Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn joined to deliver a Sept. 24 blog post that was critical of New York City’s provision of “emergency contraception” to public school students as young as 14, and also issued a joint statement on behalf of the poor on the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, Sept. 27.
In the blog post, titled “Tragic and Misguided,” the prelates wrote, “The public schools of the City of New York have announced that they are providing so-called ‘emergency contraception’ and long-term contraceptive injections to high school students as young as 14 years old. This policy of dispensing of powerful medicines to young women—without their parents’ knowledge and consent—is tragic and misguided.
“Parents have the right and the responsibility to be the first and primary educators of their children. This plan usurps that role, and allows the public school system to substitute its beliefs and values for those of the parents. It also places minors at risk, because no school system can be expected to know all the pertinent health information about their son or daughter, and be able to properly judge what is in their best interests…
“It has been shown by years of experience that contraceptives are not the solution to the problem of teen sexual activity. Studies show that increased availability of contraception fails to reduce rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion…
“Abstinence before marriage is the only sure way to avoid pregnancy and disease, while also allowing minors to practice virtue and responsibility. The public schools would be better advised to promote what truly works rather than continuing to follow a failed experiment that will only lead to further problems for society and for young people.”
In their statement on the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, Cardinal Dolan and Bishop DiMarzio said, “Many people, including those who don’t know that much about this great saint from the 17th century, know of the work of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which is active in so many parishes and dioceses around the world bringing direct help to people in need.
“Recent statistics sadly remind that today the poor do need a champion. Michael Powell, writing earlier this week in the New York Times ‘Gotham’ blog, notes that while economic conditions have started to improve for some, there are still a shocking number of other people for whom poverty persists, if not worsens, and a recovery is nowhere in sight. The statistics are overwhelming. For instance, Powell notes that both the Bronx and Brooklyn have unemployment rates above 13 percent, and, he adds, ‘Fully 21 percent [of New Yorkers] live below the poverty line; median income declined in nearly every group; 1.8 million New Yorkers now rely on food stamps.’
“Government programs provide enormous support to poor Americans. In addition generous Americans contribute billions to charities each year. And so there is much to be grateful for.
“However, two things must be said.
1) It is not enough. Even with the generosity of the American people, and the work of groups like the St. Vincent de Paul Society and so many others, much more needs to be done, and not just by private charity. The government must continue to play its part as well.
2) There are very dark clouds. Too much rhetoric in the country portrays poor people in a very negative way. At the same time, this persistent sluggish economic and slow pace of recovery does two things that hurt the poor: it does not provide sufficient jobs for poor people to earn decent living to support themselves, and it provides less resources for government to do its part for Americans in need.
“This is creating a situation that is devastating to struggling families throughout the country.
“As the Church celebrates the feast of St. Vincent DePaul, we affirm that the poor must receive our special attention to ensure that they have basic necessities of life… [T]he commitment of the Church to the poor comes directly from Jesus and was first formally recognized by the appointment of deacons to cares for the Greek speaking widows. Throughout the history of the Church there has always been a preferential option for the poor.”
The full text of the prelates’ comments can be found on Cardinal Dolan’s blog, “The Gospel in the Digital Age,” at archny.org.