At Carnegie Mellon, “Naked Pope” Tosses Condoms Into Crowd (UPDATED)

Costumed in papal vestments, naked from the waist down with a cross shaved into her pubic hair, a Carnegie Mellon University student tossed condoms into the crowd. 

“It’s all in good fun,” said one of her fellow students who was present and who saw the woman in the school’s annual art school parade on April 18.  “It’s not meant to harm anyone.”

Bishop David Zubik disagrees.  The bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where CMU’s 4th Annual “Anti-Gravity Downhill Derby” occurred, was quick to condemn the demonstration, calling it “inappropriate and disrespectful.”

Bishop Zubik has called for the university to address the disrespect shown toward Catholics and the papacy.  “We all know that when we’re growing up, we do stupid things,” Bishop Zubik said.  “But to cross over the line in this instance shouldn’t happen with anybody.”

Random photos from the art school parade. (No photo is available of the “nude pope”.)

The Diocese has asked Carnegie Mellon University to take action to discipline the student.  As of this writing, CMU has not announced what action, if any, will be taken.  The university issued a statement saying, in part, “We are continuing our review of the incident. If our community standards or laws were violated, we will take appropriate action.”

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A couple of quick observations regarding the so-called “community standards”:

RESTRICTIONS ON PUBLIC NUDITY.  Public nudity is always against community standards.  Small children and conservative seniors could not have avoided the woman as this sideshow passed their homes at 3:00 in the afternoon.  Even on television, nudity is prohibited because it violates the religious or cultural sensibilities of private citizens.  Nude beaches are limited and age-restricted to protect the rights of citizens.

RESPECT FOR RELIGION.  The disrespect shown toward the Catholic Church would never be tolerated, were it directed instead toward Muslims, Jews or minorities; and it should not be tolerated when directed against Catholicism.  Bishop Zubik is right to stand against this bigoted, intolerant treatment of Catholics, and to demand an apology.

THE LIMITS OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM.  Students loudly proclaimed their right to “freedom of expression.”  The term “freedom of expression”, though, has been applied by the U.N. Human Rights Council to protect against wanton disregard for religions, such as that displayed at CMU:

On March 22, 2013, the UN Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a new resolution on combating religious intolerance.  ARTICLE 19, a charitable organization established in 1987 to ensure that religious ideas are respected in the public square, and CIHRS (the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies) welcomed the new resolution.

Refworld.com, the website of the UN Refugee Agency, explains the two organizations’ support for religious tolerance (emphasis mine):

In particular, ARTICLE 19 and CIHRS appreciate that the resolution reaffirms the positive role of the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can play in strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance.

The Action Plan requires States to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, peace and respect, by:

  • Encouraging the creation of collaborative networks to build mutual understanding, promoting dialogue and inspiring constructive action;
  • Creating an appropriate mechanism within Governments to, inter alia, identify and address potential areas of tension between members of different religious communities, and assisting with conflict prevention and mediation;
  • Encouraging training of Government officials in effective outreach strategies;
  • Encouraging the efforts of leaders to discuss within their communities the causes of discrimination, and evolving strategies to counter these causes;
  • Speaking out against intolerance, including advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence;
  • Adopting measures to criminalize incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief;
  • Understanding the need to combat denigration and negative religious stereotyping of persons, as well as incitement to religious hatred, through, inter alia, education and awareness-building;
  • Recognizing that the open, constructive and respectful debate of ideas, as well as interfaith and intercultural dialogue can play a positive role in combating religious hatred, incitement and violence;

The resolution further calls upon States to:

  • To take effective measures to ensure that public functionaries in the conduct of their public duties do not discriminate on the basis of religion or belief;
  • To foster religious freedom and pluralism by promoting the ability of members of all religious communities to manifest their religion, and to contribute openly and on an equal footing to society;
  • To encourage the representation and meaningful participation of individuals, irrespective of their religion in all sectors of society;
  • To make a strong effort to counter religious profiling, which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questionings, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures;

ARTICLE 19 and CIHRS reiterate its call upon States to continue their active engagement in good faith dialogue to ensure the protection of the rights to freedom of expression and opinion, freedom of religion or belief, and non-discrimination for all individuals. We urge States to renew their commitment to the action plan set out in HRC Resolution 22/40, and redouble efforts to implement that plan at the domestic level.

AND LASTLY, INTENT.  Did this outrageous costume just slip through the cracks, blindsiding the university’s administrators?  It wouldn’t seem so.  According to the event’s Facebook page established by Carnegie Mellon School of Art, Last year got a little out of hand… we expect nothing less this time around.”

