Cardinal Dolan joins letter against mandate 'accommodation'

Cardinal Timothy Dolan speaks to the press at the North American College in Rome CNA US Catholic News 2 23 12 Cardinal Timothy Dolan speaks to the press at the North American College in Rome.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan joined more than 500 university presidents, academics and religious leaders in a letter denouncing President Obama's contraception mandate "accommodation."

The letter, released Feb. 14 with the title "Unacceptable," characterizes the administration's proposed accommodation as a "cheap accounting trick" that insults the intelligence of Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims and other believers.

Cardinal Dolan, who serves as Archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. bishops' conference, joined other signers from numerous religious and political perspectives.

The Becket Fund, which released the letter and is fighting the mandate in court, said the letter is "an unprecedented coming together of people to defend religious liberty and the rights of conscience against a deeply misguided and unjust governmental action."

The Obama administration announced on Feb. 10 that insurance companies, rather than religious employers, must provide coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs.

While the action was billed as a compromise, the letter says that the new rule "still coerces religious institutions and individuals to purchase insurance policies that include the very same services."

"It is no answer to respond that the religious employers are not 'paying' for this aspect of the insurance coverage," the statement reads. "For one thing, it is unrealistic to suggest that insurance companies will not pass the costs of these additional services on to the purchasers."

The letter's original drafters included Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon, Princeton professor Robert P. George, Yuval Levin of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Notre Dame professor O. Carter Snead, and The Catholic University of America president John Garvey.

Along with Cardinal Dolan, signers include U.S. bishops' conference vice-president Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Dr. Paige Patterson, Rabbi David Novak of the University of Toronto, Muslim scholar Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, and former Anglican Primate of Nigeria Archbishop Peter Akinola.

The number of signatories to the letter has increased since Feb. 13, when around 200 had signed it.

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