February 22, 2007
Responding to Catholic Church leaders' criticism that a New York City condom program is immoral, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the initiative is simply a "real world" tactic for reducing rates of HIV and other STDs. "This is not an issue of faith, this is a health issue for the city," Bloomberg said.
The city unveiled its official condom on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14. Health officials are hoping the distinctive design, complete with a subway theme and the words "NYC Condom" on the wrapper, will help them track usage during their annual community health survey. New York City has run a free condom program for years, distributing around 1.5 million condoms every month. Survey respondents will be asked whether they used condoms and, if so, what the wrapper looked like. Their responses will help gauge the effectiveness of the distribution.
Cardinal Edward Egan, head of the Archdiocese of New York, and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn issued a statement saying city leaders "fail to protect the moral tone of our community when they encourage inappropriate sexual activity by blanketing our neighborhoods with condoms."
"The taxpayer money that is spent to distribute condoms and promote the attitude that anything goes would be far better spent in fostering what is true and what is decent," said Egan and DiMarzio, who together serve more than 4 million Catholics.
Bloomberg responded that Egan and DiMarzio "should preach to their congregants what they think are the appropriate ways to live your lives, but the health department has to work with the real world of people not practicing protected sex, not practicing abstinence, and this is a way to keep people alive."