Newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Hark the herald angels: How sacred music evangelizes, lifts up hearts
Msgr. Vincenzo De Gregorio, director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, is pictured at an organ at the institute in Rome Dec. 6. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)   VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- 'Tis t...

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Witnesses recall New Year’s Eve cathedral blaze of 60 years ago
Written by Jack Sheedy
Left, people gather to watch firefighters attack the blaze as it rages near the towers of the cathedral. The roof eventually collapsed after being completely involved in flames. At right, firefighters...

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Museum featuring crèches of Germany
Written by Mary Chalupsky
German Nativity scene by Egon Wolfsgruber is placed inside a barrel with polychrome wood figurines. (Photo courtesy of the Knights of Columbus Museum)  NEW HAVEN – With its ancestral heritage, c...

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Pope Francis meets Martin Scorsese, director of 'Silence,' at Vatican
VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) – On Wednesday, Pope Francis added world famous director Martin Scorsese to the list of Hollywood stars he has welcomed for a private meeting in the Vatican, following a...

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Theater review: ‘The Front Page’
John Slattery and Nathan Lane in “The Front Page” (Photo by Julieta Cervantes)NEW YORK – Because of Nathan Lane’s presence in the cast,  the revival of “The Front Page” has attracted attention an...

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Sacred music: a St. Mary tradition
Written by Mary Chalupsky
Nicholas Renouf, director of music at St. Mary Church in New Haven or four decades, accompanies the Schola Cantorum during a noon Sunday Mass at St. Mary recently. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky) NEW HAVEN...

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Retirement Fund for Religious helps when communities can’t
Written by Administrator
Campaign photo for the 2016 Retirement Fund for Religious collection, which will take place Dec. 10-11 in most parishes. (Photo by Jim Judkis) WASHINGTON – The annual Retirement Fund for Religious ...

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Hark the herald angels: How sacred music evangelizes, lifts up hearts
Hark the herald angels: How sacred music evangelizes, lifts up hearts
Witnesses recall New Year’s Eve cathedral blaze of 60 years ago
Witnesses recall New Year’s Eve cathedral blaze of 60 years ago
Museum featuring crèches of Germany
Museum featuring crèches of Germany
Pope Francis meets Martin Scorsese, director of 'Silence,' at Vatican
Pope Francis meets Martin Scorsese, director of 'Silence,' at Vatican
Theater review: ‘The Front Page’
Theater review: ‘The Front Page’
Sacred music: a St. Mary tradition
Sacred music: a St. Mary tradition
Retirement Fund for Religious helps when communities can’t
Retirement Fund for Religious helps when communities can’t

Latest Commentary

ARCHBISHOP

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, I wish all of you a holy Advent and a Christmas...

LOCAL

HARTFORD – Reverend Ivan Dario Ramirez and Reverend Israel Rivera have been incardinated in the Archdiocese of Hartford by Archbishop...

WORLD

Women religious gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 23, the day the high court heard oral arguments...

ARTS

Gabrielle Union and Colman Domingo star in a scene from the movie "The Birth of a Nation." (CNS photo/Fox) NEW...

FROM OUR READERS

ENFIELD – John Berube, president of the parish council of St. Bernard Parish, thanks Father John P. Melnick, pastor, for...

YOUTH

BRANFORD – More than 300 people attended the 10th annual Archbishop’s Columbus Day Breakfast, held at the WoodWinds this year...

20120305cnsbr09161_webWASHINGTON (CNS) – In a strongly worded letter to his fellow bishops, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York charged that White House officials failed to consider the U.S. bishops' concerns that the federal mandate governing employer coverage of contraception and sterilization under the health care law violated religious freedom principles.

An invitation from the White House to "work out the wrinkles" regarding the mandate either by rescinding it or at least widening the exemptions on religious grounds failed to reach an agreement and the effort "seems to be stalled," he said in the letter released late March 2.

The letter cited recent comments by a White House official that the mandates are a "fait accompli" and that Congress was notified that the rules have been published in the Federal Register "without change."

Cardinal Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, also said that during a recent meeting with White House officials, USCCB staff members "asked directly whether the broader concerns of religious freedom ... are all off the table."

"They (USCCB staff) were informed they are," he wrote.

"Instead they advised the bishops' conference that we listen to the 'enlightened' voices of accommodation," pointing to a recent editorial in America magazine, the cardinal said.

The editorial in the magazine's March 5 issue questioned whether the bishops' opposition to the revised mandate released by the administration Feb. 10 was an issue of disagreement over government policy as opposed to an infringement of religious liberty.

"The White House seems to think we bishops simply do not know or understand Catholic teaching and so, taking a cue from its own definition of religious freedom, now has nominated its own handpicked official Catholic teachers," the letter continued.

Despite the setback, Cardinal Dolan promised that the USCCB would not back down in its drive to overturn the mandates because of its overriding concern for religious freedom.

President Obama's revision said religious employers could decline to cover contraceptives if they were morally opposed to them, but the health insurers that provide their health plans would be required to offer contraceptives free of charge to women who requested such coverage. Questions remain as to how it relates to religious employers who are self-insured.

In his letter, the cardinal reiterated that the bishops' conference will "continue to accept invitations to meet with and to voice our concerns to anyone of any party, for this is hardly partisan, who is willing to correct the infringements on religious freedom that we are now under."

"But as we do so, we cannot rely on off-the-record promises of fixes without deadlines and without assurances of proposals that will concretely address the concerns in a manner that does not conflict with our principles and teaching," he added.

Cardinal Dolan also expressed hope that Congress may be more willing to address religious freedom concerns legislatively.

"Our commitment to seeking legislative remedies remains strong. And it is about remedies to the assault on religious freedom. Period," Cardinal Dolan said.

The letter outlined planned actions to spread the word about the mandates to parishes. It said advocacy and education efforts will expand and that catechetical resources on the significance of religious freedom to the church and the church's teaching on it from doctrinal and moral perspectives are being developed.

Liturgical aids to encourage prayer on challenges to religious freedom also are on tap, the letter said.

"Given this climate we have to prepare for tough times," Cardinal Dolan wrote.

"Brothers, we know so very well that religious freedom is our heritage, our legacy and our firm belief, both as loyal Catholics and Americans," he continued. "There have been many threats to religious freedom over the decades and years, but these often came from without. This one sadly comes from within.

"As our ancestors did with previous threats, we will tirelessly defend the timeless and enduring truth of religious freedom," he said.