I trust that an apology will be forthcoming, and that the university will lay out a strong policy against denigration of the Catholic faith here in the U.S., in keeping with the UN’s goals for other parts of the world.

*     *     *     *     *

UPDATE:  On May 1, Carnegie Mellon University President Jared Cohon has apologized for the actions of the student who dressed as the pope in the art school’s 4th Annual Anti-Gravity Downhill Derby, while parading through campus naked from the waist down and tossing condoms to an amused crowd.   

According to local CBS affiliate KDKA, the matter is still under investigation; but President Cohon has said he is “extremely disturbed” by the incident.

The statement reads:

“This act was highly offensive and, as we have said, the university has been investigating the matter and following our procedures to determine if disciplinary action is warranted.

Some people seem to equate limited communication with no action, believing that the university is doing nothing, and somehow hoping that the issue will just go away. This is not the case, and those who know me and my administration should reject such ideas out of hand.

While our process is still in motion and I cannot comment on or speculate about the resolution of the matter, I can apologize to those who took particular offense. I regret that this occurred, and I apologize to all who were offended by this, for religious or other reasons, and especially to those who witnessed this behavior.”

  • Colin

    You make really good points. I would be careful on some of the facts though. They passed no houses and didn’t parade around in the street but were on private school property. While I agree that the act was vulgar, it still was art. It is meant to make us think and react. You are allowed to disagree with it but they are allowed to express it. If we begin to censor our community we begin to shelter our future generations from thought. Let us Christians teach our kids about the difference between right and wrong and have them choose what to do…but to take the choice away is wrong.

    • Kathy Schiffer

      Colin, I respect your thoughtful comment, but I disagree. We “censor” public acts all the time: We require shirt and shoes in a restaurant, we don’t permit porn on television during the family hour, we bleep out offensive speech…. Society protects the young and the entire populace from others’ bad judgments all the time. And you may be correct that they passed no houses; but I saw photos on the school’s own webpage, and there were throngs of people gathered along the parade route watching. The woman’s outfit was immoral AND ILLEGAL, and she should be suspended.

      And we parents are called to “raise up a child in the way he should go.” We are not “sheltering future generations from thought” when we endeavor to expose them to what is good in society, and to steer clear of obscenity such as this.

      • Colin

        Thank you for the kind words back. Your insight into raising children was greatly appreciated. I guess my question still lies with whether or not this would have gotten as much press had she not been naked from the waste down. The idea that her nudity is the most offensive part in this is some what off setting. I was in 4th grade and was handed a picture of Saint Agatha of Sicily from a Sunday School teacher. She was topless with her breasts on a platter being that they were severed due to her testimony in the law of chastity. I went to Rome to visit the Pope in 2000 when I was in 8th grade and saw nudity in the art at the Sistine Chapel. If we shout to ban nudity that opposes the church should we not then in turn have to ban all nudity, whether uplifting or not? If it turns out that she broke the law I feel that the authorities should decide whether or not they will take action. I think that if the school were to come down on the student it would only make matters worse. Massive amounts of students who don’t share your view would only protest more. Possibly leading to more nudity and hatred toward the Catholic Church. I don’t know if you have read other blogs or comments but they are less than respectful on both sides. Sometimes the best victory is staying out of the war.

        • Kathy Schiffer

          There is no need to decide whether to ban nudity. Nudity IS banned. Nudity HAS ALWAYS BEEN banned in polite society. If there is a decision to be made, it is whether to NO LONGER ban nudity so that this chick can let it all hang out. I know you don’t really believe that this nudity is an artistic expression, comparable to Michelangelo’s David or the art in the Sistine Chapel. This young woman’s nudity was a cheap protest.

          I don’t pretend to know how the university administration will respond. I got my undergrad degree at the University of Michigan, where there was an annual protest called, I think, the “Naked Mile.” Students ran through the town, and police gave up and turned a blind eye. I hope that won’t happen in this case; I hope the university and the city will act to protect the rights of ALL citizens, not just this confused girl. There is no hesitancy to enforce the law when the rights of smokers or drunk drivers come face-to-face with the rights of ordinary citizens; why must we succumb to the efforts of the least civil among us to cheapen our society?

          • Kathy Schiffer

            Oh– and with regard to letting it go so as not to cause further wrath to be directed toward the Catholic Church: You mean like when the Church says that abortion, though legal, is morally wrong? When the Church stands on its teaching regarding birth control, or homosexual activity, or abstinence?

            The Catholic Church leads, she never follows. The Church seeks to be a light in a world sometimes darkened by sin. It’s funny how frequently the media get the story wrong, predicting that the new pope or the Church will “change.” Nope, nada.

