That's Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, in James Taranto's "Weekend Interview" in The Wall Street Journal entitled "When the Archbishop Met the President." You can read the entire article here (unless it gets hidden behind the Journals paywall).
In the interview Cardinal Dolan speaks of his conversations initiated by President Obama regarding the Department of Health and Human Service's new mandate that all forms of birth control be covered by medical insurance plans, including the plans of those for whom some (or all) forms of contraception are morally repugnant.
Mr. Obama knew that the mandate would pose difficulties for the Catholic Church, so he invited Archbishop Dolan to the Oval Office last November, shortly before the bishops' General Assembly in Baltimore. At the end of their 45-minute discussion, the archbishop summed up what he understood as the president's message:Cardinal Dolan has more to say about controversy that has ensued, both within the Catholic Church and the nation in general, particularly regarding what appropriate and proper "ministry" of the Church is in our land.
"I said, 'I've heard you say, first of all, that you have immense regard for the work of the Catholic Church in the United States in health care, education and charity. . . . I have heard you say that you are not going to let the administration do anything to impede that work and . . . that you take the protection of the rights of conscience with the utmost seriousness. . . . Does that accurately sum up our conversation?' [Mr. Obama] said, 'You bet it does.'"
The archbishop asked for permission to relay the message to the other bishops. "You don't have my permission, you've got my request," the president replied.
"So you can imagine the chagrin," Archbishop Dolan continues, "when he called me at the end of January to say that the mandates remain in place and that there would be no substantive change, and that the only thing that he could offer me was that we would have until August. . . . I said, 'Mr. President, I appreciate the call. Are you saying now that we have until August to introduce to you continual concerns that might trigger a substantive mitigation in these mandates?' He said, 'No, the mandates remain. We're more or less giving you this time to find out how you're going to be able to comply.' I said, 'Well, sir, we don't need the [extra time]. I can tell you now we're unable to comply.'"
The archbishop sees a parallel irony in his dispute with Mr. Obama: "This is a strange turn of the table, that here a Catholic cardinal is defending religious freedom, the great proposition of the American republic, and the president of the United States seems to be saying that this is a less-than-important issue."Strange indeed. Alas, that is also the current state of the Republic. Again, read the interview here -- it's really important.
Tip o' the hat to James Kushiner at Touchstone's "Mere Comments."