July 29th, 2013
08:48 AM ET

Pope Francis on gays: 'Who am I to judge?'

By John L. Allen Jr. and Hada Messia, CNN

Aboard the Papal Airplane (CNN) - Pope Francis said Monday that he will not "judge" gays and lesbians, including gay priests, signaling a shift from his predecessor and offering another sign that the new pope is committed to changing the church's approach to historically marginalized groups.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis said in a wide-ranging news conference aboard the papal plane.

Though he was answering a question about the so-called "gay lobby" at the Vatican, the pope indicated a change in tone, if not in teaching, in the church's stance towards gays and lesbians more generally.

The pope was flying back to Rome from Brazil, where he spent the past week celebrating World Youth Day, an international Catholic event that drew millions.

Taking questions from reporters aboard the plane, the pope addressed nearly every hot-button issue facing the Roman Catholic Church: its alleged "gay lobby," Vatican bank corruption, the role of women, abortion, homosexuality and his own personal security.

But it was the pope's remarks on homosexuality - the fact that the head of a 1 billion-member church said that it's not his place to judge gays - that caused the widest stir.

"Pope Francis's brief comment on gays reveals great mercy," said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at America, a Catholic magazine based in New York.

"Today Pope Francis has, once again, lived out the Gospel message of compassion for everyone," Martin said.

The pontiff spoke  for an hour and a half in the back of the plane that was carrying him back to Italy after his first international trip as pope to Brazil, where he was greeted by massive, frenzied crowds at every turn.

"I'm happy. It has been a beautiful trip, spiritually speaking; it has been good to me. I'm tired enough but with a heart full of joy," he said.

Here are the highlights from his press conference.

On the 'gay lobby' and homosexuality

The pope addressed the issue of an alleged "gay lobby" within the church. Hints that the Holy See contained a network of gay clergy surfaced last year in reports about a series of embarrassing leaks to Italian journalists.

The "Vatileaks" scandal factored in Benedict's shocking decision to resign this year, according to some church experts, as it impressed upon the 86-year-old pontiff that the modern papacy requires a vigorous and watchful presence.

"There's a lot of talk about the gay lobby, but I've never seen it on the Vatican ID card!" Francis said.

"When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn't be marginalized. The tendency (to homosexuality) is not the problem ... they're our brothers."

The problem, he said was, lobbies that work against the interest of the church.

In 2005, during the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican issued directives barring from the priesthood men "who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called 'gay culture.'"

Francis' brief remarks seem to signal a sharp shift from that policy.

On women

The pope also spoke out about the role of women in the church, saying it needs to be deeper and not end. But he brushed aside the possibility of ordaining women as priests, saying the church had spoken on the matter: "The church says no. That door is closed." He did say that more work needed to be done theologically on the role of women in the church.

On abortion

Pope watchers have noted that Francis said little to nothing about abortion on his trip to Brazil. Abortion is illegal in Brazil, except for cases in which the health of the mother is at risk. Laws were recently changed to allow abortions in cases in which the child would be born with certain life-threatening birth defects.

The pope said he had nothing to say on the trip about abortion because the church teachings against it were clear and this trip was the time for "positive" news.

On divorce

"I believe this is a time of mercy, a change of epoch," the pope said when asked about divorce. He said the group of eight cardinals tasked with reform will explore the issue of whether divorcees can receive Communion, which they are currently barred from doing.

On the Vatican Bank

The pope conceded he was unsure what to do with the Vatican Bank, which is known by its acronym IOR.

"Some say that it would be better if it were a bank, others say that it should be a foundation. Other say to shut it down. These are the suggestions going around. I don't know. I trust the commission's members that are working on the IOR. But I wouldn't be able to tell you how this story is going to end."

And as for what was in the black leather bag he carried onto the plane? A razor, a prayer book, a diary and a book about St. Theresa, but, the pope joked, "Certainly not the keys to the atomic bomb!"

He said he carried his own bags because, "It's normal, we have to be normal. We have to be accustomed to being normal."

CNN's Eric Marrapodi and Daniel Burke contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Abortion • Brazil • Catholic Church • Pope Francis • Vatican

soundoff (3,302 Responses)
  1. leah

    Pope Francis is a kind person. I have never known a pope to be that caring and inclusive of all people. I'm not even Catholic, be he seems to be one of the very few religious leaders I can count on one hand who actually lives God's word. Sadly, I have never found a pastor in my area who can live up to anywhere near those standards. But then again – I am from the Bible Belt, where churches are more in to exclusivity.

    July 29, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Jeff

      He is so kind to not hate gays. It's like finding a 1800's slave owner that really likes black people. The Pope is rare like that.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
      • leah

        You are exaggerating to the extreme there.

        It's all relative, Jeff. My southern preacher has been preaching hate towards gays for decades. Other popes haven't seemed to give a flip about them, as if they were trash. It's almost refreshing to see a religious leader to offer words of kindness towards gays these days.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  2. Jeff

    You might be a bigot if....

    You think not hating gays is an act of goodwill.
    You secretly/actively think all gays will burn in helI.
    You are a Catholic.

    July 29, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • marine1

      You might be dumb if:
      You post under the name Jeff.
      Don't have a kind word to say.
      You call people Bigot's for no reason.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
      • Honey Badger Don't Care

        He gave 3 really good reasons right there.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • HM8432

      You might also be a bigot if:

      You're anti-Catholic/Christian, beause they reject what's popular for what's right.
      Against God, because he disapproves of your sin (but loves you personally).
      Or you HATE anyone because their personal beliefs don't align with yours!

      Get over your opinionitis.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Kevin Flynn

      Obviously, you're the bigot. No sincere Christian hates anyone, duh. As for the burning in hell part, well, I can't help you there. What will be, will be.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • QS

      I do find it rather amusing when bigoted religious zealots claim victimhood because their victims have finally stood up to them.

      July 29, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  3. Andrew

    If I remember right judgement is left to God not at the hand of mortal man. At least this what I was taught, if it is within us to point fingers then it is within us (humanity) to not point fingers. Those of us that do not believe in a sky wizard that punishes us for everything have pity on those that do. Enjoy this world we only go around once. The Jesus message was love man not war the bible was the interpretation gods word through man. To me this means man put it's own spin on the word so don't take it so seriously.

    July 29, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Bobby

      Really Frankie ? Guess you forgot to pass on your views to the pedophiles of your so called church here in the US. Funny how US so called priest, bishops, cardinals & archbishops are so intolerant towards gay and so many of their so called "holy men" are not only gay but criminal pedophiles. Wow! Amazing huh. And how much has this so called church paid out in settlements in the US ? Any guesses people ?

      July 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
      • niknak

        Being gay has nothing to do with pedophilia.
        Being a pedophile has nothing to do with being gay.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
      • niknak

        Being g ay has nothing to do with ped ophilia.
        Being a ped ophile has nothing to do with being g ay.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
      • Andrew

        Who's Frankie

        July 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  4. phrancis

    Wow, when "God's Vicar" is fair and non-judgemental, then I'm really cool with growing up Catholic...

