Pope Francis: Church could support civil unions
Pope Francis speaks at St Peter's square on December 11, 2013.
March 5th, 2014
10:04 AM ET

Pope Francis: Church could support civil unions

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(CNN) - Pope Francis reaffirmed the Catholic Church's opposition to gay marriage on Wednesday, but suggested in a newspaper interview that it could support some types of civil unions.

The Pope reiterated the church's longstanding teaching that "marriage is between a man and a woman." However, he said, "We have to look at different cases and evaluate them in their variety."

States, for instance, justify civil unions as a way to provide economic security to cohabitating couples, the Pope said in a wide-ranging interview published Wednesday in Corriere della Seraan Italian daily. State-sanctioned unions are thus driven by the need to ensure rights like access to health care, Francis added.

A number of Catholic bishops have supported civil unions for same-sex couples as an alternative to marriage, including Pope Francis when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2010, according to reports in National Catholic Reporter and The New York Times.

Behind closed doors, pope supported civil unions in Argentina, activist says

But Wednesday's comments are "the first time a Pope has indicated even tentative acceptance of civil unions," according to Catholic News Service.

Later on Wednesday, a Vatican spokesman sought to clarify the Pope's remarks.

"The Pope did not choose to enter into debates about the delicate matter of gay civil unions," said the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a consultant to the Vatican press office.

"In his response to the interviewer, he emphasized the natural characteristic of marriage between one man and one woman, and on the other hand, he also spoke about the obligation of the state to fulfill its responsibilities towards its citizens."

"We should not try to read more into the Pope’s words than what has been stated in very general terms," Rosica added.

Pope Francis, who marks his first year in office on March 13, has sought to set a more tolerant tone for his 1 billion-member church and suggested that a broad range of topics are at least open for discussion.

In January, the Pope recalled a little girl in Buenos Aires who told her teacher that she was sad because "my mother's girlfriend doesn't like me."

"The situation in which we live now provides us with new challenges which sometimes are difficult for us to understand," the Pope told leaders of religious orders, adding that the church "must be careful not to administer a vaccine against faith to them."

The Vatican later denied that those comments signaled an opening toward same-sex unions.

Last June, Francis famously refused to judge gay priests in comments that ricocheted around the world. He has also said that the church should not "interfere" in the spiritual lives of gays and lesbians.

Pope Francis' greatest hits of 2013

Support of same-sex unions of any type is fiercely contested by many Catholic church leaders.

In Wednesday's interview, Francis also addressed several other controversial issues, including the Catholic Church's ban on contraception, the role of women and the devastating clergy sexual abuse scandal.

On contraception, the Pope praised Pope Paul VI for having the "courage" to "go against the majority" when restating the ban in 1968. But, Francis said, the church must also be "merciful" and "attentive to concrete situations."

Contraception and church's ban on divorced Catholics receiving holy communion, will likely be addressed at major meetings of Catholic bishops in Rome in 2014 and 2015.

“We must give a response. But to do so, we must reflect much in depth,” the Pope said Wednesday.

On the role of women in the church, an issue of particular concern to Catholics in the United States, the Pope hinted that changes could be in the works.

"Women must be present in all of the places where decisions are taken," Francis said in the newspaper interview, but the church must consider more than "functional" roles for women. To that end, Catholic leaders are engaged in "deep reflection" on women's role in the church, he said.

On the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy, a scandal that has rocked the church in the United States, the Pope said the abuse has left "very deep wounds" on victims.

In response, the church has done more than other institutions to be open and transparent about sexual abuse by its employees, Francis said. “But the Church is the only one to be attacked."

A United Nations panel criticized Catholic leaders last month in a hard-hitting report on clergy sexual abuse.

The report said the Vatican "has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators.”

The Vatican said it would study the U.N. report.

Kick out those who sexually abuse children, U.N. panel tells Vatican

On Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who has surprised church-watchers with public appearances after saying he would live a cloistered life in retirement, Francis said he considers his predecessor a "wise grandfather."

"The Pope Emeritus is not a statue in a museum," Pope Francis said. Rather, the two men have decided that Benedict should participate in the church's public life rather than live a shuttered life.

"I thought about grandparents who with their wisdom, their advice, strengthen families and don't deserve to end up in an old folks home," Francis said.

Finally, he may sometimes wear a cape, but don't call Pope Francis a Superman, the popular pontiff said.

"To paint the Pope as a sort of Superman, a kind of star, seems offensive to me," Francis told Corriere della Sera. "The Pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps soundly and has friends like everyone else. A normal person."

Earlier this year, graffiti depicting a muscle-bound and flying Francis appeared on walls near Vatican City, but the Pope said Wednesday that he doesn't like the "mythology" surrounding his papacy, which marks its first anniversary on March 13.

