Dolan Dinner and the Cost of the Contraceptive Mandate

The controversy over Cardinal Dolan inviting Obama to the Al Smith Dinner continues.  There are many excellent comments we would like to share, but time and space does not permit, and we want to get back to Boston issues in our next post.

Still, let us go one last round for now to share a few things you may have not yet seen on the actual costs and fines associated with the Obama contraceptive mandate, and then more on Dolan dinner invitation.

Never clearly stated publicly by the bishops to our knowledge is how the mandate could financially cripple Catholic family-run private businesses, in addition to Catholic religious entities.

As the National Catholic Register reported, Time’s Up for Catholic Business Owners to plan for offering contraceptive coverage or face steep fines.  They report on new guidelines from the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

Whenever their company’s next health plan kicks in, these employers must prove that their workers have access to co-pay-free contraception, sterilization and abortion drugs, or they’ll incur heavy fines.

“[B]eginning in January 2014, an employer with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees could incur a penalty of approximately $2,000 per employee per year beyond the first 30 full-time employees not offered a health plan, as well as incur the potential legal actions taken by employees and the federal government.”

Business owners must also weigh how a withdrawal of coverage will likely affect their employees.

“The principles of stewardship and justice require employers to care for their employees; by virtue of the way in which health insurance is generally provided in the United States, this care typically includes health-insurance coverage,” the [National Catholic Bioethics Center] guidelines note.

“A sudden change in this approach could leave many employees and their families uninsured or underinsured, with little time to adjust and find affordable, quality alternatives.”

Meanwhile, employers who seek to offer plans that exclude morally objectionable services will soon face “exorbitant penalties of $100 per day per employee, as well as the potential legal actions taken by employees and by the federal government.”

Employers could refuse to pay these fines “as a form of legitimate civil disobedience against the unjust governmental mandate,” but that decision comes with “hefty legal risks that could equally threaten the livelihoods of all involved.”

One family-owned company who sued to be able to operate their business in accord with their religious beliefs is Hercules Corp. They won a preliminary injunction, but are not nearly out of the woods yet.  Here is their story, and an estimate of the costs of compliance with the Obama HHS mandate:

If Hercules had not prevailed, it would have been required to begin offering its 265 employees abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception coverage and related counseling as of November 1, the date its self-insured health care plan renewed. Because it is a private, for-profit family business, it is excluded from the mandate’s narrow religious exemption and, like all non-religious employers, is ineligible for a year-long “safe harbor” that simply delays the religious freedom violations caused by the mandate. Alternatively, it could have chosen not to comply with the mandate or to drop insurance coverage altogether for its employees, facing steep monetary penalties under Obamacare either way.

What would this fine on faith look like? If it chose to buck compliance with the mandate, starting on November 1, Hercules would be fined $100 per employee per day of non-compliance. With 265 employees, Hercules’ fine would have amounted to $800,000 per month—almost $10 million per year. If Hercules were to take the more likely action of dropping health care coverage to avoid facilitating the mandate, thereby forcing its employees into government-run exchanges, it would face a fine on faith of approximately $2,000 per employee per year, for a total of $530,000 per year.

But dismay over the mandate is not limited to the monetary impact of government-imposed fines for the free exercise of faith. In its court filings and arguments in the case, the Obama Administration has consistently pressed a view of religious liberty so narrow as to render this fundamental freedom meaningless. It has attempted to read into constitutional and statutory protections for religious freedom a condition that would suspend its application in the business context, forcing business owners to abandon their religious and moral convictions as a condition of participating in commerce. For example, the Administration’s brief opposing the preliminary injunction argued that the “Plaintiffs’ free exercise claim fails at the outset because for-profit, secular employers generally do not engage in any exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment.”

Accepting the Administration’s logic would limit the application of religious freedom to individuals alone, acting within their houses of worship on weekends. It would effectively push religion out of every sphere of public life and restrict the free exercise rights of adherents to live out their faiths in their day-to-day lives. The Administration does not appear to perceive religion as something that people of faith strive to live out daily in every aspect of their lives, however imperfectly.

Cardinal Dolan recognizes some of the the implications, as he noted in his August 1 blog post about religious freedom:

Yes, the Archdiocese of New York has joined dozens of others in filing a lawsuit against the administration and HHS, arguing that the mandate is unconstitutional.  And, yes, the administration has granted a one-year reprieve to religious agencies whose conscience would be violated by this mandate.  (That’s right – the government acknowledges that this will be a problem for many religious agencies.  But their response is, essentially, “too bad.”)