          • Imperious Dakar

            You raise a good point with regard to Michelangelo’s David Kathy.

            I have always felt that the Catholic Church disapproved/was uncomfortable with female nudity in a way that it was not with regard to male nudity.

            Its probably due to the idea that the male body is normal, while the female body (which is a great deal more involved in the process of human breeding) is inherently different and sexual.

            Therefore, naked depictions of women are suspect in a way that naked depictions of men are not.

          • Imperious Dakar

            Kathy, do you really think that being exposed to nudity is comparable to things that regularly kill innocent people (like drunking driving and smoking)?

      • Imperious Dakar

        I doubt you would be nearly as offended if it had been a man dressed up as the pope, naked from the waist down, and handing out condoms.

        But then, the Catholic Church has always been uncomfortable with female nudity and the female body. Probably because its led by celibate men (who glorify a supernatural virgin over all other women).

        And you should think twice before praising UN attempts at censorship.
        Remember that such laws could all too easily be used against Catholics too.

        • Dan

          … No, I’m pretty sure she’d be just as much offended if it was a guy…

      • bzelbub

        Shoes and shirts in restaurants are required usually because of health codes. Bare skin scalds faster than clothed skin. It has nothing to do with censorship. Maybe some day you or your children will go to a naturist community and see that people do not obsess about the naked body as you seem to do. Could it be a flaw in your personal self.

  • Dale

    A photo of the young woman, from the chest upward, is featured on the website of a Pittsburgh newspaper.
    http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/3938003-74/zubik-crossed-student

    The campus newspaper reports that there were several instances of nudity in the parade:

    “One cannot mention the Downhill Derby without mentioning the nudity. There were a number of carts that were downright provocative with nudity or explicit themes, including a human hamster wheel powered by clothing-phobic men, a gondola featuring the Pope caught with her pants down, and a man dressed as male genitalia in a hand. This might have led to some awkward moments for students who went to the derby with their families.”
    http://thetartan.org/2013/4/22/pillbox/downhillderby

  • http://www.catholicwritersguild.com Ann Margaret Lewis

    Looking at her outfit from the top up, I don’t know how her presentation can be considered artistic at all. It looks like a 2nd grader made it. Just sayin’.

    • Darkhill

      I agree Ann. I just looked at the Pope costume and it looks elementary school level to me. Of course, art is so loosely defined these days that I’m not surprised. Also, even the claim of art and free speech doesn’t make up for this. No art or speech is morally neutral or protected from moral critique.
      She should be expelled but let us not hold our breath.

  • Pingback: Woman student in art parade dresses like pope—but naked from the waist down—UPDATED

  • Mike Hunt

    Jesus people! It’s just a vagina, half of you have one and I’m guessing most of them are a lot more offensive than hers. LOL at the Catholic diocese calling out a Jihad on a 19 year old college art student. Aren’t there more important issues in the world to deal with?

    • Kathy Schiffer

      Mike, I’m going to let your comment stand, as evidence that there is something seriously wrong with our society. Dignity and respect are, in fact, important issues.
      Also, this may not matter to you, but you have taken the name of my God in vain.

      • James

        Kathy… You are going to LET his free speech stand?! Why that is downright AMERICAN of you!

        • Kathy Schiffer

          Ahem…. It’s MY blog, James. Not Mike’s, not yours. You want free speech–get your own blog.

    • Imperious Dakar

      You have to understand Mike, that many people really believe that the pope is the closest thing to God on Earth (relationship wise). That he has the right to speak on God’s behalf.

      So they find the idea of a WOMAN protraying the pope incredibly offensive.
      The fact that she was half naked and handing out condoms only compounds the matter for them.

      • Dan

        … Not really. He’s the Vicar of Christ, in that sense he was sent to lead the faithful. That doesn’t mean that he’s ‘closest to God’ in the spiritual sense (save for the sharing in the priesthood of Christ. I’d say that ‘closeness’ as it is often perceived is dependent on both learning and holiness of the person involved…

        You may also want to consider your chain of thought if you actually think the ‘woman’ part and not the ‘naked’ part is what we’re concerned about… The essential disrespect of a half-naked person portraying an ecclesiastic figure at all is what’s offensive.

        • Imperious Dakar

          Not really Dan.
          The Catholic Church has gone to great pains to explain that women can never be priests (and therefore no woman can be pope).

          But as someone in this thread already pointed out, everyone is naked under their clothes (and even the holiest priest’s parents had sex, otherwise he would never have been born).

  • j noonan

    Yes the costume was inappropriate, but a lot of people really seem to get worked up about things that are of really small significance.