    July 29, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  5. lenojames

    "Who am I to judge? Live and let live, I say! Mazel Tov!"

    July 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Stephen

      I agree. He wont be there when you die so , what the hell?! make up your own mind. I love this guy.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  6. sc

    "I won't judge gay priests, but the door is closed to women.: Nice.

    July 29, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  7. leah

    So, why has my Southern Baptist preacher been bashing gays from the pulpit for close to 30 years now?

    I question his concept of mercy.

    July 29, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • D

      You're questioning whose sense of mercy? Your preacher's or the Pope's?

      July 29, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
      • leah

        My preacher's.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Merrillee

      Do you attend Westboro?

      July 29, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • skarphace

      Well, to be sure, Catholic is not Baptist. Baptists are one step shy of Evangelists and take the Bible very literally and strictly. As for myself, I questioned my Baptist preacher (many, many years ago) when he said that the Earth was only about 6,000 years old and that God put dinosaur bones in the earth already aged in order to test our faith. From then on, I considered him a quack.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Paul

      Leah – I am the son of a Southern Baptist preacher. I have left "religion" in favor of "spirituality" Everything you are taught in the organized structure of the Southern Baptist Convention is meant to do one thing – control your thoughts and actions on the most insidious and subtle level. Stop and think about it – they tell you who is and isn't eligible for heaven, they tell you how to act and react and which exact scriptures to quote and in which contexts.And don't they and only they speak for God. Do as we instruct and eternal life shall be yours – go against us and you will suffer eternal damnation. Take a break and stop listening to the pulpit – listen to your heart and reach your own conclusions. The Bible is merely a book. The old testament is Jewish mythology and the new is fraught with major problems of which the clergy is aware but won't bring up. Don't believe me – do some outside of church studying and reach your own conclusion. Everything that is known in this earth has to fit God because God made it all. Ask why. God gave you that brain – use it.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • i.am.an.eagle

      obviously you've been going to church for 30 yrs yet still do not have any idea the meaning of "mercy".

      July 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  8. asingh

    I'm not a Catholic or Christian go that matter, but I really admire Pope Francis's courage and honesty in handling such issues. He's trying to get Catholics focussed back on what was Jesus's primary message – to serve the poor and needy. He does not want to get mired in minor issues. If everyone can focus on making himself or herself better and desist from being a judge for others actions, world be a better place.

    July 29, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  9. Charlie

    Now who will be the groom and bride that pope will get to tie their knots? Is this normal?

    July 29, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • skarphace

      The word "normal" means different things to different people based on a variety of issues, such as society and time. It wasn't that long ago that it was "normal" in America that only White males could vote. Now, such a concept seems ludicrous. It wasn't too long before that, that slavery in America was "normal". It is now highly illegal. It wasn't too long before that, that marriage could be between an adult and a child. That would be considered very wrong now.

      As for gay marriage? Trust me, it will not be too long, maybe 30-40 years from now, that gay marriage will be "normal" in our society, and most societies in the world. Times change, and with it the meaning of "normal" changes as well.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  10. Snow

    wow.. so graceful and merciful of the pope to acknowledge that people have equal civil rights.. dam(n) decent of him to bestow upon the people the right to do what they want in their own bedrooms, which to begin with, is none of their dam(n) business

    July 29, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Snow: would you make the same argument for Ariel Castro?

      July 29, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
      • Merrillee

        I don't know how you would conflate consenting adult behavior with kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment/rape and forced childbirth, but whatever.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Merrillee: as I just answered ME II below...
          that's attempting to dodge the objection. you care about justice in the privacy of someone else's bedroom when you believe something immoral is happening there. sound familiar?

          July 29, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
        • Ted

          Just ignore Russ. He'll go on all day popping up straw men and other tricks as a way to weasel in to try to push his god fables at you.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @russ, that is the stupidest response possible. it has nothing to do with morals and everything to do with the rights of the victims not to be imprisoned.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Ted: the ultimate straw man is ignoring a substantive discussion.
          and that's why your argument is self-refuting.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
        • Russ

          @ snowboarder: look up ethics. look up rights. guess what category they fall under? morality.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
        • snowboarder

          sorry @russ. your assertion is absurd. i'm not going to waste my time on you. you are clearly an idiot.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • Russ

          @ snowboarder: i make an appeal to morality. you say that's stupid. i tell you to look up the definition (as it directly fits). again, you call me an idiot... and claim *I* am the one being illogical?

          July 29, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          'you care about justice in the privacy of someone else's bedroom when you believe something immoral is happening there. sound familiar?'

          yeah, you are confusing 'immoral' with 'illegal'. That is actually a huge difference.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
        • Russ

          @ cedar: and upon what basis was that act made illegal?

          July 29, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          @ cedar: and upon what basis was that act made illegal?'

          On the basis of the laws that society has created that say that such crimes are illegal because society understands that individuals have certain rights and that without such laws there would be anarchy.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
        • Russ

          @ cedar: and upon what basis do we assume people have "rights"?

          July 29, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          variety of factors.
          few simple examples:

          cogito ergo sum.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
        • Russ

          @ cedar: so you make an appeal to Descartes, but don't recognize he was stripping down existence in an attempt to build an unassailable moral basis?

          seriously, do you not concede that morality is the basis for our legislation (even if one's morality does not allow for a higher authority than human existence itself)?

          July 29, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
        • cedar rapids

          Morality and laws come from the same source. There is a difference however between the immoral and illegal. Murder is not illegal because it is 'immoral'.
          Your attempt to claim that Casto is apparently the same thing ignores that his actions infringe on the rights of others. What is considered immoral in regards to being gay does not.

          July 29, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
        • Russ

          @ cedar:
          a) i'm beginning to get the impression you think things are illegal just because they are illegal. so why was MLK right to fight for civil rights? is there ever a case for civil disobedience?

          b) I'm not claiming illegal and immoral are synonymous. but what is that "same source" from which they come?

          c) I did not ignore the fact that his actions infringed on the rights of others. yet here we are again appealing to 'rights' & the underlying notion of immorality. and – considering what you've said above – on what basis do you appeal to those rights?

          July 29, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          cedar has made a useful point in bringing up society as a source of rights. The only rights anyone has are the ones we confer on one another. Immorality is similar. For the most part we learn from each other what we ought and ought not do to one other. There's no special basis for it other than what is, to us, apparently harmful or beneficial.

          July 29, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
        • Russ

          @ TTTOO:
          a) I don't actually see where Cedar has given an answer for what s/he thinks the "source" is.

          b) and the same question holds for you: if society confers morality upon itself – who or what is the agent for change? and upon what basis could one make that argument?

          moreover, is what MLK & Wilberforce did positive or not? or bluntly: is racism always wrong? per your argument, it certainly all the more appropriate to have brought up Castro as an example. is there anything you would say is categorically wrong (pedophilia, racism, kidnapping, etc.)? if so, how can you reconcile that with what you've just claimed about society?

