Fact-checking Cardinal Dolan.

As Bryan Cones notes, Cardinal Timothy Dolan appeared on CBS This Morning yesterday to discuss the dozen lawsuits filed by Catholic agencies against the Obama administration over the contraception mandate. During the interview, Cardinal Dolan repeated the bishops' objection to the structure of the religious exemption:

They tell us if you're really going be considered a church, if you're going to be really exempt from these demands of the government, well, you have to propagate your Catholic faith in everything that you do, you can serve only Catholics and employ only Catholics.

That's not true.

In order to qualify for a full exemption, a religious institution must be nonprofit, it must "primarily" employ and serve co-religionists, and its purpose must be the inculcation of religious values. That language is deliberately vague, of course, and there are good reasons to object to the way the Department of Health and Human Services designed the exemption -- although that the government would try to figure out which institutions are religious and which are not is hardly unprecedented. But as a simple matter of fact the exemption is quite a bit broader than Cardinal Dolan claims.When Rose asked Dolan about President Obama's proposed accommodation, Dolan called it "superficial." Because "most Catholic entities are self-insured," Dolan said, "we're still going to be paying for it [contraception coverage] anyway." Apart from the fact that, according to a Catholic News Service press release article, the number of people who work for self-insured Catholic organizations is not known, the cardinal failed to acknowledge that HHS has published a document suggesting arrangements that would shift the provision of contraception coverage from employers to third parties.Later in the interview Charlie Rose asked Dolan what he makes of Georgetown's decision to invite HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to speak during commencement weekend. "I do think that's a problem," the cardinal said. "Georgetown is the oldest Catholic university in the country. Part of Catholic identity is to be in union with the bishops." He continued, explaining that Georgetown had invited "someone who has used the word 'war' in describing the relationship between the government and the Catholic Church." That's also not quite right. First, being united with the bishops is not the same as agreeing with their policy positions. And second, while one can debate the accuracy and wisdom of Sebelius's language, the war she described -- in October 2011 -- was not between the government and the Catholic Church, but one being waged byRepublicans against women's health.And then the cardinal said something rather provocative. He suggested the invitation showed that the university isn't sufficiently Catholic. "We're disappointed at that [the invitation], but we're not shocked. Because unfortunately some of our Catholic universities -- thank God not many -- have been moving toward a more secular model, where they would take their cues from what's happening in contemporary events instead of the timeless wisdom of the church. I'm afraid that's what might be happening here." Thankfully, as Georgetown theologian Alan Mitchell reported on this very blog, the university's commencement was not stripped of Catholic identity:

I am happy to report that the CINO Catholic university firmly in the hold of the Prince of Darkness covered itself in shame by incorporating many direct mentions of its Catholic and Jesuit heritage. There was the awarding of the Edward Bunn SJ award for teaching excellence, awarded to a neurobiologist who referenced the importance of Georgetowns Catholic and Jesuit character and exhorted her listeners to become men and women for others. Then there was the awarding of medals for academic excellence which were named for Jesuits:the Athansius Kirscher SJ Medal for excellence in music; the Matteo Ricci Medal for excellence in Chinese; the Francis Xavier SJ Medal for excellence in Japanese; The Francis Dineen, SJ medal for excellence in Linguistics and the Ignatius Loyola Medal for the student who best exempYlifies Georgetowns Catholic and Jesuit values. There were additional medals named for individuals who served others selflessly awarded to students who during their four years at Georgetown did the same. Also medals for excellence in Theology and Philosophy. The Benediction was offered by the Rector of the Jesuit community. No medals were awarded for the student who best exemplifies the values of Planned Parenthood or HHS.

So now you know.

Grant Gallicho joined Commonweal as an intern and was an associate editor for the magazine until 2015. 

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