For instance, Francis debunked the idea that he sneaks out of the Vatican at night to feed the homeless.

"It never occurred to me," he said.

(CNN's Delia Gallagher assisted in translating Pope Francis' remarks from the Italian.) 

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Culture wars • Discrimination • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis • Vatican

soundoff (3,591 Responses)
  1. Austin

    @ AKIRA
    The catholic claim of a vicor . The pope claims to be.Christ on earth with the power to forgive men's sins.

    Find me.a.verse in the new testament to justify this.

    March 8, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
    • Akira

      Show me where this post has claimed this. Thanks.

      March 8, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
    • Akira

      Matter of fact, show me where any contemporary pope has claimed to be Jesus.

      March 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
  2. Reality

    Catholics/Christians have been th-umping/repeating the mostly fictional story of Jesus for about 2000 years. The th-umping has been getting quieter for the last 200 years when we "pew sitters" started our own reviews of said life and found significant flaws in the scriptural accounts. Hopefully, the truth through repeti-tion of said flaws will take no more than another 50 years to finally "deflaw" the current orthodoxy.

    March 8, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
    • Austin

      I received.the call to faith from the holy spirit like many other people who have received gifts.

      March 8, 2014 at 3:45 pm |
      • Akira

        How do you know it's not satanically inspired demons whispering?

        March 8, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
      • Reality

        Gifts? Again, look up the definition of hallucination.

        March 8, 2014 at 10:48 pm |
    • new-man

      you actually do serve a purpose... all men through testing will reveal what he's laid upon the foundation that is Christ. If it's hay, stubble, wood – these will be burnt away.
      If its gold, silver – these will be purified and remain.
      So while you may take pride in what your doing, remember a man's pride is also the source of his greatest weakness.


      March 8, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
      • new-man

        your (doing) = you're

        March 8, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
  3. new-man

    bostonola: "1. That was not a criterion set by Yahweh. 2. That story is after the fact in the NT, why not believe Joseph Smith is a prophet as told in another after the fact book? "

    Some believed Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. Some were undecided, not sure what to make of Him and what He taught. Others—the religious powers of the day—felt threatened. They had no doubt that Jesus was a “teacher come from God” (John 3:2). They witnessed the mighty miracles He performed and were amazed by their effects. They admitted among themselves, “No man can do these…except God be with him”.

    But the scribes and Pharisees refused to believe that Jesus was the Christ—that He had divine authority. They were righteous in their own eyes, measuring their righteousness by how well they observed minute, manmade laws and traditions, which unnecessarily made the Way of God seem burdensome. Since Jesus did not “measure up” to their idea of righteousness, they concluded He could not have been Christ—and they were more than willing to lie against, slander, and falsely accuse Him, and even plot His murder!


    March 8, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
    • otoh2

      "They witnessed the mighty miracles He performed and were amazed by their effects. They admitted among themselves, “No man can do these…except God be with him”."

      Same thing that the Benny Hinn, Peter Popoff, etc. audiences say...

      March 8, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
      • new-man

        I don't know or have heard of Peter Po..
        but yes, God is with Benny Hinn. I'm sure he's baptized in the Holy Ghost and in fire – that's why he can do the things he does.
        I'm sure he's never professed to be Christ.

        March 8, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
  4. Austin


    Nice job using the scriptures . keep it up brother.

    March 8, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
    • Doris

      Some people take up macrame. Which verifies about as much about our existence as ancient scriptures.....

      March 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
      • Austin

        Doris. I love you.

        March 8, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      What exactly do you think you prove by posting scripture? Do you enjoy the constant belittling?
      You just don't care and that is truly sad. You live only to die so that you can go to this place called heaven...this life means diddly to you, it's merely a stepping stone to the supposed next one. As a result of this lifestyle you have chosen and the lies you have been fed, you mistreat others. A simple read of that book is enough to say it isn't worthy of being followed. You think we're blind but yet all evidence is against you. Some of us happen to care that what we believe in and how we live our lives in accordance to those beliefs, is based on hard evidence...evidence that you don't have on your side (your testimony, the bible, the testimony of a trillion man will still not prove your god). People envision things all the time...you're not so special.
      You speak out against gays but yet on a personal level, outside of your belief, you have no reason to justify your hate for them. You somehow think that your belief in this god gives you some power to tell others how to live...can we come in to your personal home and tell you what to do??
      Posting scripture is futile, just as posting your delusions is...both are laughable at best and both a giant turn off for people ho may be questioning their beliefs.
      Learn some respect!

