Catholic Charities denies endorsement of Obama administration's contraceptive coverage policy

A leading Catholic charity group wants the public to know it has not endorsed the Obama administration's latest policy requiring free contraceptive coverage for employees, despite "mischaracterizations in the media."

Catholic Charities USA has occasionally been cited as a supporter of the new policy, after the administration announced last week it would no longer require religious organizations to directly offer contraceptive coverage to workers. That's almost certainly because the White House listed the group on an official blog that cited "praise from a wide range of individuals and organizations" for the policy change.

Along with statements from Planned Parenthood and other supporters was a brief statement from Catholic Charities. The group said at the time that it "welcomes the administration's attempt to meet the concerns of the religious community" and looks forward to reviewing the final language.

"We are hopeful that this is a step in the right direction," the group said.

But the organization has since posted a clarification on its website, after that statement was interpreted by some as an endorsement.

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"We have not endorsed the accommodation to the HHS mandate that was announced by the administration last Friday," the group said.

Rather, the group said it would "unequivocally share the goal" of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to "uphold religious liberty."

"Any representation to the contrary is false," Catholic Charities said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has voiced serious concerns with the new policy.

The policy change would let religious institutions decline to offer the coverage, but would require insurance companies to then offer that coverage directly to workers. Groups like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops want a broader exemption.

Conference head Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan said in an interview with The Association Press that U.S. bishops will work in support of legislation that would give any employer the ability to deny contraceptive coverage on religious or moral grounds.