What will happen when the year is up?

I suppose one option would be for those agencies to stop offering health insurance to their employees, and pay a $2000 per employee penalty.  While some would argue that the agencies would, in fact, save money by choosing this option, it hardly seems to be the right and just way to treat your co-workers, does it?

Another option is to continue to offer health insurance, but, honoring our conscience, not include these objectionable services. There would be a $100 fine per day for each person who qualified for the coverage.  Let’s assume that an agency has 50 people for which it would be subject to this penalty.  At $100 per day, per person, over the course of the year it would pay a penalty of $1,825,000.  ($100 x 50 people x 365 days).  That’s a steep penalty from the government in order to try and convince religious agencies to turn their back on their conscience. That’s money that will then not go to serve those in need.  Many of our services could not survive this heavy penalty.

A third option, I suppose, is to capitulate and accept the strangling mandate…I don’t want to go there.  We just finished a Fortnight for Freedom, and the saints we honored – Saint Thomas More, Saint John Fisher, Saint John the Baptist, Saints Peter and Paul – would not want us to go there, either.

Yes, St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, Saints Peter and Paul, St. Edmund Campion, and many others would not want us to go there. So what option does Cardinal Dolan suggest? And what is he doing to emulate those saints and martyrs?  Among other things, he is proceeding with the Al Smith dinner and his defense of his invitation to President Obama using the excuse that we should practice civility.

Read what Mary Ann Kreitzer said at Les Femmes – The Truth:

Every time I read one of these rah-rah civility, can’t-we-all-just-get-along posts I think of other members of the hierarchy (and saints) from the past who acted just a little bit differently with death-dealing politicians.

I can’t imagine, for example, Clemens von Galen Bishop of Munster preaching about Hitler’s euthanasia program and then inviting him to dinner for a happy old time of respect and civility. And then there’s Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty tortured by the commies. I’m sure they would happily have appeared arm in arm with him for a photo op if he would only play nice. He preferred house arrest and isolation in the American Embassy. And then there’s John the Baptist who made Herod feel just a little uncomfortable. Do you think he would have attended Herod’s birthday party? And what about St. Maximilian Kolbe on whose feast day Cardinal Dolan was writing. These are men from the past with the backbone to stand up to evil men and call them to repentance. I can’t imagine them even making the silly statements we’ve seen coming from the Archdiocese.
But then the Nazis and the Commies were killing “born” people not tiny out of sight, out of mind babies in the womb. As for Herod…well, that was so long ago and everybody knows John was pretty eccentric and not really to be imitated. Besides, the unborn aren’t really quite like the rest of us. They’re just fetuses and you can’t expect a cardinal of the Church today to act like they deserve the same kind of respect and civility as a President of the United States.
Cardinal Dolan, with all due respect, I don’t buy your excuses for inviting Obama to dinner. The little murdered peers of my grandchildren deserve better. And for that matter, so do my children and grandchildren.

Here’s what I posted as a comment on the Cardinal’s blog responding to his defense of inviting Obama for dinner :

Christ ate with the low level outcasts of the culture. He never broke bread with Herod or Pilate. If we believe what we say about the babies being equal to the rest of us, eating with Obama and giving him a photo op laughing it up with you, Your Excellency, is like sitting down for a yuck with Hitler while his administration was killing the Jews, the gypsies, Catholic priests, political enemies, etc. As a mom of five and grandmother of twenty-one I can only say that I see little evidence in your act that you believe unborn babies are actually as important as bishops and cardinals. If Obama favored stabbing a bishop in the head and sucking out his brains there is no way you would entertain him for dinner. I will certainly pray for you and your brother bishops who have treated faithful Catholics in the pew like bothersome and brainless poor relations. Inviting Obama to the dinner is a scandal and there is no way to put a gloss on it that makes it less of a scandal!

BCI could not have put it better than this.  There is no other way to describe the Obama dinner invitation than to call it a scandal.  BCI also wonders how many Catholics are unaware of the extent to which the Obama HHS mandate could financially cripple or shut down private family-run businesses and Catholic institutions. Meanwhile, Catholic Charities and Cardinal Dolan are honoring the man behind it all with a speaking platform at the Al Smith dinner. Things are getting worse and worse for faithful Catholics, not better.  What do you think?

22 Responses to Dolan Dinner and the Cost of the Contraceptive Mandate

  1. naomigirls says:



  2. Mr. D says:

    “If Obama favored stabbing a bishop in the head and sucking out his brains there is no way [Dolan] would entertain him for dinner.”