          July 29, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Regarding Castro: Society is based on agreements we make with each other concerning what we are willing to give up and what we are willing to give in return for the benefits of cooperating in a group. Usually, we are unwilling to give up freedom of mobility, freedom to control what happens to our own bodies and the other things that are lost with enslavement. We recognize rights that prohibit enslavement first of all in ourselves, we require such rights for ourselves, and in other people because we feel that a society free of enslavement is most beneficial. Beneficial to ourselves, and to the group whose welfare is beneficial to us.
          This is not based on a cold calculation. We feel empathy for one another, something we have learned to feel and evolved to feel that reinforces beliefs and behaviour beneficial to groups. So we have a sense of what ought and ought not happen to people other than ourselves. So we believe and feel that people ought not be enslaved by other people.

          July 30, 2013 at 7:44 am |
        • Russ

          @ TTTOO: you did not address my final paragraph. is racism, pedophilia, etc. always wrong or not?
          if it's only based on what a society agrees to think, how can you say the Nazis were wrong?
          if such things are always wrong, then how does that work across varied societies?

          July 30, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
      • sam

        Tried way too hard on that one, Russ. Kind of embarrassing.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        • Russ

          @ sam: no, what's embarrassing is an obvious double standard from those claiming "it doesn't matter what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom." it's radical individualism that simply denies the reality that we are a human community and there ARE consequences to immoral behavior.

          the entire debate is: who/what defines immorality?
          the "privacy of my bedroom" argument fails when applied across the board.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
        • ME II

          ""it doesn't matter what you do in the privacy of your own bedroo"

          No one claimed anything of the sort.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • sam

          Russ has trouble telling apples from oranges, as usual. Russ, go call a friend or family member or coworker and say this to them, then let them explain to you how you're grossly wrong and need to reboot your logic skills.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ME II: read Snow's original comment above. I virtually quoted him.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • Russ

          @ sam: i poked at you once because I thought you'd actually come back with a substantive response. i'm disappointed to see you are instead making me look prophetic. you're still dodging.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
        • sam

          No, Russ. No one's dodging. You're trying to validate yourself by accusing others of humor, or not seeing your point, or whatever. You truly have a crap argument, here. The more you try and make it look like you made a fair comparison on 'morality', the more desperate you look.

          You're being mocked because you should be, at this point.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Russ

          @ sam: i await a SINGLE attempt at an argument from you.
          instead, you continue to avoid making one.
          i've given you every opportunity, but i'm beginning to think you simply don't have one.

          upon what basis do you make an appeal to morality? where do you get your ethics?

          July 29, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
        • ME II

          Snow said, "the right to do what they want in their own bedrooms"
          Russ said, ""it doesn't matter what you do in the privacy of your own bedroo""

          I submit that "what they want" implies "consenting adults" as opposed to "it doesn't matter what you do". which is why my first reply specified, "I think @Snow meant 'consenting adults' in their own bedroom. "

          If you disagree with what @Snow intended to say, then argue that,

          July 29, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
        • sam

          Jesus. There would have to be someone reasonable to make a substantive argument to, Russ. Go away.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ME II:
          Snow wrote: "...dam(n) decent of him to bestow upon the people the right to do what they want in their own bedrooms, which to begin with, is none of their dam(n) business..."

          how else can you interpret that? "the right to do what they want... none of their dam(n) business"
          that's pretty much the definition of radical individualism.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
        • ME II

          "how else can you interpret that? 'the right to do what they want... none of their dam(n) business'
          that's pretty much the definition of radical individualism."

          I am unfamiliar with "radical individualism", however I would, and did, interpret the full quote to mean that there is nothing wrong with what consenting adults do se.xually. (perhaps the problem here is that "in their own bedroom" is generally used as a euphemism for se.x, not necessarily 'in private'.)

          July 29, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ME II: I gave a fuller response below elsewhere... but i still think the "none of your dam(n) business" screams pure individualism... and (as I rather clearly tapped a communal [pun intended] nerve here) leaves him with no moral basis upon which to object to the case of Ariel Castro.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
        • ME II

          I still don't know what you mean by "individualism". Regardless, the communal (what pun?) nerve you hit was the comparison of gays to Ariel Castro, which is a completely inaccurate comparison.

          July 29, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ME II:

          a) what *I* mean by individualism? really? you think it's just semantics.
          here's Webster's definition 1a: "a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount..."
          in other words, stressing the 'individual' to the exclusion of the community.

          b) i hate to have to explain a pun. puns are cheap jokes already... explaining it is like beating a dead horse. but – as you wish:
          the double meaning here – 1) communal in the sense of this *community* discussion; 2) communal as a concept which directly opposes individualism.

          c) as i've repeatedly said: the primary issue wasn't comparing ga.ys to Castro, it was the self-contradictory stance of individualism. clearly, claiming things like "they have the right to do whatever they want in their bedroom" & it's "none of their dam(n) business" simply FAILS the test of consistency. exhibit A: Ariel Castro.

          as much as everyone was clearly up in arms about a potential analogy between ra.p.e, kidn.apping and ho.mo.se.xuality – NO ONE objected by claiming that Ariel Castro had the right to do whatever he wanted in his own bedroom & it was none of our business to know what he did. but THAT would have been the only consistent argument for individualism.

          d) which draws me back to the original point: the entire debate is whether or not ho.mo.se.xuality is moral – NOT "I can do whatever I want in private." VERY few people actually believe the latter claim – yet a lot of people keep appealing to that argument, which is self-contradictory.

          so, to come full circle – since everyone seems to agree what Castro did is immoral (which is WHY I chose the obviously incendiary example), hopefully the analogy here HELPS in understanding those with whom you disagree. if something is immoral, it's immoral (even if not to the degree of other, more heinous crimes). and in that regard, "the privacy of my own bedroom" is a fa.lla.cious argument.

          July 29, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
        • ME II

          a) "...to the exclusion of the community." Ah, that is not necessarily always the case. Thanks for the clarification.
          I would have taken that quote, along with other varitations, to mean that while "values, rights, and duties originate in individuals" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/individualism) they do not necessarily "exclude", or go against, the community.

          b) I would think that more ironic, a communal nerve among "individualists", than a pun, but whatever.

          c) And as has been repeatedly said to you, @Snow did not intend to claim such. Stop beating a dead straw-man.

          d) That was not @Snow's intent, not is anyone claiming such, I don't think.

          "'the privacy of my own bedroom' is a fallacious argument."

          Clearly you did not understand the claim. The basis for it being 'none of their damn business' was consenting adults acting in private, i.e. no one involved is getting hurt and no one not involved is even exposed to said action. Therefore, it is none of their damn business. The claim was not resting solely on it being in private.

          You are taking @Snow's statement out of the context of a discussion of legal behavior between consenting adults that impacts no one else.

