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My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage
The author backs same-sex marriage because of his faith, not in spite of it.
May 19th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage

Editor's Note: Mark Osler is a Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

By Mark Osler, Special to CNN

I am a Christian, and I am in favor of gay marriage. The reason I am for gay marriage is because of my faith.

What I see in the Bible’s accounts of Jesus and his followers is an insistence that we don’t have the moral authority to deny others the blessing of holy institutions like baptism, communion, and marriage. God, through the Holy Spirit, infuses those moments with life, and it is not ours to either give or deny to others.

A clear instruction on this comes from Simon Peter, the “rock” on whom the church is built. Peter is a captivating figure in the Christian story. Jesus plucks him out of a fishing boat to become a disciple, and time and again he represents us all in learning at the feet of Christ.

During their time together, Peter is often naïve and clueless – he is a follower, constantly learning.

After Jesus is crucified, though, a different Peter emerges, one who is forceful and bold. This is the Peter we see in the Acts of the Apostles, during a fevered debate over whether or not Gentiles should be baptized. Peter was harshly criticized for even eating a meal with those who were uncircumcised; that is, those who did not follow the commands of the Old Testament.

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Peter, though, is strong in confronting those who would deny the sacrament of baptism to the Gentiles, and argues for an acceptance of believers who do not follow the circumcision rules of Leviticus (which is also where we find a condemnation of homosexuality).

His challenge is stark and stunning: Before ordering that the Gentiles be baptized Peter asks “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

None of us, Peter says, has the moral authority to deny baptism to those who seek it, even if they do not follow the ancient laws. It is the flooding love of the Holy Spirit, which fell over that entire crowd, sinners and saints alike, that directs otherwise.

My Take: Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality

It is not our place, it seems, to sort out who should be denied a bond with God and the Holy Spirit of the kind that we find through baptism, communion, and marriage. The water will flow where it will.

Intriguingly, this rule will apply whether we see homosexuality as a sin or not. The water is for all of us. We see the same thing at the Last Supper, as Jesus gives the bread and wine to all who are there—even to Peter, who Jesus said would deny him, and to Judas, who would betray him.

The question before us now is not whether homosexuality is a sin, but whether being gay should be a bar to baptism or communion or marriage.

Your Take: Rethinking the Bible on homosexuality

The answer is in the Bible. Peter and Jesus offer a strikingly inclusive form of love and engagement. They hold out the symbols of Gods’ love to all. How arrogant that we think it is ours to parse out stingily!

I worship at St. Stephens, an Episcopal church in Edina, Minnesota. There is a river that flows around the back and side of that church with a delightful name: Minnehaha Creek. That is where we do baptisms.

The Rector stands in the creek in his robes, the cool water coursing by his feet, and takes an infant into his arms and baptizes her with that same cool water. The congregation sits on the grassy bank and watches, a gentle army.

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At the bottom of the creek, in exactly that spot, is a floor of smooth pebbles. The water rushing by has rubbed off the rough edges, bit by bit, day by day. The pebbles have been transformed by that water into something new.

I suppose that, as Peter put it, someone could try to withhold the waters of baptism there. They could try to stop the river, to keep the water from some of the stones, like a child in the gutter building a barrier against the stream.

It won’t last, though. I would say this to those who would withhold the water of baptism, the joy of worship, or the bonds of marriage: You are less strong than the water, which will flow around you, find its path, and gently erode each wall you try to erect.

The redeeming power of that creek, and of the Holy Spirit, is relentless, making us all into something better and new.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Osler.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Episcopal • Gay marriage • Opinion

soundoff (15,115 Responses)
  1. Crom

    WINNING!! I'm WINNING!!!

    Come on loser. You LOST. I WON. I proved that there is no god and christians are IDIOTS LOSERS that can't prove shtt.

    Creationism – debunked over and over! YOU LOSE. GAME OVER I WIN I WIN

    WINNER! I AM THE WINNER!!

    May 19, 2012 at 7:36 am |
  2. Jules

    Definition of wife:
    a dialect : woman
    b : a woman acting in a specified capacity —used in combination
    2
    : a female partner in a marriage

    May 19, 2012 at 7:29 am |
  3. martog

    Top Ten Signs You're a Christian
    10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
    9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
    8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
    7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
    6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
    5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
    4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
    3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
    2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
    1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.
    Which 'good christian' will be the first to call me names and say I'm hatefull just for speaking the obvious?

    May 19, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Get Real

      One sign you are not a Christian,

      You go through a ten step diatribe to disprove something you have no faith or belief in. Why try so hard?

