(Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar)
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), told Roman Catholic leaders on Tuesday that despite President Barack Obama's re-election last week, the fight to repeal provisions of Obamacare is not over.
"The only thing we're certainly not prepared to do is give in. We're not violating our consciences. I would say no door is closed except for the door to capitulation," Dolan said after the meeting.
For the past year, the USCCB, backed by the Vatican, has been protesting the HHS Mandate in the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, which requires religious employers to provide insurance coverage for employees that includes birth control and contraceptives. As those go against Roman Catholic values, bishops have claimed that the religious freedom of Catholic business owners is being imposed upon.
While Cardinal Dolan refused to comment on whether and how bishops would legally oppose the mandate, he said that "It's still not doomsday yet."
Catholic organizations have warned that they may be forced to end charity outreach programs because of this provision, and have staged multiple protests nationwide against the HHS Mandate.
President Obama has tried to work on the conflict by providing some exceptions to the rule and maintaining that it is the insurance companies, and not the employers, who are directly providing the forms of birth control, but many Catholic organizations have said that that is not enough.
Despite protests from clergy, the HHS Mandate might not have been a major issue for Catholics in general, who were rather split during the election. President Obama won 50 percent of the Catholic vote, compared to 48 percent for his rival, GOP candidate Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon. There was a notable difference among racial lines, however, with 59 percent of White Catholics voting for Romney, while 75 percent of Latino Catholics supporting Obama.
The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, shared with The Associated Press that he believes there should be a compromise between the two sides. He noted that although many Roman Catholics disagree with the Holy See when it comes to some issues such as same-sex marriage, most would oppose anything that got in the way of the church's social service work with the poor.
"This is a situation where being a gracious victor is not only the right thing to do, it makes good political sense," Reese said.
On Monday, during the USCCB General Assembly Fall meeting, Dolan reminded attendees that despite all the challenges ahead of the Catholic Church, their main focus should remain on God.
"We cannot engage culture unless we let Him first engage us; we cannot dialogue with others unless we first dialogue with Him; we cannot challenge unless we first let Him challenge us," Dolan told the bishops.
The cardinal remained impartial during the election process and has prayed for both Republican and Democratic leaders. He delivered the closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September, where he asked all Americans to respect God's institutions, the dignity of life, and the basic liberties afforded to all.