HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — Cardinal Timothy Dolan called on Roman Catholic worshippers Saturday to become more involved in politics as the church stands against the government in what he called a "freedom of religion battle," as he spoke about the recent controversy involving contraceptive coverage.
Speaking at Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville, the spiritual leader of the Archdiocese of New York said the U.S. government is engaged in "an unwarranted, unprecedented radical intrusion." He told the crowd they "live in an era that seems to discover new rights every day."
"We're not trying to impose our teachings on anybody," said Dolan in his 45-minute speech to a packed auditorium of about 1,000 people. "We're simply saying, don't impose your teaching upon us and make us do as a church what we find unconscionable to do."
Some religious organizations protested when President Barack Obama moved to mandate that religious-affiliated institutions such as hospitals and universities include free birth control coverage in their employee health plans.
Obama later said religious employers could opt out, but insurers must pay for the coverage.
Proponents say the plan is a breakthrough for women's rights, but Dolan and other leaders say it violates religious freedom.
Dolan, who is also president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told reporters after the speech that they are in discussion with legal experts and constitutional scholars to determine whether legal action is necessary.