      May 19, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • Crom

      If god existed I'd pray that each and every worthless piece of shtt christian would get cancer and die slow painful hideous deaths because they all deserve pain and suffering

      May 19, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • AKW

      This is just one big straw man fallacy. If you want your position to be taken seriously, try being portraying others' positions accurately.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • Get Real

      Crom...Seek Help Quick!

      May 19, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • martog

      Please refute WITH FACTS the inaccuracies in my post.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      1 sign you're a gay man . 1 you take it in the poo poo shute

      May 19, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • Joe Loven

      I will pray for you. Just curious though, why can't you put your name to your comments? Seems like all who say negative things about Christianity are not willing to put their name to it. Anonymous...lol

      May 19, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      @ crom along with gay men

      May 19, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • augustghost

      Well Said...and so very true

      May 19, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Pokydoke

      Masterly written and so true. Now you will be known as a hater because you revealed the truth about Evangelical Christians.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • martog

      Really not all that hard to cut and paste. AND, I'm sick of religious people trying to push/shove/force their religious beliefs onto everyone.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Get Real

      My question still stands. Why try so hard? If you don't believe or accept Christianity, why go through all the cut and paste? Why not just ignore the article and move on? What strikes such a deep nerve that you have to comment on something you have no belief in? Ignore the Christians and keep going is my suggestion. You won't hurt anyone's feelings.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • martog

      JEEZ..... Get Real....I DID answer your question!!!

      May 19, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • Concernedmod

      martog, your post in mostly accurate (in my humble opinion) but you can apply the same general ideas to most religions. Humans, by nature, want to believe in something bigger then themselves to deal with life. There is really nothing inherantly evil about that. The problem of abusing religion to control the masses, oppress groups of people or advance oneself economicaaly is where the problems lie.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • John

      10 – Yes, I do vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, it’s my right as a Christian.
      9 – Actually many Christians believe in evolution, but evolution is still a theory, but we teach it as fact in school .
      8 – you don’t get the trinity, and not going to explain it here.
      7 – God can do whatever wants, man can’t.
      6 – I have evidence of Jesus and his miracles, other religions don’t. Did you know there is a 2000 year old letter from Pontius Pilat to Caesar confirming much of his work.
      5 – Again… what are you talking about? Christians support science, but science tend to pass off theory as fact.
      4 – True, you will likely be in hell and that saddens me, so I try to convert people. Would you criticize me if was telling people to stop jumping off a cliff?
      3 – Sorry again, check Bernadette or any of the 100s of saints that defy science and have never or only partially decomposed. We also have statistically impossible rates of religious healing in Lourdes.
      2 – Not responding to UNSCIENTIFIC data!
      1 – I agree, Christians should spend more time knowing their theology, but saying an Atheist knows more is ridiculous

      May 19, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Blake

      Let me see, you want facts to put against your OPINIONS?? You have faith in nothing, except that you somehow believe that existence is to simply live to die??? Is this really all you live for?

      READ 1 CORINTHIANS 8- 5,6

      5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

      6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  4. Crom - name stolen again no thanks to CNN

    I see the name-stealer cannot stand losing to me again. Well, this name is done, on blog as it is in cyberspace.

    May 19, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Crom

      I see the LOSER is trying to keep his pride. Face it, you LOST. I am a WINNER. WINNING! I WIN!!

      May 19, 2012 at 7:38 am |
  5. edchicago

    “Sometimes our understanding of God’s law gets in our way of our understanding of God’s love.” This is a quote from one of the Bishops of the United Methodist Church. I apologize that I have forgotten which one.

    May 19, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  6. Crom

    I'd be staring at the christian parents, whizzer in hand going to town and just getting off on all of their tears. Oh yeah where is your god now you christian pieces of shtt?

    May 19, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Crom - name stolen again no thanks to CNN

      fake post

      May 19, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Crom

      Hey name stealer, get off my shtt! Can't stand being a loser I see! I WIN.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:34 am |
  7. Crom

    If I got to watch a school bus full of children roll over in front of their christian parents and burst into flames and roast I would probably jerk off right then and there.

    May 19, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • pervert alert

      No need the most you could ever be was a j erk off

      May 19, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      you're a sick man... :)
      it would be better if it were the parents. then you just tell the children that the parents died because their parents believed in god and not science.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • pervert alert

      No need the most you could ever be was a j erk off !