          July 30, 2013 at 11:55 am |
        • Russ

          @ ME II:
          a) 'expense' would have been a better word than 'exclusion.' the point is priority – and individualism does NECESSARILY entail that: prioritizing the individual over the communal. while that doesn't mean they necessarily *always* go against the community, it certainly means at times that they will.

          b) whatever works for you

          c) as i've said repeatedly on this page now, you're missing my argument because you are assuming "consenting adults" "do no harm" – but that is entirely the debate. by assuming your answer in formulating the debate, you are begging the question.

          and that's why i *purposefully* chose an example that virtually NO ONE claims is morally acceptable. if you hadn't assumed your position was moral in the first place, then appealing to privacy, consent & age did not *prove* morality in any form.

          it's not a straw man to point out the argument is flawed.

          d) you seem to miss what i'm doing. by pulling the argument apart & showing how each subset of the argument is flawed, it follows that two or more fallacious arguments do not make a good argument. and when you peel away the fallacious arguments, all you are left with is the assumption – again, which you make at the outset – that your position is moral... which is the very thing we are debating. and that – in and of itself – is a logical fallacy: question begging.

          it is not taking him out of context. it is breaking down the argument into its various parts. and when each part fails... so does the argument as a whole.

          July 30, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
        • ME II

          Let me try to consolidate some of this.

          The basis for our society's standards of ethical behavior is a 'social contract' between people for what they perceive to be the best outcome potential for everyone involved. It is an on-going negotiation between everyone involved and it can change continually. And yes, "best outcome" is also subjective and part of the negotiation.

          Within that contract individuals do sometimes take priority over the community, exemplified in the Bill of Rights, and sometimes the community takes priority over the individual, e.g. police, laws, taxes, etc.

          And while harm is possible between consenting adults, within the contract, as far as I understand it, the community does not have a right to know what happens 'in the bedroom', unless there is reason to suspect harm has been done. Your scenario, however changes a critical factor in determining which interests, individual or community, take priority, i.e. adult consent.
          Does that mean that all behavior "in the bedroom" is ethical? No.
          Does that leave a possibility of unethical behavior going unpunished? Yes.

          Definition of HARM
          1: physical or mental damage : injury


          I am not assuming that which is in debate because I am not assuming that some "absolute right" or "absolute wrong" has been committed, only whether the actions are within the social contract. Whether that contract agrees with your idea of "absolute morality" is another augment, which would, by necessity I think, be begging the question since the existence of such an "absolute morality" has not been established.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
        • ME II


          Perhaps, what you are looking for is what are hypothesized to have been evolutionary survival traits of empathy and reciprocity as a source of "morality".

          Empathy allows people to "feel" the pain of others and therefore say it is "bad"... because it hurts.
          Reciprocity allows people benefit from the cooperation of others and therefore say it is "good"... because it works better.

          These may be the basis, at least in part, for all moral / ethical judgments. Does that make them "absolute"? No, I don't think so.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
      • niknak

        No he wouldn't because what Castro did was kidnap then ra pe underage girls and what Snow is talking about is a union between two consenting adults.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
        • Russ

          @ niknak: then why bring up privacy? does morality not equally apply in private as well as outside of it?

          July 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
        • ME II

          " then why bring up privacy? does morality not equally apply in private as well as outside of it?"

          Because the article is about judgement of of gays, which is usually concerned with what they do in their own bedroom, not in public.

          As I've heard many "Christians" claim there is nothing wrong with being gay just with gay actions, e.g. those things that happen in the bedroom.


          July 29, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ME II: certainly morality applies in both places, even if there are situational differences between the two locales (as noted below).

          IF – following the logic of the argument – one believes that an alcoholic has a problem... having an inborn proclivity is not in and of itself the same as acting upon that tendency. in that regard, whether you agree with conservative Christians or not, the logic holds from their position. but in either case – your moral basis has told you from the outset that alcoholism is a problem. and again, that's the entirety of the debate.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
      • dave

        Russ, get a life. Nonsense argument. Intellectually lazy at best.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
      • Alison Tschains

        Sorry Russ...I guess you want someone to say being gay is just as bad as kidnapping and ra.ping little girls, but that's not going to happen today

        July 29, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Alison: no, actually, that's not what I'm after. though that might fit some of the straw men here.
          but at least you appealed to some sort of underlying ethical system...

          July 29, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
      • skarphace

        Do not feed the trolls.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
        • Russ

          @ skarphace: yet again, name calling does not equate to a substantive argument...

          July 29, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
        • sam

          I actually wish he was trolling. That would be better than knowing he's wandering around in the real world being this much of a jerkoff.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
      • Snow

        @Russ.. Time for an English class.. Look up a dictionary for the definition of words in set 1: "immoral", "illegal", "rape", "kidnap" and finally look up the definition of words in set 2: "consensual", "homosexual".. Now try to figure out if there is a link between words in set1 and set2.

        fyi, there is no link. The two sets are mutually exclusive. any type of link you want to make only exist in your mind..

        July 29, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Snow:
          not only is your claim factually untrue (ho.mo.se.xual is still widely associated with both the words "illegal" & "immoral"), but your two sets are self-projections. it does nothing to further your argument.

          see my longer response to you below per your other arguments.

          July 29, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        Can you understand the concept of consent?

        What any two (or more) willing adults consent to do in the privacy of a bedroom is of no concern to anyone a) not in the bedroom, b) not harmed by what is happening in that bedroom.

        When that consent is NOT given and someone IS harmed, then the act is punishable under the law.

        Is that REALLY so difficult for you to understand?

        July 30, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
        • Russ

          @ weight: you did not read what I've written here.

          a) consent does not necessarily entail legal (prosti.tution, drugs, etc.), nor is it necessarily moral even if some might deem it legal (euthanasia).

          b) your presumption that "what's done in private" is of "no concern to anyone" else assumes a radical individualism. it ignores that we are a human community. and underneath, it's still avoiding the issue: how do you know what's harmful or immoral? does privacy with consent guarantee it's not harmful? not only did i give you examples in 'a' to the contrary, but again, that depends utterly on how you define morality (& on what basis you appeal to it).

          c) "when no one is harmed..." this is question begging. the debate is whether or not something is immoral. if it is immoral, then yes – it is harmful. your beginning with an assumption that already answers the question. that's the definition of begging the question.

          July 30, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
        • myweightinwords

          Russ, you and I will never agree to what is or is not immoral because you cling to belief and a need for authority, while I do not.

          Morality is defined by a culture, by a society. The very most minimal definition is that which causes no harm. Of course, because we do not live in a vacuum, we will inevitably cause harm. Living a moral life therefore requires us to choose each and every moment of each and every day to take the path that causes the least amount of harm.

          In regards to a sexual situation, privacy and consent are only two components that must be considered, perhaps we can call them the base components of morality for a sexual situation. Of course there are other concerns, like whether both (or more) partners are free to engage in said activity, have honestly disclosed their health statuses, etc.

