National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Obama meets quietly with head of U.S. bishops

 | 
CNS photo

President Obama met with New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan without fanfare Nov. 8, the White House has confirmed.

Dolan is the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The men discussed a range of issues related to the often complicated and recently fractious relationship between the administration and the U.S. church hierarchy. A spokesperson for the USCCB declined to confirm or deny the meeting.

The meeting came in advance of next week’s plenary meeting of the USCCB in Baltimore at which the bishops will discuss their new ad hoc committee on religious liberty. It was sandwiched between two of Obama’s foreign trips, to France for the G-20 summit and to Asia.

According to a White House official who spoke with NCR on background, the meeting was part of the Obama administration’s work with faith leaders from across the spectrum, and was one among many meetings with officials from the Catholic Church and the administration.

The official also noted that the Obama administration has robust partnerships with organizations such as Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA to serve individuals and families in need across the country and the world. The official said that the administration looks forward to continuing these critical partnerships in the future.

email-graphic.jpgThe latest news... right to your inbox. Sign up for NCR email alerts.

The meeting between the president and Dolan comes against the backdrop of continued news stories about friction between the administration and the bishops. In today's Washington Post, Jerry Markon reports on congressional Republicans inquiring into the decision by the Department of Health and Human Services not to renew a contract with the USCCB for a program assisting the victims of human trafficking. Another article in the Post, by Religion News Service’s David Gibson, highlights that tension between the White House and the USCCB.

On the other hand, in NCR’s John Allen’s just published book, A People of Hope: Archbishop Timothy Dolan in Conversation with John Allen, Jr., based on a series of interviews with Archbishop Dolan, the prelate had kind words for the president. “I’ve been impressed with Obama’s sincerity,” Dolan says in the book. “On the day of the vote on health care, which was a tough day for us, I was talking to Patrick Gaspard [Director of the Office of Political Affairs in the White House].

He said that some of the things Congressman Bart Stupak had said about a group of women religious who came out in favor of the legislation were very uncivil. I said, ‘Patrick, there’s been a lack of civility on both sides. Have you read Maureen Dowd this morning? For anybody you can bring up on the pro-life side who’s been uncivil, I can match it.’ He said, ‘Point well taken.’ I then remarked, ‘Having said that, I think the man you work for, the president, has been a model of civility.’ I do admire that.”

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

 

Feature-flag_GSR2.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

April 11-24, 2014

04-11-2014.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.