The nation's Roman Catholic bishops are expressing grave doubts about President Barack Obama's revamped health care rule on birth control. They say it raises serious moral concerns and lacks clear protections for certain employers, insurers and individuals.

In a statement issued Friday evening, the United States Conference of Bishops said Obama's proposal "continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions."

The statement came hours after Obama announced he was backing off a new requirement for religious employers to provide free birth control coverage, even if it runs counter to their religious beliefs. Instead, employees of those institutions will be able to get free contraception directly from health insurance companies.

Other groups who had objected to the administration's original rule supported Obama's change Friday.