          Now, of course there is also the case where harm is caused intentionally and with consent. It may not be your thing, but it is not your purview to tell me whether or not it is moral or morally objectionable for me.

          So no, you can not compare condemning that man who kidnapped and raped those women to a consensual act between two adult people, regardless of their gender or marital status.

          There is nothing to compare.

          August 1, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • ME II

      I think @Snow meant 'consenting adults' in their own bedroom. To compare that to the kidnapper/rapist in Cleveland is obnoxious.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
      • Russ

        @ ME II: that's attempting to dodge the objection. you care about justice in the privacy of someone else's bedroom when you believe something immoral is happening there. sound familiar?

        July 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        • sam

          Please quit before you strain something.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
        • Russ

          @ sam: dodging the debate with attempts at humor is still dodging the debate.
          are you willing to be consistent or not? are you enraged at the injustice Castro did in private or not?

          July 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • phrancis

          Um, that's quite the leap in logic. Despite what you might find "immoral", that has no bearing on consenting adults.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • Ted

          Too funny, Russ trying to tell someone else how to conduct a debate. Russ, go fsck yourself. We've dealt with you before and already.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • Russ

          @ phrances: no, your entire appeal to "consenting adults" is presupposing "consenting" makes it moral.
          morality is the entirety of the debate.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Ted: don't recall EVER talking to you before...
          and you're still dodging the content of the discussion.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
        • sam

          Everyone's telling you you're wrong, Russ, because you're wrong. You've actually turned the corner into disturbing at this point.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
        • Russ

          @ sam: speaking of logical fallacy, majority does not make right.
          but again, that would require an appeal to a moral basis.

          what is your basis for ethics, sam?
          why am i "disturbing" you? based on what set of standards?

          July 29, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
        • sam

          Russ, again. Comparing what *consensual* adults do behind closed doors (regardless of how immoral you think they might be) with a creepy weirdo kidnapping and raping girls as if they were the same immorality is idiocy.

          I'm not sure where your disconnect is. The first does no harm (unless you're hoping it does imaginary harm to their soul or whatever which is BS) and the second definitely does harm.

          Maybe you can find someone to use smaller words to help you, or something.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
        • Russ

          @ sam: your position is self-contradictory. i agree that Castro is creepy... but that's based on a moral appeal! and that's what you seem to miss.

          you are making claims against Castro in a moral appeal... and then claiming others cannot make such claims against positions you support (again, based on your own moral appeal)... BUT all the while claiming morality has nothing to do with it.

          your entire position is based upon your morals. so you can't use "don't push your morals on others" as an argument against me when it's exactly what you yourself are doing.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
        • Damocles


          Castro committed an act that resulted in some very serious consequences. Trying to label it moral or immoral serves no purpose other than to try and shore up your crumbling defenses.

          It boils down to this: you think two guys together or two women together is icky and even though I don't know you personally, I'll wager you are a bit of a hypocrite in that you find two women together slightly less icky. That's fine, you have that right to find what people do not to your liking.

          The great thing is, you don't have to do something you don't want to do. Don't want to have se-x with another guy? Don't. Don't want to see two women together? Don't.

          Why is this so complicated?

          July 29, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Damocles: no, quite the contrary. sounds more like you are self-projecting.
          from the formulation of your argument, it sounds like you are a pragmatist.

          i'm not making a pragmatic appeal (to experience) or a teleological one (in light of consequences), but rather a deontological one (it ontologically either IS or IS NOT moral).

          directly to your point, i've had this debate with face to face with friends with whom I directly disagree. it's not a matter of what icky. it's a matter of ethics. and – yet again – upon what basis do you make such claims of morality?

          July 29, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
        • Damocles

          What I am telling you, Russ, is that there are acts and consequences. Castro committed an act that had severe consequences. Your moral/immoral argument is an appeal to some supposed higher authority.

          If you want to continue in this vein with Castro, where was this supposed higher power during all those years of captivity? Did it suddenly say 'oh, that's wrong' and lead the authorities to the house? No, so it obviously had little to no problem with what was going on.

          You will have one leg to stand on when this higher authority acts like it gives a crap about what goes on.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Damocles: now we're talking!

          a) so you're only objection to Ariel Castro is to the "consequences"? because I can think of MANY scenarios in which there were virtually no practical *consequences* that MOST people still find disturbing (ra.p.ing a terminally ill, comatose victim, etc.). are you claiming that if there are no negative, practical consequences, an action is ok?

          b) i am appealing to a higher authority (as does everyone! though some don't realize it – especially when their own "higher" authority is their own experience). do you think you are not appealing to such a higher authority? if not, upon what basis do you object to ANY so-called immoral acts outside your immediate experience?

          or more directly: are there any actions/beliefs that you claim are categorically (always) wrong? racism, pedophilia, etc.? if racism doesn't take action, do you still consider it morally reprehensible?

          c) full disclosure (though I'm sure no one is surprised): i am a Christian. and much to the contrary of your non-sequitur (that if God allowed it, he's ok with it), the cross rather definitively states that God is doing something about our suffering – and he's not ok with it. as Joseph said: "You intended it for evil, but God will use it for good" (Gen.50:20).

          July 29, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
        • Damocles

          There is nothing that anyone can do about what people think. If a person thinks racism is ok, there is nothing I can do about that and unless that person shares with me what they think, I have no way of knowing. But, even if they share that with me, I can't really beat the crap out of them unless they do something, no matter how much I'd like to. Then I am in the wrong.

          The consequences vary and your scenario of ra-ping someone who can't fight back is still going to heap some consequences on that person.

          Regardless of how people want to couch it behind the words 'indentured servitude', slavery is condoned in the bible, seen as morally ok. Are you ok with that?

          I guess I'll offer up a disclosure as well: I'm a human.

          Your 'my deity is going to set things right' is hollow. The idea of making someone suffer to bring them closer is horrible. And I'll ask this of you, just like I asked this of austin. Now to be fair, I didn't expect an answer from austin, but I'd like one from you. How much suffering/death/pain/misery is ok with you if it brings someone closer to your deity? Like, say, a murderer kills ten people and then 'truly repents' and gets right with the deity, are those ten murders ok with you since it brought one person into the light?

