NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was a sharp rebuke Wednesday from Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan that put even more pressure on the president to calm a widening election year uproar. The issue at hand was the president’s insistence that Catholic institutions provide free birth control to their employees.
Dolan came to the South Bronx to bless a library, but he had no blessings — just harsh words — for President Barack Obama, who wants Catholic institutions to pay for birth control, the morning after pill and other services for people who work for them.
“The federal government should do what it’s traditionally done since July 4, 1776, namely back out of intruding into the internal life of a church,” Dolan told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
The leader of the New York Archdiocese picked up support from Speaker John Boehner, who said either Obama reverses the policy or the House will.
“The federal government has drifted dangerously beyond its constitutional boundaries. This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country must not stand and will not stand,” Boehner said.
The attacks left the White House foundering. It wants to find some way to calm Catholic opposition, but will not back down on the policy, itself.
“I want to be clear today that the commitment to insuring the women have access to these important health care services remains very strong,” Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
And there are many others who are falling into line behind the president, including New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, reports CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.
“The power to decide whether or not to use contraception lies with a woman, not her boss,” Sen. Gillibrand said.
“It’s time to tell those Republicans mind you’re own business,” Sen. Lautenberg said.
It has been suggested that one avenue of compromise could include granting leeway for a church-related organization not to cover birth control, but refer employees to another insurer that will provide the coverage.
Dolan would not comment on that proposal but said, “I would welcome the fact that officials of the government are saying we need to rethink that.”
The Catholic Church is still developing its strategy on how to deal with the issue. Dolan met Wednesday with members of the Catholic League and other organizations. Sources told Kramer a massive march on Washington is one of the possibilities.
The issue has also exploded on the campaign trail and in Washington. Carney made the unusual move of calling Mitt Romney by name, charging it is “ironic” for him to be against the policy, since as Massachusetts governor he presided over a similar one.
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