From .......... Associated Press

June 26, 1994

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Sex is held in "grand esteem" by the Roman Catholic Church and must not be trivialized, Pope John Paul II said Sunday.

In his discourse to the crowd in St. Peter's Square, the pope named contraception, homosexuality and "free love" as some of the behaviors that devalue sex.

The remarks were part of the pope's desire to amplify the Vatican's positions on morality and family-related issues before a U.N.-sponsored conference on population control in September.

The pope strongly opposes the meeting, which will include discussions of birth control methods and abortion. He has focused most of his recent Sunday addresses on issues such as the importance of stable marriages and the church's ban on birth control.

The pontiff noted Sunday that sex plays a profound role in the lives of humans. "The church has been blamed at times for making sex taboo. The truth is very much the opposite ... sexuality constitutes a language to express love," the pope said.