      March 8, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
      • new-man

        a testimony is actually evidence.

        testimony (n) – evidence based on observation or knowledge.
        2. an outward sign
        3. a solemn declaration made by a witness under oath especially in a court

        March 8, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Very good new man. However in this sense it isn't backed. You can get twenty eye witnesses to something and be guaranteed that their stories will vary...the stories in the bible are contradictory and we have scientific data showing many to be false.

          March 8, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
        • Akira

          How is pasting Bible verses testimony?
          I mean, I really don't care if one c/p them all the live long day, but that's not testimony. It's c/p. And that isn't included in the definition you just posted.and if it is out loud, it's memorization, not testimony.

          March 8, 2014 at 3:50 pm |
        • new-man

          if you write/copy-paste the testimony of others, does that negate the testimony they had?

          March 8, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
        • Akira

          Yes, if the original stories were handed down through oral traditions. Because that is hearsay, and not admissible.

          March 8, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
  5. Austin

    Akira, own up to this bible verse and use the bible to explain the understanding of this one verse.
    1 Timothy 2:5 ►

    For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.

    now if you get a dictionary and define the words "one" what does that mean?
    and what does "mediator" mean
    what does "between" mean?

    was Jesus all ready in heaven when this verse was written?
    So what does this mean then that this is telling you about what you should do?

    March 8, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
    • Doris

      Austin – once again exercising the fundy method of Inquiry and Verification:




      March 8, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
    • Austin

      akira, sorry if i sound agressive.

      but the points that we make are just obviously written in stone and what is written is what is God. not a tradition of men or a religion that evolved .

      Revelation 19:13 ►

      He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.

      John 1 ►

      The Word Became Flesh

      1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcomea it.

      what does "the word became flesh mean. whos name is "the word of God. "

      why is that Christs name? ..................."The Word of God"

      because the bible is the written manifestation of God!!!
      Jesus is the incarnation of God.......an expression of eternal forgiveness or love.

      March 8, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
      • the0g0to0the0t

        You are basing your understanding on the English definition of these words. "Word" in John was "Logos" – a Greek philosophical term. KJV is not your friend Austin...

        March 9, 2014 at 11:33 am |
    • Akira

      So? What does that have to do with anything I've posted? Really, try and make some sense. You appear to have Tourette's Bible, where you just blurt a verse out involuntarily.

      March 8, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
      • Austin

        If Jesus says He wrote the bible, then why do you act offended that Ranier takes it literally? why is that bigotry?

        and most important, why do you call him a liar ? all he has done is abide in the word of God.

        that is a discipline of obedience. its nothing he does as a addition to what the bible says.

        March 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
        • Austin

          how can you take the verse about one mediator between God and man and then expect us non catholics to pray to mary or not be offended that catholics do that?

          that does not count as bigotry when we can show you the verse that opposes praying to anything other than one mediator because one mediator means that you should only pray to one mediator.

          it is written. Is it not written? Yes , it is,was , and always will be written .

          March 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
        • Doris

          how can you take the verse about one mediator between my make-believe friend and man and then expect us non catholics to pray to mary or not be offended that catholics do that?

          (There – I fixed that sentence for you.)

          March 8, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
        • Akira

          Rain is a hypocrite. He steals every time he makes an appearance here.
          He is a bigot in his hatred of a whole bunch of people.
          He does not literally live Biblically, and neither do you, for you share in his contempt for 1.2 billion Christians.

          He is not here to glorify God.

          Take THAT literally.

          March 8, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
        • Akira

          How can anyone take a bigot seriously?
          I don't.
          You can rationalize it any famed way you want, but you, Austin, are a religious bigot.

          March 8, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
    • Reality

      As noted many times, the Timothy epistles were not written by Paul and therefore have no "divine" guidance" .

      March 8, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
  6. Doris

    “The problem with religion, because it's been sheltered from criticism, is that it allows people to believe en masse what only idiots or lunatics could believe in isolation.” –Sam Harris


    March 8, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
  7. Austin

    if you want proof of God, dont go to church. Ask for the holy spirit. Go boldly straight through Jesus to the throne of grace, because He is your priest now and forever. and He is the one with the power to forgive you and love you supernaturally.

    Oh, what a Savior you are Jesus. Your name is above all names.

    March 8, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
    • Doris

      Oh by all means, be a sect of one. You get to pick out rules that make you the most comfy! The groups that follow Gullible's Travels do the same, so you can too all by yourself! You might even wind up like Charles Manson if you try hard enough! Be all the Bible Thumper you can be!

      March 8, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
    • derado8

      Theory of mind is a theory insofar as the mind is not directly observable.[1] The presumption that others have a mind is termed a theory of mind because each human can only intuit the existence of his/her own mind through introspection, and no one has direct access to the mind of another.

