It’s been a rough few months for relations between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church. The contraceptive mandate has taken already strained relations to new depths, as Catholic leaders have openly lamented the government’s demand that they violate conscience to fall in line with new health care regulations. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto, Cardinal Timothy Dolan held little back.

Cardinal Dolan Calls Obamas Attempt to Define Ministry: Radical, Unprecedented & Dramatically Intrusive

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Dolan, who met with Obama back in Nov. 2011, claims that the president promised to respect the Catholic Church’s right to conscience. Following this conversation, the archbishop of New York claims that he and other leaders were dumbfounded to find out that the mandate would still stand.

(Related: ‘Religious Freedom Violations’: These Are the Obama Admin‘s Contraceptive Mandate ’Concessions’)

“So you can imagine the chagrin when he called me at the end of January to say that the mandates remain in place and that there would be no substantive change, and that the only thing that he could offer me was that we would have until August,” Dolan explained. “I said, ‘Mr. President, I appreciate the call. Are you saying now that we have until August to introduce to you continual concerns that might trigger a substantive mitigation in these mandates?’ He said, ‘No, the mandates remain. We’re more or less giving you this time to find out how you’re going to be able to comply.’”

Dolan says he was quick to tell Obama that the Catholic Church would not need any extra time, as it would be “unable to comply” at any time due to religious limitations. Overall, Dolan dubs the mandate as “morally toxic.”

Cardinal Dolan Calls Obamas Attempt to Define Ministry: Radical, Unprecedented & Dramatically Intrusive

“We find it completely unswallowable, both as Catholics and mostly as Americans, that a bureau of the American government would take it upon itself to define ‘ministry,’” he continued. “We would find that to be — we’ve used the words ‘radical,’ ‘unprecedented’ and ‘dramatically intrusive.’”

As for the argument that many, like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have offered — that many Catholics don’t observe official teachings on social issues — Dolan weighed in with honesty on the matter. When asked if the Church has a problem conveying its moral principles to its adherents, the cardinal admitted, with a laugh, “Do we ever!”

“I’m not afraid to admit that we have an internal catechetical challenge—a towering one—in convincing our own people of the moral beauty and coherence of what we teach. That’s a biggie,” he said. ”[Catholic leaders] have gotten gun-shy…in speaking with any amount of cogency on chastity and sexual morality.”

You can read more here from the WSJ’s interview with Dolan.

(H/T: The Gateway Pundit)