catholic facility, but they won’t – and Obama knows they won’t.”

Cardinal Dolan’s statement “is troubling, to say the least,” said L. Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center (MRC), the parent company of CNSNews.com. “Who is the 'we' in this conversation? Certainly not the Catholic Church.

“It is simply untrue that the Catholic Church is one of Obamacare's greatest supporters. It is simply untrue that the Catholic Church 'wants to be' with Mr. Obama on this. It is simply untrue that the Catholic Church wants to be a cheerleader for a policy sold to the public through deceit, with projections that were false, and based on a formula that is guaranteed not to succeed.

“I say this respectfully: Your Eminence, you speak for yourself here, not the Church," Bozell said.

“I just continue to be deeply disappointed in [Dolan],” Michael Voris, founder of Church Militant TV, told CNSNews.com. Voris agreed that Obamacare would not have passed if Dolan and other members of the hierarchy had actively opposed it.

“They don’t want to rock the boat. They run the Church like it’s a corporation. Less than five U.S. bishops said, ‘We will defy this,’” Voris said. “The other 300 said nothing, and a good number of them quietly supported it. They won’t make the tough choices. They’re constantly siding with a pro-abortion, liberal, socialist-minded agenda.”

“The Faith has been watered down,” he added. “It’s like the 11th Commandment is ‘Never give offense’ - and the other 10 have been erased.”

Dr. Christopher Manion, who teaches political science at Christendom College and is currently writing a book about the relationship between the Catholic bishops and the federal government, told CNSNews.com that ever since World War I, the Catholic Church and the federal government have been “joined at the hip.”

“Most bishops grew up in Democratic households and carry with them a nostalgia for the Democratic Party of 50 years ago that was for the working man, for the family, and against their exploitation by employers and large corporations.” That relationship was “cemented” during the New Deal, and culminated in the Church’s active participation in Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” welfare programs, Manion said.

“With FDR, it was arm in arm. After LBJ, it was hands out looking for money.”

Manion pointed to a March 31, 2012 Wall Street Journal article in which Dolan himself admitted that the church’s sex abuse scandal “intensified our laryngitis over speaking about issues of chastity and sexual morality.”

“They lack fortitude. They haven’t taught morality in 50 years,” Manion said. As far as the contraceptive mandate is concerned, he added, “I only pray they do the right thing under tremendous pressure. There is a powerful temptation not to, and reasons that can be easily rationalized.”

During the same NBC interview, Cardinal Dolan also said that Catholics had been “out-marketed” in the battle over same-sex marriage.

“Even New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd said she was stunned by the lack of opposition form the bishops over gay marriage,” Vorhis said. “Dolan gave one radio interview at an obscure station in Albany, but there was no call from the USCCB, which let out every stop for immigration [reform] even though nobody goes to hell for illegal immigration.”

“What about the eternal fate of these people?” Vorhis asked, adding that he is devoting part of his radio show on Wednesday evening to a discussion of Dolan’s remarks