The top Catholic bishop in the U.S. is promising to fight the White House's decision on birth control coverage through legislative means and court challenges.
Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, who heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said "choking mandates" remain, even after President Obama's compromise on the issue.
"I want to take him at his word," Dolan said during an interview with The Associated Press in Rome, where he will be made a cardinal Saturday.
"I do have to say it's getting harder and harder to believe Obama's claim to prioritize religious freedom issues given the latest controversy," he added.
The White House now exempts religious institutions from directly paying for contraceptives for their workers. Instead, it wants insurance companies to pick up the tab.
"Was what was intended to be a concession and what gave us a glimmer of hope at the beginning really just amount to a hill of beans? And it seems as if it does," he concluded.
Dolan said U.S. bishops will now work hard to support passage of new legislation.
"I couldn't see why the president would have any consternation because he said to me that religious freedom remains sacrosanct. Well, let's legislatively guarantee it," he said.
On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI will make Dolan and 20 other bishops cardinals.