      March 8, 2014 at 6:05 pm |
  8. Austin

    Hebrews 4
    14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,f Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

    1 Timothy 2:5 ►

    For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,

    Hebrews 10

    New International Version (NIV)
    Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All

    10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

    5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

    “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
    but a body you prepared for me;
    6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you were not pleased.
    7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
    I have come to do your will, my God.’”[a]

    8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

    11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

    15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:

    16 “This is the covenant I will make with them
    after that time, says the Lord.
    I will put my laws in their hearts,
    and I will write them on their minds.”[b]

    17 Then he adds:

    “Their sins and lawless acts
    I will remember no more.”[c]

    18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
    A Call to Persevere in Faith

    19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

    26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”[e] 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

    March 8, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
    • Doris

      Your imaginary friend is way too high-maintenance for more and more of the world each day. In this information age, people are not as gullible as you, Austin – you should be worried....

      March 8, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
      • Austin

        your process of selective gathering of information lands you smack dab into your own cult. and your rejection of peoples testimony puts you in the boat of a bigot and spiritual racist.

        March 8, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
        • Akira


          March 8, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
  9. Doris

    I guess when Pope Benedict accepted the Christmas gift from Uganda's senate representative that they would "kill all the gays" in Uganda, I think that speaks a lot to the result we see today – widespread panic and fear for ho-mose-xuals living in Uganda, knowing that they can be jailed or killed at any time since this recent bill passed there. I think it also is very telling about Catholicism – I mean if you start from the top down...

    I suppose when the only Anglican bishop that was making a difference to quell hysteria and fears there over gays was stripped of his position, that only contributed to the same hysteria we see today. I think that is also very telling about Anglicanism.. if you start from the top down….

    I suppose when Scott Lively and his team of evangelicals from the U.S. traveled to Uganda and incited hysteria and violence against gays, that had a lot to do with the situation we see today. That's a bit different. There doesn't seem to be a "top" of evangelicals. And so we just see more divisions, more conflict of interpretation, more difference in judgment upon one another.

    Why should we be at all surprised at what is going on in Uganda and elsewhere?

    Has the new pope publicly expressed his view of the crimes against humanity in Uganda in the same personal way that Benedict did? I'm not impressed by complacency when people are dying, being jailed and committing suicide in large parts of Africa and elsewhere because of an uneducated stance on hom-ose-xuality from alleged "righteousness".

    "Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth." –Thomas Jefferson

    One poster adds "even worse than these laws were signed is that they were instigated by US evangelicals, who having failed with their anti-gay hatred in the US, are now spreading it in sub-Saharan Africa."


    Another poster added : "What's even worse is the common practice of correctional ra.p.e, where they will ra.p.e someone so that they will no longer be gay. Often this is done by gangs and the victim sometimes dies."

    March 8, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
  10. bostontola

    Why do some Christians judge other Christians?

    March 8, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
    • Austin

      why are there words such as exhortation and admonish or repent, or rebuke? or forgiveness?

      or disobedience? or apostacy?

      March 8, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
      • Doris

        To control people through fear. This is becoming more and more evident to people – especially the young in this information age. You might want to get the Bible out of your azz and start paying attention, Austin.

        March 8, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
  11. Doris

    “Theology is ignorance with wings.”

    “You are using your own moral intuitions to authenticate the wisdom of the Bible – and then, in the next moment, you assert that we human beings cannot possibly rely upon our own intuitions to rightly guide us in the world.”


    March 8, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
  12. Doris

    Why do some Christians from the U.S. travel to other countries and incite violence against people?

    Why do some Christians officially categorizes the Pope as the Antichrist?

    Why do some Christians help spread disease (because of the unrealistic stance on contraception)?

    Why do some Christians let sick child die rather than seek medical care?

    Why do some Christians treat women still as inferiors in their organization?

    Why do some Christians still sacrifice people?

    Why do some Christians believe that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri?

    Why do some Christians believe that Americans are being killed at war because America is tolerant of homosexuals?

    Why do some Christians believe the OT is superseded by the NT and some not?

    March 8, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
  13. Doris

    Why is it that many Christians ignore science?

    Why do some of them tell two different stories at the same time (even selling them) about science?

    Why do they travel to other places and incite violence against other people?

    Why do they promote the jailing of people or remain complacent about their fellow Christians who do the same?

    Why does the Anglican Communion demote the one person who tried to quell the violence against people in Uganda?

    Why are they not listening to people from the National Institutes of Health?

    Why do they ignore biologists?

    === for instance =====================================


    The following is from the article:

    Homosexuality ultimately a result of gene regulation, researchers find (12/11/2012 – LiveScience)

    [ The search for a "gay gene" may be off-target, new research finds. Another process called epigenetics that switches genes on and off may explain why homosexuality runs in families.

