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NYC mayor rejects Catholic condom-nation

/ Source: The Associated Press

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday defended the city’s free condom program as a “real world” tactic to fight HIV and AIDS.

Catholic leaders publicly chastised city officials for the program Thursday, saying it was immoral. They charged City Hall with failing to protect “the moral tone” of the community by encouraging “inappropriate sexual activity.”

On his weekly radio show, Bloomberg says it’s not an issue of faith, but rather a health issue for the city. The mayor said Catholic leaders can communicate what they feel is proper behavior to their followers, but the city is trying to find ways to reduce the rate of sexually transmitted diseases.

In a Valentine’s Day launch, New York unveiled its official condom in a subway-themed wrapper, with volunteers handing them out across the city.

The plan, the Catholic leaders said Thursday, “is tragic and misguided,” adding that the only way to protect against sexually transmitted diseases is through abstinence before marriage and fidelity among married couples.

“Our political leaders fail to protect the moral tone of our community when they encourage inappropriate sexual activity by blanketing our neighborhoods with condoms,” said Cardinal Edward Egan, head of the Archdiocese of New York, and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn in a joint statement.

Egan and DiMarzio said the $720,000 cost of the program “would be far better spent in fostering what is true and what is decent.”