    Beautifully put. Admit that you made a mistake, your Eminence, and rescind the invitation.

  3. Bill says:

    Didn’t Bain Capital invest 75 million in Stericycle? Oh, let’s not discuss that one.

    • Mack says:

      And did Bain Capital force people to buy their product or face severe penalties? So how is this relevant to Obama’s trampling on religious freedom?

      • Mack,
        Thanks for your comment. BCI was also wondering the same thing–how is a Bain Capital private equity investment in a private company in 1999 relevant to Obama violating the constitutional right to religious freedom of tens of millions of Catholics in this country, and forcing people to violate their consciences or face severe financial penalties? That said, BCI is on the record from earlier this year as having issues with the record of Mitt Romney as well, and we are frankly not at all enthusiastic about anyone on the published speaking agenda for the 2012 Al Smith dinner.

      • Michael says:

        That is ridiculous … two wrongs don’t make a right.

        Mack, that is similarly ridiculous … your answer should be that, yes, Bill, we agree … Mitt Romney should not have been invited to the dinner as well. Lest, we look hypocritical.

      • Bill says:

        what do you think Stericycle did with the remains of the aborted? Give them a good Christian burial? You cannot support someone trampling on your precious religious freedom, how can you support someone who’s profited from abortions? The hypocrisy is maddening. Can’t wait to watch the Bishops squirm when they have to endorse Ryan a year after calling his budget plan “immoral”.

      • Mary Reilly says:

        Bill, when presented with two candidates for political office whose records on non-negotiable moral issues are both problematic, it is permissible to vote for the one whose record is LEAST objectionable or problemmatic. If you don’t see Obama as rabidly anti-Catholic and proven unworthy of another 4 years, I don’t know what to tell you that would sway you. I, for one, will vote for Romney in order to get rid of Obama, but will do so holding my nose.

  4. JRBreton says:

    Another alternative: All businesses, enterprises, hospitals, schools, etc. who object to the mandate might coordinate to a strike. All of them might declare that of a certain date they are closing their business and putting their employees on the street until such time as the mandate is rescinded.

    What reaction do you think would result from a sudden increase in the unemployment by 50 million workers, all showing up at the unemployment offices of the nation on the same date.?

    How much of the economy do you think would survive such a strike?

    It only takes some organization.

  5. Mack says:

    When he was dragged before Herod, Jesus refused to even talk to him!
    Would the Cardinal claim Jesus was being uncivil?

  6. Carolyn says:

    This is one of the few times I can’t see BCI’s point of view. There have been other times, but not many. Cardinal Dolan has invited the two presidential candidates to the Al Smith Dinner, a specifically political gathering. Christ dined with Judas, knowing what Judas knew. Dolan knows that Obama is anathema to those who would give unborn children a chance.

    The presidential elections since 1972 where I have been able to enter the voting booth without a clothespin on my nose were few and far between. But if you are among the 1/3 of all baby boomers who will retire during the next four years, and you would prefer to give someone new the chance to oversee this country’s fiscal policy, then maybe it’s OK for the Archbishop of New York to invite both candidates to the Al Smith dinner in a presidential election year. You don’t have to vote for either one, but you can’t vote for both.

    Cardinal Dolan has limned how all citizens must behave in an election year. Be glad you don’t have to use your nose to listen to the politicking, and be glad that Dolan has leveraged the dinner to turn up the heat on those who would restrict religious freedom. Keep your clothespin handy.

  7. Stephen says:

    I can see your point.
    It’s only abortion right?
    I mean what is the big deal that the current US President has forced legislation that legally mandates that all employers including The Church be required to provide abortion as a benefit.
    Ya, I can see your baby-boomer, [edited by BCI] good-guyism, relativistic point as clear as day.

    The Judas metaphor …
    He was an essential part of the salvation story, an event that occurred once. A man who was physically close to Christ, who represented his presence on earth publicly but cloaked great evil in his heart. A man who had notoriety, and some benefit from the grace of walking with the King and Savior. A man who, in the end when given an opportunity to financially benefit by his association with Jesus, betrayed him for gold.

    So who is the real Judas in this Dinner story?

    If your [edited by BCI] mind can not even recognize a politician with a philosophical and fundamental rejection of the sanctity of human life could you please turn in your Catholic card?

    If it helps to clear your thinking on it, picture dead babies on the plates.

  8. Carolyn says:


    I get that you can’t think, but what explains everything is that you can’t read. Read my entry again. You clearly can’t process that a person who is staunchly pro-life could understand the necessity of having both presidential candidates at a political dinner.