      May 19, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Crom

      Hell yeah. Even better is if I found a teddy bear from the accident on fire, I'd go quickly put the fire out and ask the parents, "hey which of your kids owned this?" and when the winning christian couple came forward I would bang the shtt out of that teddy bear right in front of them

      May 19, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Crom - name stolen again no thanks to CNN

      Lots of fake posts. Ta ta, little loser! I will watch your butthurt attempts from my laughing seat of WIN. LOL

      May 19, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • Crom

      Some jack-off name stealer is claiming to be me hahahaha I WIN looser, you can promptly get off my shtt now!

      May 19, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • Concernedmod

      You are a bigot. Bigots are a hazard to civilization.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • NotSoConcernedMod

      lol

      cnn doesn't moderate the blogs retard

      May 19, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • Peter

      you are sick,no matter what you believe in,you are a very sick man or woman

      May 19, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  8. Bill Fitzgerald

    If all were gay, we would have no children and and empty planet. Wow what joy in being gay. Dead end, zero joy.

    May 19, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      to think of it, the animal kingdom would be pretty happy if that happened.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • .

      IF we were all gay, Bed Bath & Beyond would sell a lot of stuff.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:35 am |
  9. Blake

    Gen. 2:18, 21-24

    The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'...and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh.
    Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man.' For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

    Enough said!!!!!

    May 19, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      THE LORD SAID.............. THE LORD SAID............. THE LORD SAID............THE LORD SAID...........THE LORD SAID..........THE LORD SAID.........THE LORD SAID.........THE LORD SAID.........THE LORD SAID.......THE LORD SAID......THE LORD SAID......THE LORD SAID...

      GET A LIFE

      May 19, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Joe Loven

      Amen.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      What's with the whole "stomp your foot down' antics with the whole ENOUGH SAID BS?

      Like saying Enough Said makes it true or something

      Sit down in the corner.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • Blake

      enough said!!! Completely makes this article worthless and a waste of time.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • jackusn

      Read the mythological tales told in genesis more carefully. There are two very different accounts of creation in that book.One of them has Adam and Eve being created simultaneously. And in the other when god is trying to get Adam a helpmate, he brings various animals to Adam but that doesn't suit Adam. So then he creates the woman. Hopefully, you know that the bible is a collection of myths,mostly fictional bloody history, rife with contradictions and a tribal war god yahweh that would make Stalin and Hitler blush. Especially where he tells his followers to kill every living person and animals in the cities they conquer. Is this a book you use as your moral compass. I hope not.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Blake

      You must be reading a different Bible than I am. Do and say whatever you want to justify not believing in God but realize that believing in God is a choice just as being gay is a choice. You have faith that there is nothing and I have faith in God and I realize that my life is to mean more than just living to die. How simple minded you Atheists are.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  10. Billy2j

    Mark Osler may be a Professor of Law, but he doesn't know jack about the scriptures.

    May 19, 2012 at 7:21 am |
  11. .

    gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay.

    We've got 25 million people who can't find a job.

    gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay.

    Go consummate yourselves.

    May 19, 2012 at 7:18 am |
  12. Get Real

    And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

    Signed, Jesus

    May 19, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • Crom

      Yeah, Jesus is on the internet. Sounds totally legit. Not.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Stephen614

      Amen...and again I say...Amen!

      May 19, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      Who's That Again?

      Who's this Jesus character?

      LOL

      May 19, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • .

      And the Lord said, go find another guy, get high in crystal meth and schmonk him up the google.

      Then take him shopping for linens.

      F
      a
      g
      s.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:37 am |
  13. The TRUTH

    Travolta framed as SCAPEGOAT by mormon temple again in collusion with the vatican! Scientology centers are all safehouses for gay men and are the target of LDS oppression. Please READ and wake up!!!!

    http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/05/17/john-travolta-accused-trying-to-grope-late-grease-co-star-jeff-conaway/?intcmp=features

    http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/05/18/travolta-scandal-former-and-current-lawyers-for-john-does-1-and-2-now/?intcmp=features

    NOW WILL SMITH IN SCANDAL!!!

    http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/05/18/will-smith-slaps-male-reporter-for-kissing-him/?intcmp=features

    May 19, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • Humor My Secret Parts

      Baaaaaaaaaahahahahahaha!!

      May 19, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  14. PittUSMC

    God made man and woman. Satan made gays so they could die miserably from AIDS like they deserve.

    May 19, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • pervert alert

      Qu-eers = the folks who gave the world AIDS

      May 19, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      hmmmmm

      me thinks you are REACHING with your PREACHING

      May 19, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • jackusn

      How to say this politely? There is no way. You are a vile mutant.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:46 am |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    May 19, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • kch

      Religion isn't either, becuase they spread only lies!