    Epigenetics are heritable changes caused by factors other than DNA. Instead of traits getting passed down through the genes, epigenetic change happens because of the way genes are regulated, or turned on and off.

    These genetic regulators may be the reason homosexuality persists in nature despite the fact that gay people are less likely to reproduce, suggests the new study published in the [Dec, 2012] journal The Quarterly Review of Biology.

    "These things have evolved because they're good for the parents, but they sometimes, not [with] high frequency, but sometimes carry over" into offspring, study researcher William Rice, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told LiveScience. In a male fetus, Rice and his colleagues write, an epigenetic change that benefited the mother may lead to "feminization" of sexual preference — homo- or bisexuality. The same may be true for epigenetic changes passed down by dad to a female fetus. (The terms feminization and masculinization of sexual preference refer to sexual orientation only — not to physical or personality traits of the offspring.)

    The findings add to past research suggesting gay men haven't died out, because female relatives of gay men tend to have more children on average than other females. The study researchers specifically found that two genes passed on through the maternal line could produce this effect.

    Hormones, epigenetics and orientation

    Rice and his colleagues focused on epi-marks, which are molecular changes that act like temporary "switches" to turn genes on and off. If a gene is a blueprint, the epi-mark is the construction foreman who makes sure the product gets built. An epi-mark also determines when, where and how much a gene is expressed, according to the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis.

    These molecular switches are usually erased very early in the developmental process, but they can be passed down from generation to generation, too, Rice said.

    Some epi-marks are particularly important during fetal development, when they promote normal physical development in the sexes despite natural variations in testosterone during pregnancy. Researchers know that fetal exposure to too much testosterone can masculinize the genitals, brain or behavior of a genetically female fetus. Likewise, too little testosterone can make a genetically male fetus more feminized.

    But here's the catch: There's lots of overlap between the levels of testosterone male and female fetuses get exposed to. That means there must be another side to the story, Rice and his colleagues wrote.

    That side appears to be epigenetics, Rice said.

    "Early in development, we think these epi-marks are laid down so that girl fetuses will be relatively insensitive to testosterone and male fetuses will be relatively sensitive to testosterone," Rice said.

    Biological behavior

    Thus, if an epi-mark that kept a mother from getting exposed to high testosterone in development gets passed on to her son — the opposite sex — it could desensitize him to testosterone, contributing to his sexual preference for men. Similarly, if a male-specific epi-mark from dad gets passed to a daughter, it could "masculinize" her sexual preference, making her more interested in women.

    These findings could explain why twin studies show that homosexuality runs in families, but no "gay gene" can be found, Rice said. In identical twins, there's about a 20 percent chance that if one twin is gay, the other will be too. If genetic change were responsible for homosexuality, you'd expect a much higher match, Rice said. Epigenetics, however, can explain the heritability without the need for a specific genetic change.

    The hypothesis could be tested by examining epigenetic marks in parents of kids with gay versus straight offspring, Rice said. There are, of course, concerns that this knowledge could be used by parents who want to avoid gay offspring, Rice said, but that concern already exists around certain hormonal conditions in utero, which are known to contribute to an increased chance of offspring being lesbians.

    "That cat's already out of the bag," Rice said. He added that an understanding of the biological underpinnings of homosexuality could help emphasize that same-sex behavior is not "unnatural."

    "In fact, it's a major part of the natural world," Rice said. Fourteen percent of Western gulls raise chicks in female-female pairs, he pointed out. And 8 percent of male sheep show zero interest in fertile ewes, but get sexually excited by other rams. ]

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


    The American Psychological Association states "there are probably many reasons for a person's sexual orientation and the reasons may be different for different people", and says most people's sexual orientation is determined at an early age. Research into how sexual orientation in males may be determined by genetic or other prenatal factors plays a role in political and social debates about homosexuality, and also raises concerns about genetic profiling and prenatal testing."

    Professor Michael King states: "The conclusion reached by scientists who have investigated the origins and stability of sexual orientation is that it is a human characteristic that is formed early in life, and is resistant to change. Scientific evidence on the origins of homosexuality is considered relevant to theological and social debate because it undermines suggestions that sexual orientation is a choice."

    The Royal College of Psychiatrists stated in 2007:

    "Despite almost a century of psychoanalytic and psychological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person's fundamental heterosexual or homosexual orientation. It would appear that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Sexual orientation is therefore not a choice."


    Whenever... preachers, instead of a lesson in religion, put [their congregation] off with a discourse on the Copernican system, on chemical affinities, on the construction of government, or the characters or conduct of those administering it, it is a breach of contract, depriving their audience of the kind of service for which they are salaried, and giving them, instead of it, what they did not want, or, if wanted, would rather seek from better sources in that particular art of science. –Thomas Jefferson

    March 8, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
  14. Doris

    Why don't we know who the authors of the Gospels were?

