The head of the USCCB spoke with reporters the other day about his recent meeting at the White House.
The standoff between the White House and the nation’s Catholic bishops over gay marriage and other hot-button issues may be easing after a quiet Oval Office meeting between President Obama and the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Still, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York and other prelates made it clear at their annual meeting on Monday (Nov. 14) that they still see an array of threats that pose an imminent danger to the church’s freedom unless sufficient religious exemptions are granted.
Dolan, president of the bishops’ conference, described his Nov. 8 meeting with Obama — first reported on Saturday by the National Catholic Reporter — as “extraordinarily friendly.”“It was very candid. I would say there were areas of agreement and disagreement,” Dolan told reporters at the bishops’ gathering.
“But I would say this: that I found the president of the United States to be very open to the sensitivities of the Catholic community that were worried about an intrusion into religious liberty.”
Dolan said Obama was “very sensitive” to the bishops’ concerns over gay marriage and insurance mandates to provide artificial birth control coverage as part of the new health care reform law.
“He was very ardent in his desire to assure me that this is something he will look long and hard at. And I left there feeling a bit more at peace about this issue than when I entered.”
That sentiment, coming after Dolan’s first face-to-face meeting with Obama since he was elected to lead the bishops last year, marks a sea change from tense relations between the U.S. hierarchy and the administration.
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