WASHINGTON (June 23, 1997) -- The U.S. Catholic Conference applauded the June 23 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow public school teachers to provide remedial education to needy children in religiously affiliated schools, including Catholic schools.
"I commend the Court for the result it reached in Agostini," said Mark Chopko, General Counsel for the U.S. Bishops.
"It has signaled its willingness to rely more on the actual record and less on presumptions," Chopko said. "It has therefore strengthened the nature of relationships between religion and government by refusing, in the Court's words, to 'exalt form over substance.' The Court has replaced its look for a 'symbolic union' between Church and State, with a reasoned examination of whether the actions of government inculcate religion. On this conclusion, there should be no quarrel."
"I hope that this action signals the Court's willingness to do justice -- to the children most in need of help and to those in religious institutions ready to cooperate with government in those efforts. We will make every effort to work for that result," Chopko said also.
There are over 2.6 million children, both Catholic and non-Catholic, enrolled in Catholic schools in the United States. The last Department of Education figures estimated about 255,000 students in Catholic schools are eligible for Title I services; other researchers place the figure at over 300,000.