    Why is all the supernatural events in the Bible only backed up by hearsay "historians"?

    Why do people believe something that has been copied over and over with many errors?

    Why are there so much conflicted information in the Bible?

    Why is it when you point that out to people, they say you don't have the proper interpretation, when their interpretation has manifested itself as over 40,000 sects?

    Why do some sects travel to other countries and incite violence against people in the name of their particular interpretation?


    On January 24, 2013, the traveling exhibition Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible opened at the William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University.

    The keynote talk for the opening: "What Kind of a Text is the King James Bible? Manuscripts, Translation, and the Legacy of the KJV" was presented by Dr. Bart Ehrman, James A. Grey Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at UNC Chapel Hill (PhD, magna cum laude from Princeton Theological Seminary).

    March 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
  15. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    We face two issues today: The toleration of gay people and gay couples in the churches, and the legalisation of gay life-style in general civilian life.

    What is the more severe issue?

    Certainly, the toleration of gay people and gay couples in the churches.


    Gayness is a kind of fornication. According to the biblical evidence somebody who persistently commits fornication has to leave the Church. Persistant fornication indicates that someone has abandoned his faith in Jesus Christ. The Church is the place where believers dwell in unity. The Church is not the place where evildoers are allowed to dwell.

    1. Corinth. 5, 9-13

    I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

    This passage is clear eneough. There is no room for persistant evildoers in the church.

    Therefore it is a calamity that very many churches of today tolerate gayness in their midst. At any rate that is against God's declared will, and will cause his wrath. Never in history churches turned apostate like today. That could be a sign that Jesus will return soon in order to judge.

    Concerning the civil life:

    There must be a place where people which don't belong to the Church can orderly live (rather exist) together. The best state would be that all people belong to the Church through faith, the well organized City of God. But, as many people hesitate to join the Church, there must be an emergency-system where they can live (rather exist) as long as God's patience is waiting (for their conversion to Jesus). Yet, seemingly, according to the biblical evidence, even if this emergency-system, the place of patience with the sinners, becomes too evil, it can cause God's wrath. When the sinners become to bold, God can put an end to their system because he is the ruler of the whole universe, not only the Lord of the Church.

    Nevertheless, the more severe issue is the toleration of gayness within the churches.

    The pope tolerates mandatory celibacy. That promotes child abuse by Catholic priests.. Therefore the pope is as guilty as the clergy of the churches tolerating gayness in their midst.


    P.S.: The most satanic verse of the pope in the above article is the following:

    "The church should not "interfere" in the spiritual lives of gays and lesbians."

    By that sentence the pope implies that gays and lesbians could have a spiritual life, as if gayness and any legitimate faith in God could be compatible.

    The pope is really the forerunner of the Antichrist because he legalizes the sin. The pope presumes to give sinners the soul's health without demanding repentance. That is against God's will.

    God says: "Only sinners repenting and believing in Jesus will ever get into heaven."

    No gay human being will ever get into heaven without repentance and faith in Jesus.

    The pope is a liar. He is like a lamb that talks like a dragon.

    Leave the Catholic Church, join the Christian Church right now! Find Jesus!

    March 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Gotta love the rainman – common thief, hateful bigot, and pompous ass all in one package. Quite the over-achiever.

      March 8, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
    • Akira

      Liar. Bigot. Spammer. Ranier.
      Prideful. Theif.

      Dud I mention liar?

      March 8, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
  16. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    The most satanic verse of the pope in the above article is the following:

    "The church should not "interfere" in the spiritual lives of gays and lesbians."

    By that sentence the pope implies that gays and lesbians could have a spiritual life, as if gayness and any legitimate faith in God could be compatible.

    The pope is really the forerunner of the Antichrist because he legalizes the sin. The pope presumes to give sinners the soul's health without demanding repentance. That is against God's will. In fact the pope gives us the soul's death, death, death.

    God says: "Only sinners repenting and believing in Jesus will ever get into heaven."

    No gay human being will ever get into heaven without repentance and faith in Jesus.

    The pope is a liar. He is like a lamb that talks like a dragon.

    That is the forerunner of the Antichrist who justifies the sin, and denies that the Son of God incarnated in order to change us. Jesus has borne our sinful flesh or nature when he died for us on the cross. There is now a way to get set free. Jesus sacrifice was not just an atonement but he also died to set us free. The one who denies the releasing power of Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection is like somebody who denies that Jesus has incarnated at all.

    March 8, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
    • Austin

      amen brother.

      did you read the article about the pope taking the cross out of the casket. and then he asked the predesessor "give me half of your mercy" as if the dead predecessor gives spiritual gifts of the holy spirit?

      then he said that the pope "forgave the sins of all the other priests".

