Last edited: November 09, 2003

Conference President Criticizes Supreme Court Decision

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, June 27, 2003
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194

WASHINGTON—Belleville Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement about the moral ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision, Lawrence vs. Texas, striking down that state’s sodomy law:

“In its decision, Lawrence vs. Texas, the Supreme Court has chosen to view homosexual behavior between consenting adults as a matter of privacy.

“However, human sexuality cannot be viewed this way. Sexual activity has profound social consequences which are not limited to those immediately engaged in sexual acts. For this reason, the larger society has always shown a concern about what is and is not acceptable in sexual behavior between individuals. The very fact that this case came before the Supreme Court is evidence of that concern.

“The Catholic Church teaches, in agreement with other faith traditions and with what were once the norms generally accepted by society, that sexual activity belongs to the marital relationship between one man and one woman in fidelity to each other. This relationship is the basis of the family which is the basic unit of society. Respect for the purpose of human sexuality and the family needs to be reaffirmed in our society; and anything which reduces respect for them—such as yesterday’s Supreme Court decision—is to be deplored.”

In an accompanying statement, Mark Chopko, General Counsel for the United States Catholic Conference, pointed out the legal limits of the decision:

“This case was decided on the narrowest grounds. Justice Kennedy took pains to insulate this case from broader conclusions. He points to laws against prostitution and rape to show that not every sexual act between adults is outside the reach of legislatures. He is equally careful to note that this case does not involve the question whether the government must formally recognize homosexual relationships.”

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