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Obama Supports ‘Robust' Protection for Catholic Health-Care Workers

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"That's the kind of statement from the White House that gratifies and reassures us," said Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, which represents 1,600 Catholic hospitals and other health-care institutions.

Some conservative critics, however, dismissed the comments.

"Robust sounds good, but what does it mean?" said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which supports the Bush protections. "Without them, it is meaningless."

Obama also addressed his administration's Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which has been negotiating between players on both sides of the abortion debate, seeking to find areas on which they can agree. However, the groups have clashed over the administration's desire to include funding for comprehensive sex education and contraception in any legislative package.

Yesterday, Obama said he recognized that this would contradict Catholic Church doctrine, "so I would not expect someone who feels very strongly about this issue as a matter of religious faith to be able to agree with me on that, but that's my personal view. We may not be able to arrive at perfectly compatible language on that front."

On a personal matter, the president said he has not chosen a home church in the Washington area -- and might not choose one particular congregation.

He said he and his family will attend chapel services at Camp David when they are at the presidential retreat in Maryland -- which he calls a "wonderful little congregation."

"How we handle church when we're here in D.C. is something that we're still figuring out," he said. "And I think that in the second half of the year, we will have made a decision."

Mindful of the disruption that his presence causes at a church, the Obama family might rotate among churches.

"Obviously, that takes away somewhat from the church experience of being part of a community and participating in the life of the church," he said. But "we are resigned now to the fact that we change the atmospherics wherever we go, and it may be more sensible for us to get in and out on any given Sunday and not try to create blockades around places where we attend."

Staff writer Rob Stein contributed to this report.


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