      WOW MAN. that is nuts.

      March 8, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
      • Doris

        Forgiveness of sins from one type of Christian to another is always allegedly against some "divine" truth that they claim to know. It's pretty obvious that they never agree with one another on such "truths", they cling to what makes them feel the most comfortable, what quells their fears....

        March 8, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
        • Austin

          are you against your individual personality? do a research study on the twelve tribes of Israel. Simeon Judah Naphtali Asher Gad Joseph Levi Isacchar Reuben Benjamin Zebulun,

          now check out the disciples and their personalities.

          Peter had a temper. ect.

          March 8, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
        • Doris

          Sure people are unique. It's the alleged "divine truths" that are more than questionable dufus.

          March 8, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
      • Akira

        Did you hear that Jesus had something to say to good "Christians" like you and Rain? It's called Mathew 7, verses 1 through, and especially, 5.

        March 8, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
    • Akira

      ♫♫♪♪ ♫♪
      "If I knew you were hatin' I'da baked a cake..."

      Liar. Bigot.

      You are not here to glorify Jesus and God. All you do is come on here and spew hate against Catholics and, in addition to religious bigotry, plain old predjuduce against gays.

      March 8, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
    • Akira

      "The most satanic verse of the pope in the above article is the following:" What he said was his opinion. What you write is your opinion. By your logic, your statements are also Satanusts verses.

      Freakin silly.

      March 8, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
  17. new-man

    b: "It wouldn't matter if every Jew regarded Jesus as God, he failed Yahweh's test. No after the fact NT verse can change that"

    It was for this very reason that I pointed out that you were not a Jew, because I didn't understand why you were using their standard when to me, you have clearly established within yourself (already) that Christ Jesus is not Messiah... and in essence do not need to have the bolstering of the belief of others.

    March 8, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
    • new-man

      this reply was posted below, but showed up here instead.

      March 8, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
    • Doris

      this is one of those argumentum ad populum things

      for a while there there was a bolstering of belief that bleeding people for all kinds of ailments was a good thing....

      March 8, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
    • bostontola

      Do you have to be a Jew to read the OT? The criteria was written specifically because there would be false messiahs (and there were many). The criteria was not va.gue or poetic, where interpretation would be needed. It was simple and directly verifiable. Jesus failed it.

      March 8, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
      • new-man

        of course not – anyone can read the OT.
        My point was just that you didn't have to cite them as part of your reasoning for why in your opinion Jesus is not the Messiah. That's why I said there are also many of them who believe Jesus is the Messiah – clearly you do not agree with these ones.
        So you do not believe (not based on whether some Jews believe Jesus is Messiah) but rather based on your own understanding of the " unfulfilled criteria."

        March 8, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
        • bostontola

          That wasn't part of the reasoning. You asked if anyone met the criteria, I said no. The Jew part was a consequence of no one ever having met the criteria.

          Back to the primary point, how can you worship Jesus when he failed the criteria defined by Yahweh?

          March 8, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
        • new-man

          Jesus is my Lord and King and I can worship Him with confidence because in my opinion He has fulfilled the criteria set by Yahweh.

          March 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
        • new-man

          The following was given to believers, but if there's anything there for you or someone else, I'll just go ahead and post it:

          The revelation of God is a progressive one.
          A progressive revelation that keeps on growing becomes burdensome when you have a lot of knowledge because when you have a lot of knowledge you have a lot of expectations and definitions of how things are supposed to be.

          When God starts to move, all you previous history with God can get in the way of what He's about to do next.
          This is perhaps why Jesus said, I have many things to share with you but you cannot bear them, nevertheless when the Spirit of truth comes, the Holy Spirit will lead you into all truths.

          Note: In case one wants to infer that believers are dissuaded from obtaining knowledge. This is someone one advises fortune500 companies on how to be more profitable after they've hit a ceiling; because that same knowledge they had before that got them to a certain point, usually prohibits them from advancing further.

          March 8, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
        • new-man

          if there's anything there for you or someone else to take away from it:
          you = your
          this is someone who advises

          March 8, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
      • new-man

        b: "It was simple and directly verifiable. Jesus failed it."

        To my knowledge, Christ Jesus is the only one who died was buried and resurrected on the third day.
        There is nothing poetic or v.a.g.u.e. about this; neither does it require an interpretation.

        March 8, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
        • bostontola

          1. That was not a criterion set by Yahweh.
          2. That story is after the fact in the NT, why not believe Joseph Smith is a prophet as told in another after the fact book?

