WILMETTE, Ill. (CBS) – Francis Cardinal George is back from Italy and talking about something he’s very concerned about: President Obama’s mandate for employers to cover health care costs, including birth control.

It was the first thing he addressed with the media after returning from Rome this week.

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“We want the mandate, as it’s presently given in the regs, rescinded,” George told reporters at Loyola Academy in Wilmette.

George says the president’s executive order requiring free birth control in the health plans of faith-based employers should be reversed.

“We’ll see if they’re willing to do that. I imagine that there will probably be, as many things are taken to courts in this country to be settled, a court case somewhere down the line,” the cardinal said.

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The White House revised the plan to accommodate religious groups. Women would still get free contraception coverage. Religious organizations that object to coverage, though, won’t have to offer or pay for it. The cost will be passed on directly to an employee’s insurance company.

George is not satisfied.

“Well, the long-term effect, first of all, is that the Catholic church would be stripped of the institutions that are her instrument for public service.  We will lose hospitals. We will lose universities. We will lose our institutions,” he said.

George says the First Amendment is in clear violation here, by not allowing the most fundamental freedom of religious liberty.

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The cardinal had been in Rome with bishops from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin to meet with the Pope and pray at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul.

Suzanne Le Mignot