          July 29, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Damocles:
          a) your pragmatism is failing its own criteria. if it's really about consequences, then you CANNOT (by definition, within your own system of belief) be upset about racist tendencies that don't take action. And yet you are... on what basis? or am i mistaken and you think racist thoughts are ok as long as they don't take action?

          b) again, you're dodging the example. i chose it purposefully. a terminally ill, comatose person cannot have any pragmatic consequences heaped upon them – especially in the most extreme cases. (another example would be euthanasia.) sure, you can have objections to the scenario, but not as a pragmatist. again, why are you contradicting your supposed basis for morality?

          c) slavery is affirmed in the Bible – namely, to Christ. as a matter of fact, it's one of the definitions of sin: letting something other than God be your master. every other master will demand you die for it. only one Master willingly dies in our place.

          over and against your argument for 'condoning' slavery, read Philemon or even Galatians 3:28. what is it that God is doing with our broken societal structures? the Haustafel in Colossians & Ephesians are not a qualitative defense of human to human slavery, but an appeal to the fact that we all answer primarily to one Master.

          and the bigger issue for you: it's that exact sentiment that led both MLK & William Wilberforce to fight for civil rights against a society that found such racism legal. hear that again... historically, it was this same Bible you disdain that was the basis for CHANGING broken societal norms. why? because the Bible taught the opposite.

          d) so "you're a human." i was tempted to chalk this comment up as simple mockery... but i can't help but wonder if you aren't honestly seeing me as less than... in which case – is that not the very thing you're supposedly fighting against here?

          e) your argument is a non-sequitur. God is not "making us suffer to bring us closer" – as though He was responsible for our suffering. the whole point of "The Fall" is that we did this to ourselves... and we continue to do so. it's the reason we call brokenness whole and wholeness broken.

          as one famous writer put it: are we troubled that the strong kill the weak – especially in regard to humanity? if that is the rule of nature, which is broken – us or nature?

          no, as I said before – this is our fault. we have done this to ourselves. he is not obligated to do anything. he could just leave us to our own self-wrought demise. but the Good News is "we intended it for evil, but he uses it for good." he intervenes. he upholds justice (dying in my place) while extending mercy (making the place of justice now the place of mercy) – on the cross.

          in sum, the cross tells us two things:
          1) it's worse than we want to admit (we deserve death)
          2) it's better than we ever dared hope (he loves so much he takes my place)

          July 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
      • ME II

        What are you talking about?
        I'm saying that no one has any business passing judgement on what consenting adults do in private. That in no way includes what Castro did to those girls.

        You are attempting to conflate the difficulties of knowing when something occurs with judging whether that thing is "good" or "bad"

        July 29, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ME II: you are *adding* stipulations to your privacy argument.
          my point is: privacy is not germane on the central issue at hand.
          either it's moral or it isn't.

          i'm purposefully choosing an over the top example to force the issue.
          (virtually) NO ONE actually believes what Castro did in private is ok. so drop the privacy issue.
          and what's left? is it moral or not?

          that's your entire "consenting adults" argument...
          but it's unrelated to the "in private" concern.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
        • ME II

          "my point is: privacy is not germane on the central issue at hand.
          either it's moral or it isn't."

          In the sense that "in private" is not the primary factor, I'd agree. However, it was a stipulation because things that happen in the bedroom between consenting adults are not always legal nor acceptable when done in public, so privacy is "a factor", but I'd agree that it is not the primary factor.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • sam

          The pretzel logic he's using to force his view is actually beginning to get creepy.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ME II: thank you for actually engaging the argument (unlike sam). yes, point taken. i'm not pressing for public acts of indecency... but i am pressing the litmus test: morality.

          and in that regard, the critique still stands: upon what basis does one claim something is moral or immoral?
          the entire discussion here finds its roots (and answer) in that discussion.

          but seems to me so many on this board simply drink the koolaid of whatever culture is saying... even if it's self-contradictory.

          and that was my initial point: radical individualism (to which Snow seemed to strongly appeal in his dodge of the Pope's claim to authority) has no basis for being upset about injustice. it's self-contradictory.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
        • ME II

          "upon what basis does one claim something is moral or immoral?
          the entire discussion here finds its roots (and answer) in that discussion."

          It was not apparent from you comments, that this was your point.

          "radical individualism (to which Snow seemed to strongly appeal in his dodge of the Pope's claim to authority) has no basis for being upset about injustice. it's self-contradictory."

          As I said, in my first comment, I don't think @Snow was making a claim to "radical individualism" (whatever that is), I think @Snow was assuming/implying "consenting adults".

          If @Snow was actually claiming that 'anything goes' in one's bedroom, including illegal and/or unethical activity, then I might agree with you that @Snow was incorrect, but I don't think that was @Snow's intent. And, I think, that is why you've garnered some much opposition. You are misunderstanding @Snow's intent.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ME II: i disagree on two grounds...

          a) you are reading the overarching debate into a comment primarily directed against the Pope's authority. the main thing in focus is an objection to authority, not the particulars disagreeing with that authority.

          the main concession i'd give is that he says "equal civil rights..." which certainly would go in favor of consent.

          b) however, he stresses "none of their dam(n) business." as so often heard on this topic – that's a rather direct statement against any sort of mutual accountability, combined with an objection to any sort of external authority. again, i don't see how one avoids concluding this is pure individualism... which CANNOT appeal to injustice without being self-contradictory.

          c) as to the larger & main debate – ho.mo.se.xuality – i still contend that the entire discussion for most begins and ends with their moral basis.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
        • ME II

          If by "objection to authority", you mean any extraordinary authority assumed by the Pope then yes, @Snow seems quite opposed to it. I don't disagree with him on that since I don't think the Pope has any more or less authority than anyone else (except in the Vatican, of course.)

          I also would not disagree with it being "none of their dam(n) business" when it concerns the se.xual practices of consenting adults. If no one is being harmed, without consent, then what business is it of the Pope's what people do concerning se.x between consenting adults?

          "i still contend that the entire discussion for most begins and ends with their moral basis."

          Can't you say that about nearly every debate, or every one not centered around mere opinion anyway?

          July 29, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ME II:
          a) as a non-Catholic, I also don't consider the Pope an authority figure myself. However, as a Christian, I do recognize that over 1 billion Catholics do look to him in some capacity as an authority – and (to some degree) in that regard he represents Christianity in the public sphere.

          b) you said: "if no one is being harmed..." and yet you later concede this is about morality. since the former requires assuming the latter, this argument is begging the question.

          c) yes, i do think morality underlies ALL such cultural discussions... but somehow that seems to be conveniently forgotten in most of the arguments on this blog. of course, i could equally apply that critique to the American Church as a whole...

          July 29, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
        • ME II

          Your equivocation and misinterpretation reminds me of someone else who used to roam these pages looking for words to twist.

          "their moral basis" and "about morality" are not necessarily the same thing. "Morality" often implies an absolute or objectively true moral system, whereas "their moral basis", I assumed, meant what someone thinks of as right and wrong. One is absolute and the other is subjective.

          How exactly would saying this is about morals, or ethics, be begging the question?

          You've brought up multiple points of debate, I think, unnecessarily.

          @Snow's objection to the Pope's authority? Yes, s/he's opposed to it.
          Does the right of privacy protect illegal or unethical behavior? No, I don't think @Snow or anyone else is claiming that. (If you want to argue about the state's right to surveil citizens in order to prevent illegal activity, then that is another discussion.)
          Is @Snow's statement based on moral, ethical, values? Yes.

