Timothy Cardinal Dolan enters the 'No Spin Zone'

The Catholic leader on whether or not President Obama is losing support among followers


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 28, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: "Personal Story Segment" tonight, a "Factor Exclusive": an interview with the most powerful Catholic cleric in America Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York. As you may know Catholic voters supported President Obama last time around -- 54 percent to 45 percent. But this year it may be a different story that's because the President is demanding that Catholic non-profit concerns cover birth control in their health insurance plans.

The church bitterly opposes that and litigation -- litigation is in the air. And there is no question the relationship between President Obama and the Catholic Church is strained. Cardinal Dolan met with the President last November and it did not go well.


DOLAN: I don't want to act like I'm judging the President. I don't know. There are those who tell me that I was misled. There are those who tell me that you simply misunderstood.

O'REILLY: Now they haven't backed off and you have a number of options that you can challenge. However, the church basically is in a position now of promoting an unpopular concept, the ban of contraception.

DOLAN: You're right on target. It's a tough battle because of that and our opponents are very shrewd because they've chosen an issue that they know we don't -- we're not very popular on. And that is why, Bill, we have to be -- we have to be very vigorous in insisting that this is not about contraception. It's about religion freedom.

And I don't want to judge people but I think there would be a drift in the administration that this is a good issue and if we can divide the Catholic community because it's already divided and if one can caricature the bishops as being hopelessly out of touch these bullies who are trying to achieve judicially and legislatively what they've been -- been unable to achieve because their moral integrity has been compromised recently there is that force out there trying to caricature us.

All right. But we can't back down from this fight because it's about religious freedom; it's close to the very heart of what the -- of what the democratic enterprise that we know and love as the United States of America is all about.

O'REILLY: Does the Catholic Church want to be a player in the American politics?

DOLAN: Yes. Well, the Catholic Church wants its people to be a player in the American politics, all right. 28 percent of the population of the United States are Catholics, ok and the Catholic Church through them, you bet, wants to have -- want to have a say in the direction of our beloved country.

To think that there is a Berlin Wall between one's religious convictions and one's political activity is crazy, it's ludicrous. It's not only non-Catholic, non-Christian, non-biblical, it is also un-American. Because -- you're a better historian than I am Bill, you know that every great movement in -- in American history has been driven by people of religious conviction.

And if we duct tape the churches -- I'm just not talking about the Catholic Church -- if we duct tape the role of religion and the churches and morally convince people in the marketplace that's going to lead to a huge deficit a huge void. And there are many people who want to fill it up, namely a new religion called secularism, ok, which -- which would be as doctrinaire and would consider itself as infallible as they caricature the other religions doing.

So to -- to see -- to see that morally-driven religiously-convinced people want to exercise their political responsibility, I think that is not only at the heart of biblical religion, it is at the heart of American enterprise.

O'REILLY: I want -- I want to get into one more thing before I let you go. You said the religion of secularism. All right. So it's basically the Catholic Church and other faith-based people, other religions against the American media and entertainment industry. That's how I see, all right the American press very secular, would you agree?


O'REILLY: Ok and the entertainment industry pounding secularism all day long.


O'REILLY: So you find yourself on the defensive.


O'REILLY: All right, just as you are in the -- in now in the intrusion by the Obama administration into how you operate your faith.

DOLAN: Yes. Prior to that, Bill, there was a remarkable unanimity among Catholics saying this is time for the church to stand up, this is an unwarranted, radical, unprecedented intrusion in the life of the church and we can't go there as Americans.

O'REILLY: Do you think they might be united then.

DOLAN: That could be uniting. Now that is -- that's been fractured a bit since February 10 because there some who say ok now the administration has seen our point and we can back off. We Bishops don't think we can. But I'm wondering if this is the issue that will bring us together.

O'REILLY: Maybe. Would you say to American Catholics don't vote for President Obama based upon this intrusion? Would you say that?

DOLAN: I wouldn't say that -- I would never myself say don't vote against or don't vote for a particular candidate. For one it's counterproductive. I would probably be doing the opponent a big favor if I would. Because even our -- even -- even very faithful Catholics, Bill, don't like their bishops or priests telling them how to vote, a person or even on a particular issue. They like to us to speak about principle, they like us to get clear and cogent and compelling. They don't like us to get very personal. So I wouldn't -- I wouldn't say that, no.


O'REILLY: And you can hear my full interview with Cardinal Dolan on his radio program which airs tomorrow on the Sirius Satellite Network at noon.

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