E. J. Dionne Jr. has some advice for Cardinal-designate Dolan: Apologize to Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association. Why? Because earlier this week Dolan suggested that she endorsed President Obama's proposed revision to the contraception mandate because, as Dionne puts it, "she's in it for the money that might flow to Catholic hospitals."

"She's in a bind," the cardinal-designate said of Sister Carol. "When she's talking to (HHS Secretary Kathleen) Sebelius and the president of the United States, in some ways, these are people who are signing the checks for a good chunk of stuff that goes on in Catholic hospitals. It's tough for her to stand firm. Understandably, she's trying to make sure that anything possible, any compromise possible, that would allow the magnificent work of Catholic health care to continue, she's probably going to be innately more open to than we would."

Apparently it doesn't matter that Keehan was one of the first to criticize the original mandate. Now that she's expressed approval for the new framework (and, to be sure, it's not unreserved), we can discern her true motive: money. Back to Dionne:

Why shouldnt Sister Carol have spoken out immediately in support of the compromise? The Bishops certainly did not complain when she spoke out immediately against the original rule. Does that mean you only have to clear statements when they are supportive of Obama? Second, Archbishop Dolan, who may have thought he was speaking sympathetically of Sister Carol and her role, is implying that she is somehow intimidated by the fact that she is dealing with people who are signing the checks for a good chunk of stuff that goes on in Catholic hospitals. This does not offer her the basic respect of assuming that she is speaking from her conscience.And then there is that condescending, It's tough for her to stand firm. Dont the Bishops have enough problems already with women who see them as unresponsive to their concerns without their leader saying something like this about a nun who has spent her whole life serving the sick and the needy?

Bishops may be feeling lingering resentment over Keehan's disagreement with their interpretation of the Affordable Care Act. But questioning her motives was a cheap shot.

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

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