          I suspect what you are trying to say is, 'How can you say anything is 'wrong' if there are no moral absolutes?'
          To which I would reply that we as a society, or groups of societies, have developed a system of ethical behavior that seems to benefit the most people most of the time while at the same time protecting certain individual abilities, or "rights", that we as individuals value, even from the society which developed the system.

          July 29, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ME II:
          a) it is not *my* equivocation to point out that *others* are not being consistent by their *own* standards.

          b) you said: "one is absolute and the other is subjective." at least i know you are hearing the critique – but you are applying it to me. i believe a moral basis is necessarily absolute (though I'd think we've already established that) – but i recognize that many armchair existentialists on this blog are not being consistent within their own framework (and thereby wanting to be BOTH absolute on some things while also being subjective on others).

          and that's the whole point: "what i do in my bedroom... is none of their dam(n) business" is a subjective appeal – but when Ariel Castro's case is invoked, suddenly absolutes appear. that's inconsistent.

          c) begging the question...
          saying "if no one is being harmed..." requires an ethical appraisal. how would you know if someone is not being harmed? on a moral basis. but that's the ENTIRE debate here. to make that argument is to assume the answer before asking it. that's the definition of begging the question.

          d) multiple points of debate...
          i) so you see that the right to privacy doesn't trump illegal/unethical behavior, but you don't see how – couched in those exact same terms – your own contentions fail that same test?
          ii) i am not arguing the state's right to Orwell's "thought police" – but rather that morality in essence calls those things out *regardless*.
          iii) my point was that Snow's own articulation is self-contradictory. but i think we've covered that repeatedly already.

          e) i actually was giving you more credit than that. to say "there are no moral absolutes" fails its own criteria. however, a truly relative framework (a la Nietzsche) must concede that a potential future formulation of ethics could be directly contrary to our current formulation. or to be blunt: one must allow that maybe the Nazis got it right, they were just ahead of their time.

          most people are unwilling to go there – but again, that's because they not following their supposed moral basis. what about you?

          July 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
        • ME II

          a) you are not holding them to their own standards, but your speculation of what their standards are, e.g. no one has claimed "individualism" much less "radical".

          b) "i believe a moral basis is necessarily absolute..."

          This goes to my point exactly. A moral basis, i.e. basis for a system of ethical behavior, does not necessarily mean an absolute right and wrong. While you switch between "moral basis" and absolute "morality", I don't think they are equivalent.

          "...(though I'd think we've already established that)"

          I disagree. Nowhere have we established an absolute morality.

          "'what i do in my bedroom... is none of their dam(n) business'"

          That was never intended to be the entire argument, as @Snow and others have clarified.

          c) I'm not certain that I understand your point. I'm not saying "...not being harmed? on a moral basis.", especially since you are claiming that a "moral basis is necessarily absolute".
          What I'm saying is that I don't think other people's se.xual behavior should concern anyone else, at least not based solely on that behavior, provided it is between consenting adults. Other behavior however, such as kidna.pping, r.a.pe, torture, etc., i.e. harm, is ethically wrong, at least in our current society.

          d) When I said, "Is @Snow's statement based on moral, ethical, values? Yes."
          I was simply saying that it was a statement about ethical behavior, but not necessarily based on a system of absolute morality.
          I don't really follow your itemized points. What contentions fail by what test? What is meant by "calls those things out"?

          e) I will say that I don't think the Nazis committed a crime against nature, or some "absolute" evil. They did commit a heinous atrocity and crimes against humanity. Our society, humanity, considers what was done to be unacceptable in the extreme.

          I don't think anyone is claiming privacy is an absolute cover under which 'anything goes', but in our current society individuals do have a limited right to privacy. Just as the community has a limited right infringe on that privacy, but usually only if there is reasonable susp.icion of *illegal* activity. However, there is no right of the community to infringe in case of *immoral* activity (unless of course "immoral" is codified as "illegal").

          July 30, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ME II:
          a) "radical" literally means "to the root." that's why i said "pure" individualism elsewhere. individualism focuses on the individual at the expense of (as a greater priority than) the community. that's simply what he says here: it's "none of their dam(n) business." i'm not taking anyone out of context. it's simply what he says. consent or not is immaterial to the point that this is individualism.

          b) here you are getting into the underlying issue of morality... one's metaphysical presuppositions. philosophically speaking, that's what underlies "morality" – even in naturalism. i'm not using those terms interchangeably, but to point at this underlying appeal which *everyone* makes.

          when i said "though I think we've already established that" I was talking about *my* belief that morality is necessarily absolute – not that everyone agrees with my belief. go back & read the sentence prior to that statement again.

          you said "that was never intended to be the entire argument" (about "none of their dam(n) business" / individualism), but that's to ignore that i had already pointed out how the other components of Snow's arguments were not germane for this quote – including the supposed concern of "consent." it IS our concern in so many other cases as a society. and that's why the argument fails on multiple levels.

          c) you said "i don't think other people's se.xual behavior should concern anyone else." at least your honest... but do you see how that's assuming the entire debate here? you are making an assumption about what morality is – when that is the very thing under debate. you continue to delineate what is & is not harm as though that answers the debate, not realizing that you've already assumed the very thing under debate.

          most clearly, you say "other behavior... ,i.e. harm, is ethically wrong..." – but you are basing that on your definitions of morality. and that's the whole point. you're saying: "it's ok. why? b/c it's moral. based on what? b/c it's ok."

          d) you don't have to agree with me about absolute morality to admit you are basing it upon morality. and that's what we're debating. it's circular, as i pointed out above, unless you have something deeper to which you are appealing.

          my itemized points (assuming you mean i,ii,iii,etc.) were simply direct responses to your string in the corresponding prior reply you made. i was just responding to you in order.

          "your contentions fail" by your own test: you agreed that privacy doesn't trump unethical behavior – but we disagree on what is and is not ethical. at which point you appeal yet again to privacy/individualism? that's failing your own previous statement. if it's unethical, it DOES harm, and mutual consent DOES NOT matter at that point.

          morality calls "those things out" – those things it shows to be immoral.

          e) you've avoided my assertion. so it's a crime NOW, but in the future... it might not be? your approach here means you must be open to societal evolution, which means allowing that the Nazis might have been 'ahead of their time', maybe even morally. so how can you judge them? if "our culture" deems their acts atrocities, but another culture doesn't... after all, their own immediate culture didn't. or is morality in the hands of those who win the military wars?

          again, your disdain for horrible crimes does not match your relativistic claims. either sometimes such 'atrocities' can be ok, or they are always horrible. which is it? do you believe in absolute morality (pedophilia is ALWAYS wrong) or not (maybe sometimes it's ok)? you can't have it both ways.

          July 30, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
        • ME II

          I think I answered much of this in the reply above. If not let me know.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Snow

      Begging your pardon folks, I should have been more clear.. I meant "... what they [consenting adults] want in their own bedrooms..."

      Really, it did not even occur in my mind that some people would link it to kidnap and rape and what ever other illegal things people are dreaming out of it..

      why did that occur to you as the first thought, Russ? what kind of darkness do you hide in your heart that you are trying to mask over with your bible?