          March 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
        • Austin

          bostontola, people like you will fall victim to worshipping the false messiah if you believe that Jesus failed the criteria.
          why would you say Jesus failed the criteria if you don't believe in the second coming or millineal kingdom as the fulfillment of the kingdom where Christ will fulfill the remaining promises?

          That is exploitation of the factor of time and promise.

          March 8, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
        • Doris

          Austin, people like you fall victim to believing in something that meets your needs, quells your fears...

          March 8, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
  18. bostontola

    Jesus did not meet the messiah criteria defined clearly by Yahweh. That is an indisputable fact.

    Some Christians use NT verses to paper over this fact. How can you accept a defense written after the fact of failure to justify ignoring Yahweh's criteria? Please don't say; Well Jesus still has time to fulfill the criteria. That would be the longest running check kiting scheme in history.

    Trusting an after the fact doc.ument like the OT is like trusting the Book of Mormon when it tells you that Joseph Smith is a prophet and all the other Mormon tenets are true.

    March 8, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
    • Doris

      True. One may just as well buy into the Joseph Smith, Witnesses & Friends, Inc. as buy into the claims of chatty cathy Saul of Tarsus...

      March 8, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
    • bostontola

      Meant to write NT, not OT.

      March 8, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
    • Austin

      you are full of crap.

      we are still alive so this means there is not future fulfillment.


      March 8, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
      • Doris

        Just your view Austin. The next crazy Bible Thumper says something different. Doesn't say much for the activity of Thumping......

        March 8, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
      • Akira

        So there won't be future fulfillment of Revelation?
        Do you even know what you are arguing about anymore? And why should anyone believe your own 'relevations' when you don't believe in the future fulfillment of Revelation?

        You're all over the board on your beliefs and interpretations, Austin. Calling boston "full of crap" when your own beliefs are in question seems rather hypocritical.

        March 8, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
  19. new-man

    What did God have in mind when He said, go and make disciples of nations?

    We are to manifest the kingdom of God in our assigned sphere – family, church, education, media, government, business, arts.
    Every nation will have a demonstration of the gospel of the kingdom, where so far we've given them a demonstration of the gospel of salvation.
    Give your children a vision of the land God is about to give them.

    Remember every form of culture has the capacity to glorify God or to rebel against God.

    Fr: Lance Wallnau

    March 8, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
    • Doris

      "Remember every form of culture has the capacity to glorify God or to rebel against God."

      Why create an imaginary friend if you're just going to always consider it the "high-maintenance" type.

      March 8, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
  20. new-man

    Jesus preached the good news of the kingdom of God:

    For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

    7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

    March 8, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
    • bostontola

      Too bad he failed to meet the messiah criteria Yahweh defined.

      March 8, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
      • new-man

        Since in your judgment, Christ Jesus failed the "criteria Yahweh defined", perhaps you could share with me who in your opinion met the defined criteria.

        March 8, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
        • bostontola

          No one has, that's why there are still Jews.

          March 8, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
        • bostontola

          If a messiah had come and fulfilled the criteria, the world be at peace, the temple would be rebuilt, the whole world would recognize the not true God. None of that happened yet.

          March 8, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
        • new-man

          I understand your point. However, you are not a Jew. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

          11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
          12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
          Even the above Scripture is a fulfillment of prophecy of Messiah = Christ Jesus.

          I should point out that there are many Jews who do believe that Christ Jesus is the Messiah.

          March 8, 2014 at 1:31 pm |
        • bostontola

          It wouldn't matter if every Jew regarded Jesus as God, he failed Yahweh's test. No after the fact NT verse can change that.

          March 8, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
        • new-man

          I know that Fred & others have explained to you and others numerous times that the points you mentioned were fulfilled; I don't believe there is anything I can add to it that will give you deeper insight or revelation... but I'll say what I know lest I be accused of dodging the issue.

          Peace: The peace of God – Shalom is a complete wholeness in mind, soul, body. Right now, until Jesus returns peace is not the absence of conflict- it's having peace in the midst of conflict. I know this point seems almost redundant to the carnal mind, but until one experiences such a peace – a peace that surpasses all understanding- just having it explained or described will never be enough.
          Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

          March 8, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
        • Doris

          "Scripture is a fulfillment of prophecy of Messiah = Christ Jesus."

          You didn't think they would be dumb enough to make the sequel to Gullible's Travels Part 1 not match up at all, did you?

          March 8, 2014 at 1:41 pm |
        • bostontola

          No, the criteria was not met, it was clear and clearly not met. Those tortured rationalizations are not credible.

          March 8, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
        • Austin

          bostontola takes a historically accurate process of prophetic fulfillment and demands that its false because it isn't over and done with?

          that isn't even remotely intelligent.

          March 8, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
        • Doris

          "historically accurate process of prophetic fulfillment"


          March 8, 2014 at 2:32 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.