The top Catholic bishop in the U.S. has vowed legislative and court challenges to President Barack Obama's compromise on exempting religiously affiliated employers from paying directly for birth control for their workers.

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, who heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in an interview Tuesday that while Obama's about-face Friday initially sparked glimmers of hope in the church, it ended up being a "hill of beans."

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Dolan, who is in Rome to be made a cardinal Saturday, said he trusted Obama wasn't declaring war on religion and intended to make good on his pledge to work with religious groups to fine-tune the provisions of the insurance mandate.

But Dolan said "it's getting harder and harder" to believe Obama's claim to prioritize religious freedom issues.

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