Martin Bashir   |  May 22, 2012

Cardinal Dolan: Church may give up feeding poor over birth control mandate

Mother Jones’ David Corn, the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, and Democratic strategist Krystal Ball challenge New York’s Cardinal Dolan for sayings the Catholic Church may have to give up helping the poor if forced to accept the birth control mandate compromise.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now to the latest fight over women's health care and religious employers suing the obama administration over mandated birth control access. the nation's catholic bishops say it's an unprecedented affront to religious liberty and cardinal timothy dolan says the church may even have to limit services as a result.

>> if these mandates click in, we're going to find ourselves faced with a terribly difficult decision as to whether or not we can continue to operate. as part of our religion, it's part of our faith that we feed the hungry, that we educate the kids, that we take care of the sick. we'd have to give it up because we're unable to fit the description and the definition of a church given by, guess who? the federal government .

>> yes, you heard that right. they'll have to end all charity work rather than allow women access to birth control . and the cardinal went on to say this.

>> we don't want this fight. my lord, we just want to be left alone to do the work that we feel jesus asked us to do.

>> really? left alone ? you mean without that $2.9 billion a year from the federal government ? well, raps that could be arranged for you, sir. crystal ball , jonathan capehart, and david corn are all still with me. crystal, help me understand the cardinal's position here. he'd rather allow a noncatholic nurse at a catholic hospital to have access to birth control and if that were to happen, the church then walks away from all of its charitable works to the poor.

>> right.

>> how does that work?

>> so it sounds like basically he would rather make sure they can deny women access to birth control than continue their work with the poor, which is just an unbelievable position, and keep in mind, the president initially -- you know, the rule came out from hhs, from the department of health and human services , and there was a bit of a backlash. even in that initial firestorm 60% of the country backed the president and said wick should have access --

>> nevertheless the president created a promise. -- a compromise.

>> here is the compromise, you don't str to pay for birth control . you just have to offer it. you're not being forced to take birth control . you're not being forced to pay for birth control . you're just offering the option to women. what could be wrong with that? and the fact of the matter is if you look at -- remember the blunt amendment that was proposed in the senate that mitt romney was against and then he was for. that is what they want. if you are a religious person and you are an employer you can deny any element of the health care law --

>> for any moral reason .

>> for any reason. that's where they actually -- that's what they want. so there's no satisfying them on this issue, and clearly they've decided to use this threat as an attempt to essentially bully the president and the administration into getting their way.

>> but, john, where is compromise? the president has already compromised on this issue.

>> clearly they're not interested in compromise. they're interested in maintaining and safeguarding what they view as their beliefs, their teachings, and, you know, for a group of people who constantly, you know, talk about religious freedom , it's always their freedom to practice their religion as they see it, and anyone else who wants to practice their beliefs and their religion, well, sorry, you're out of luck. if you don't fit in our box, you know, we don't care.

>> your freedoms are not respected.

>> religious freedom apparently goes one way.

>> david, catholic charities as you know received $2.9 billion from the government in 2010 . that's about 62% of its annual revenue. so they don't seem to bristle at the hand of government when it comes to money, do they?

>> no. in fact, the u.s. catholic bishops council got more money under obama than it did during the bush years. so this war on religion has been very good for the catholic bishops at least in terms of federal largesse. it strikes me as just not very christian, if i can say so, to get out there and say we will not be providing services if you force us to do these things or if there's a mandate. i mean, because nevertheless, even if you are forced to do something that you don't want to do or you have a theological objection to, why would you then take that out on the poor? the government is not withholding these hundreds of millions of dollars, these billions of dollars, you will still end up with that money but you're not going to distribute it? i guess you have the choice of doing what people often say they want to do when you say you want to be left alone , to not accept any federal funds , go off and do everything on your own and see how that works out for you.

>> here is what's really horrible about the threat from the cardinal. it's not like we are in the riperip e -- richest of times. it's not like the people who are suffering today is a subset of a minority of the american population.

>> the poverty rates for this country are at their highest in 52 years.

>> and catholic charities has done a great job historically. let's be fair about this.

>> but the point i'm trying to make is this threat at a time when so many people are hurting is a really chilling threat, that you would have a cardinal say such a thing at a time when people are depending on him, depending on catholic charities generally speaking for assistance.

>> let's hope --

>> would jesus take his fish and a loaf and go home?

>> i don't think so. let's hope they don't either. we obviously acknowledge the work that the catholic church does and it's appreciated as all of you have said.

>> absolutely.

>> crystal, john, david, fantastic. thank