    You really have made BCI over into something different than it was two years ago. Anger destroys the vessel that contains it. So long as BCI contains your acrid comments, the destruction is inevitable.

  9. Jack O'Malley says:


    The larger point here is why should Tim Dolan be hosting candidates for Caesar’s successor? Port and cigars and guffaws on the dime of the faithful?

    The mission of the Church is to save souls. Peter and Paul were executed by Caesar. Tim Dolan fêtes Caesar.

    Do you not understand the moral dichotomy here? Especially when in a post-Christian, i.e. post-Catholic secularist world, Caesar is again the epitome of evil.

    Stephen’s comment was spot on despite its skewering ad hominem (unjustifiably “edited” by BCI) and its graphic imagery. BCI should read Cicero and the rhetorical efficacy of the attribution of perverted ideas to the moral perversion of their possessor. In other words, the ad hominem attack. It is the most virtuous of the attacks on vice.

  10. Stephen says:

    Lets all hold hands and dialogue, OK?.
    I am not powerful enough to make BCI into anything.

    “You clearly can’t process that a person who is staunchly pro-life could understand the necessity of having both presidential candidates at a political dinner.”

    I can process it. In fact I did process it.
    I find it to be nauseating clericalism and duplicity.
    Necessity? NECESSITY!?

    I find it inconceivable that a man who voted against a ban on partial birth abortion and first move as president was to overturn The Mexico city accord would have a place at ANY Catholic event.

    It is a mockery.

    It is thoroughly understandable that you would not recognize strong masculine Catholic language in Fem-town or take it as a lack of charity rather than guidance.

    So put that in your “Staunch” pipe and smoke it.

    Catholic collegiality suggests that if Benedict XVI would not have Obama as a guest at a catholic comedy fundraiser then an American Bishop should not. Further: As leader of USCCB this is a critical and poignant example of one shortcoming of V2, and that reform is needed. The Cheese head and you actually think it is OK. You are wrong. Our Faith is trans-cultural and trans-historical, Herod’d dead babies and Obama’s are the SAME ONES – get it? The guy advocates publicly the killing of the Holy Innocents, and you want to serve him Filet Mignon, can’t think indeed.

    May all our vessels be filled with roses this evening.

    BCI can discard my comments anytime they like. I am grateful BCI is here.

  11. Paul Koenen says:

    Thanks Carolyn for your defense of Cardinal Dolan’s decision. I support the Cardinal as well in this decision, and I believe that his statement as to what he is doing is solidly in line with Catholic teaching. Cardinal Dolan has done more than any bishop I know to condemn the great sin of abortion and to protest the HHS mandate. I see absolutely no reason to believe that Carolyn and Cardinal Dolan are any less Catholic than Stephen or Jack O’Malley (as Stephen or Jack seem to imply).

    If you want to mock the Prince of the Church, Cardinal Dolan, and the courageous Carolyn I would consider it an honor to be mocked along with them as they fight the battle against the culture of death with profound love and respect toward all human life.

  12. Stephen, BCI is offline and cannot remove your comment. You continue to lob personal insults and attacks at other readers. We will have no choice but to moderate your comments going forward.

  13. Stephen says:

    I will try to be more temperate.
    Cardinal Dolan’s photograph of him wearing a foam piece of cheese is part of Catholic life in America and has been widely published.

    Paul clearly implied I (and Jack) are claiming higher moral ground based on our personal thoughts. If there is any higher moral ground to be found it is found in church teaching. Period. You’ll have to trust me, I know Paul Koenen and his statements are meant as personal attacks on me. As odd as it sounds his response was prompted by Michael and Lynn’s response.
    (I have had a real life friendship with Paul and I don’t think it appropriate to air in in cyberspace)

  14. Mike Bizzaro says:

    You’re not seeing clearly, at all … the “Archdiocese of Boston” … has absolutely *nothing* to do with the Catholic Church of the Catholic God.

    Satan’s pro-abortion vatican-2 heretic cult … was founded in 1965 at the Vatican … this cult heretic cult is in … 100% complete control of our formerly Catholic properties around the world.

    The sixteen “vatican-2 council” documents have well over 200 heresies against prior defined Catholic Dogma … making it crystal clear that a non-Catholic sect was founded at the vatican-2 at Satan’s “council” of apostasy.

    The vatican-2 heretic cult cannot possibly be the Catholic Church … since it enforces the opposite, the opposite, and the opposite of the Catholic Dogma.

    PROOF > Sections 12 and 13 of >

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