      July 29, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
      • Russ

        @ Snow: either you haven't read the rest of the thread, or you are re-narrating.

        a) as i said above, i purposefully chose an incendiary example to draw out your self-contradictory statement. your claim that it's "none of their business" does not hold up across multiple scenarios (including your own obvious disgust with Castro). it's a purely individualistic statement – which you clearly don't want applied that way in the case of Castro.

        it is in the interest of the human community – and you ARE concerned what others think. why else comment on a blog? if it's really no one else's business, why feel the need to make it everyone's business on a blog like this?

        b) even what two "consenting adults" do in "their own bedroom" still has problems. what about doctor assisted suicide? mutual homicide? again, the primary issue is the underlying moral basis – not "are they consenting?"

        c) read what i wrote above. i needed someone to die for me. yes, i need a Savior. i'm not masking that – i readily admit it.
        but no, that's not why i thought of Castro. i thought of him because of it's a clear example of why your "privacy" argument fails. it IS everyone's business – as was evidenced by the broad media coverage.

        d) we are a human community. not just a "mind your own dam(n) business" aggregate of individuals. the notion that "what i do in private" is ok as long as it's private fails a test of consistency (i.e., Castro).
        the notion that "consenting adults" makes it ok fails also fails (i.e., euthanasia, killing each other).
        to say (as many have) "as long as it doesn't harm..." is the very thing under debate. that's begging the question.

        July 29, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
        • myweightinwords

          Your argument breaks down when we look at Castro's actions.

          His "private bedroom" acts that you are trying to compare to two consensual adults engaging in intercourse, begins first and foremost with an illegal and immoral act, namely kidnapping. That act negates his right to privacy with regard to anything that follows. Compounding his immorality and illegality is the issue of consent.

          Your attempt at comparing his reprehensible actions to two people engaging in sexual relations falls apart.

          July 30, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
        • Russ

          @ weight: i responded to you above.

          July 30, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
  11. KC

    I'm Protestant and I'm kinda liking this Pope.

    July 29, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  12. geraldine drewlo

    You are, because God says so.

    July 29, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      "you are because god said so"
      Which is a weird catch 22 since men created god in the first place.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      Existimo ergo Deus me fecit?

      July 29, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  13. fsjunkie

    Who are you? Ummm...you're the Pope. You're either in or you're out. (no pun intended)

    July 29, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  14. Lilith

    "Pope Francis's brief comment on gays reveals great mercy,"
    Gays, divorcees and women don't need mercy ... they simply need to be treated equally as human beings.
    It's sad that it took a Pope this long to even make this minor statement.

    July 29, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  15. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    Finally a bit of common sense coming from a church leader ... a step toward the inevitable disappearance of deity based religion.

    July 29, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • niknak

      He will not last long espousing views like this.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
      • Michael J.

        "Not last long"? What does that even mean? Is he going to get impeached? Is someone going to throw him out of office? Is someone going to put a bullet through his head? What?

        July 29, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • fsjunkie

      That would be like the head of PETA suddenly saying circuses are ok. I don't have an opinion either way...other than live and let live...but, i'm not the Pope. This guy just needs to get a talk show or something...or start his own church.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
      • JP

        It's pretty simple really. Faced with declining church attendance and mass rejection of using the bible to justify hatred by the younger generation the church is forced to update its stance on social issues. They can either hold the line and become obsolete in a few generations or modernize somewhat and declare simply that it's god's problem to judge these folks and not ours.

        As an atheist, I see the cherry picking that goes on in order to try to keep religion relevant, but still, if a billion Catholics suddenly start accepting that it's not their place to be judgmental, I'm good with that.

        July 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  16. Lauradet

    He is right. Who is he to judge when the Romans in Italy have been bending little boys over and packing them with sausage for eons. The Catholic Church is filled with gay men, so nope why should he judge.

    July 29, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • niknak

      There are just as many gay men in all the other religions too.
      And just as many pedo philes.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Indra Faulkner

      What a sick comment. Yes, there have been corrupt priests but they do not represent the entire church and what the church stands for. If we were to look at the mistakes in your life, should we then label your entire family or pass judgement because of your mistakes. Every faith has bad corrupt leaders, the media likes to single out the Catholic church..

      July 29, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
      • lionlylamb

        Though the talents of good wheeler dealers have need of many spokes, there are many cracks and crevices to be navigated and the rims are ever in need of rubbery consistencies in order for the journeys onward cyclical cycling to ever be ridden in onward motions of stable continuations... Life therefore needs a path for to be followed and while many paths are ventured upon, the main road is found out to be one best paved...


        July 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  17. mauiohana808

    Amen to the Pope and everyone worldwide!!!
    Aloha 🙂

    July 29, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  18. aallen333

    The Catholic church issues positions on moral issues facing its congregation all the time. If it did not, it would have no reason to exist. The scripture makes it clear where it stands concerning sins such as adultery, abortion (yes, scripture addresses abortion which is nothing less than the taking of l-fe regardless of how you try to spin it), and yes, scripture addresses the sin of hom-s-xuality. The churches role is to speak the truth in love. If it does not because it does not want to offend, it will soon become irrelevant to the Son who birthed. Christ made it CLEAR that if you are offended at Him and His Word (Jesus is the Word made flesh which includes the Old Testament), so too will He be offended at you when He comes in His Glory with the Holy angels. The Church had better be careful to remember it is here to be salt and light to the world around it. If the salt loses its flavor and the light is darkened so that it does not stand out too starkly in a dark world, it becomes good for neither itself or those searching for its light for guidance.

    July 29, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "Jesus is the Word made flesh which includes the Old Testament"
      If you adhere to all the ridiculous proscriptions in Leviticus, I'll eat my poly-cotton blended shirt.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Stevie49

      The scripture is also quite clear about what to do with cities who allow atheists. Kill everyone and then burn the town down. Time to lock and load, I guess.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Stevie49

      The scripture is also quite clear about what to do with cities who allow atheists. Kill everyone and then burn the town down. Time to lock and load, I guess.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Jim8

      He's a Catholic, and judging others is what they do.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Merrillee

      No, Scripture does not address abortion, unless it is to give the formula to induce one.
      Sorry, but your views on abortion are not Biblically based, and you are wrong.

      You should be very careful who you judge; I will venture a guess that you do not follow every commandment God gave in the OT.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Observer


      Why do you usually run away rather than stick around to answer questions? We can guess the reason.

      July 30, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  19. SV

    Oh how I wish I could have been there when Rick Santorum read what The Pope had to say. He probably got all kinds of frothy.

    July 29, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  20. likeafrogonastove

    One more reason to remain a Protestant.

    July 29, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Paul

      Just not happy about the inadequate level of hate being expressed towards your fellow human beings? Yeah, that's tough for christians. Jesus would have been mad, too.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
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About this blog

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.