      May 19, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • martog

      Claims wihout proof can be denied without proof

      May 19, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • just sayin

      Quoting dead atheist type guy doesn't say a lot about thinking for oneself. Proof of prayer is all around you. God bless

      May 19, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      prayer will lick you from behind and call himself God but your SPAMMING will never mean anything

      May 19, 2012 at 7:35 am |
  16. PittUSMC

    I think all gay men that get AIDS deserve it for being perverts.

    May 19, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • pervert alert

      The problem is that qu-eers have taken a lot of innocents out with AIDS as well.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • jackusn

      what really makes you so hateful?

      May 19, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • pervert alert

      Truth is not hate. Qu-eers whine hate every time they are confronted with Truth.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • martog

      And 'straight' people hvae no STD's?!?!?!? Are you RETARDED?????? Do I need to name some of them, or just the ones that Kill? Amazing just how STHOOPUD people can be!!!

      May 19, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      **************YAWN************************

      May 19, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • sbp

      I guess the so called innocents got what they deserved too, then. I mean, if they got AIDS, they MUST have deserved it, just like the gays.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • pervert alert

      Qu-eers have gone out of their way to insure AIDS was given to normal people.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • pervert alert

      Had there been no qu-eers there would be no AIDS

      May 19, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • jackusn

      How about the great majority of gay men who don't get HIV/Aids?

      May 19, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  17. abdc1

    For the idiots ,If God entended for you to marry Woman to womwn -Man to man .Why can you not produce a child and populate the earth . Think about it ,stupid is stupid does

    May 19, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • Humor My Secret Parts

      You're telling me you wouldn't partake in a little FFM action? You're missing out.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • martog

      Hmmmm,,,,why do so many 'good christians; have gay children? God's Will?????

      May 19, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • pervert alert

      There is no gay. Qu-eers stole the word to hide their dirty disgusting sins behind it. Ho mo se xuality is sin, learned and practiced by sinners – not a birth defect.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  18. Stephen

    Based on this "reasoning" no one should be denied baptism. I don't ever remember the Savior or his apostles teaching that keeping the commandments was optional. As a matter of fact, it was the one true way to demonstrate that you had changed from carnal to spiritual - by bending your will to the Savior's.

    Our Heavenly Father loves each of us so deeply we cannot begin to comprehend but mistaking that infinite love for the acceptance of sin does everyone a disservice.

    May 19, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • Humor My Secret Parts

      I enjoy swimming, but I'll kill a man if he tries dunking my head under the water. Why anyone would want this willingly is beyond my secret parts.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • susan

      Nicely said, Stephen

      May 19, 2012 at 7:18 am |
  19. Crom

    When I have proof that there is no god, and nobody has proof of a god, then I win. That's all there is to it. Too bad for you.

    May 19, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • yeenko

      @ Crom, Again you dont have proof of any thing other than your ignorance. When you have total knowledge then come back and be lame latter.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • just sayin

      1. Creation declares Gods handiwork. God bless

      May 19, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • Humor My Secret Parts

      Later? Latter? Ladder? There's no evidence for god or against god. I personally don't believe god exists. But either way who cares? Not like I'm going to burn in the hells. With my Secret parts.

      FFM = HOT

      May 19, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • Crom

      Still winning!
      Show me just ONE tiny bit of tiny proof of your tiny non-existent god and I will promise to think about it. Otherwise, I win again.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • just sayin

      2.The personal testimonies of millions of people over thousands of years. God bless

      May 19, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Crom - name stolen again no thanks to CNN

      Still winning!
      Creationism – totally debunked over and over
      Testimonies of delusional people – totally worthless over and over

      Bye you simpleminded child. You scream like a baby when you lose. Gawd Blesh.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      The very fact there is NO PROOF to be PROVEN

      WE WIN!!

      May 19, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • just sayin

      3. A negative can't be proven.

      For example, there is no possible way to prove that god does not exist. There is no possible way to provide evidence of a negative argument. The end.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • just sayin

      3. professing themselves to be wise they became fools and exchanged the glory of God for the creation. God bless

      May 19, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • just sayin

      4. God is – proven ! God bless

      May 19, 2012 at 7:46 am |
  20. Shills

    Typical "Make the Bible say whatever you want it to..." The God of the Bible (volume of 66 books) is not mocked folks.

    May 19, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • Humor My Secret Parts

      I don't know why people put so much stake in it. Christians are retards. Atheists, well, most of 'em spend a little too much time debating something that doesn't mean a bloody thing. If it doesn't mean anything, why debate it? I don't know, argumentative bunch I suppose. Christians are just so bloody stupid though. It really amazes me! At least I've got my secret parts. And popcorn to watch! It gives rise to my secret parts.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:18 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.