AUSTIN -- President Obama took the podium Friday afternoon at the White House in order to try and sooth weeks' worth of friction between his administration and the Catholic Church.
Controversy erupted over a health care directive that would have required Catholic schools, hospitals, and institutions to provide birth control coverage to employees.
According to the president, Friday's compromise guarantees employees at those Catholic institutions will still be able to get contraceptive coverage, only insurance companies rather than the institutions themselves will provide the coverage.
"Let me repeat," President Obama told media Friday, "The employers will not have to pay for or provide contraceptive services, but women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services just like other women."
One of the first to speak against the original rule was Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Dolan issued a statement Friday in response to the president's proposal.
"While there may be an openness to respond to some of our concerns, we reserve judgment on the details until we have them. The past three weeks have witnessed a remarkable unity of Americans from all religions or none at all worried about the erosion of religious freedom and governmental intrusion into issues of faith and morals. "
"Today’s decision to revise how individuals obtain services that are morally objectionable to religious entities and people of faith is a first step in the right direction. We hope to work with the administration to guarantee that Americans' consciences and our religious freedom are not harmed by these regulations."
The proposal drew skeptical reactions at the University Catholic Center at the University of Texas.
"Honestly, I think it's a cop out," said Catholic student Samantha Kelley. "I don't think it's really addressing the issue at hand, because they're still allowing Catholic employees to get access to contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs."
"Even if it's not the Catholic institution paying for it, insurance doing the same thing, it's still an issue," said FOCUS Missionary Lauren Garcia.
Local Democratic activist and women's issues blogger Rachel Farris sees it differently.
"I think it's a great compromise," said Farris. "I mean, it's a victory for both women and religious institutions that were fighting against it. It's definitely not an attack on religious liberty like a lot of people are saying. It's really bolstering women's freedom."
Many on both sides agree it's a step forward, however, whether the step will be big enough remains to be seen.