    • Kathy Schiffer

      Small things, like public nudity? In Pennsylvania, public nudity is prohibited; in fact, there are restrictions as to where one may wear a bikini.

      Or do you mean small things, like disrespect and blasphemy and religious intolerance? Again, we have laws to protect our country from anti-Catholic and other bigots.

      • IslandBrewer

        And again, it took place on the CMU campus, not public property. Otherwise it would likely be a second degree misdemeanor at best under PA statutes. And yes, I realize fully that nudity can incense people far more than, say, littering or jaywalking, but it’s less harmful, frankly.

        As far as the allegation that these same people would never criticize Islam or other religions, you must never take a peek at the atheist channel here. Islam, mormonism, plain ole evangelical christianity get criticized all the time. If you sincerely think catholicism gets an inordinate proportion of criticism, maybe it’s because they have an inordinately influential voice in this country, and have an inordinate amount to be criticized about. Just remember how how catholic hospitals were instrumental in getting special exemptions for paying for health coverage in the affordable healthcare act. Recall the special congressional panel on women’s healthcare that included catholic clergy, and no women whatsoever?

        And am I to understand that your idea of religious “tolerance” basically means immunity from criticism or parody? Or are you the one to place conditions and boundaries on what criticism is valid? And of course, I’m going to assume that if the criticism isn’t to your liking, you’d like to be able to simply silence it, am I correct?

        Oh, and the UN resolution was designed to curb things like violence targeting religious groups (such as Hindu lynch mobs targeting muslims in India, or muslims beating up Coptic christians in Egypt), employment and housing discrimination, and preventing access to worship. It was NOT designed to make people’s beliefs free from ridicule.

      • Brandon

        Yeah, I’d consider both public nudity and hurt fee fees to be small things.

  • Jim

    Our politically correct society has long ago established protected groups and open season groups. Christians, including Catholics, conservatives, etc. are open season for ridicule. Yet the same people that espouse freedom of expression want hate crime laws to include hate speech when it comes to perceived ridicule of groups they are affiliated with. What is hate speech? The owner of Chik-Fil-A saying to a group of Christians that he supports traditional marriage. Wow, the personal views of a business owner trump a woman, naked from the waist down, pubic hair shaved in the shape of a cross, otherwise dressed as the Pope and tossing condoms, who could possibly find offense in that? Which one was designed to effect insult? Which one, technically, violated existing laws? Which one did liberals obsess about and which one do they ridicule? I thank God I’m not a liberal.

    • IslandBrewer

      Hey, feel free to boycott this woman’s chain of businesses. No one’s stopping you.

      As far as a good predictor of which views liberals ridicule? A good guess is that they ridicule those views that they find most offensive and harmful. Nothing too outlandish about that. Nude woman? Meh, everybody’s naked under their clothes. Hostile working environment for a whole class of your employees? That’s a little different.

  • Jean

    IslandBrewet. Eric Holder made a statement a few days ago that criticism of Muslins will not be tolerated. Ask victims of the Boston bombing how well that sits. And the Catholic church, as other institutions , have exemption from the health care act because they don’t believe in killing babies, or anyone for that matter. There are lots if places to get your birth control that ddoes nor involve the church.

    • IslandBrewer

      Wrong, Eric Holder DID NOT say criticism of muslims won’t be tolerated. He said discrimination against muslims won’t be tolerated. Do you even know the difference? Criticism isn’t discrimination. Nor is it bigotry.

      Why is that one little distinction so hard for people to grasp?

      I realize feeling persecuted is a catholic raison d’être, but it’s no where as prevalent as you’d like to pretend it is.

      My point was that the RCC has an in ordinate amount of political clout.

      But now that you bring it up, a woman seeking coverage for contraceptives doesn’t get them from your church, she gets them from her employer. A Catholic hospital is a business., not a church A business that makes a ton of money. A business that has to comport with every federal, state law and regulation, including employment discrimination laws and industry regulations. A business that has to recompense it’s employees with benefits. Except that it has the RCC as it’s board, so it doesn’t have to follow one particular law. Note, the Church doesn’t have to provide health coverage, the lucrative business that pours tons of money into it does.

      I take it, by your logic, that a Jehovah’s Witness sitting on the board of directors of a business could get his company exempt from covering blood transfusions in it’s healthcare coverage? You’re ok with that? Or a member of a business who was a member of the christian identity movement (a white supremicist religion) would be exempt from serving black people, because of religious exemptions? If not, then you’re advocating for special rights for catholic run businesses.

      Maybe I should make up a religion that says “Followers of that guy in the Vatican must not be aided”, and then deny catholic employees any benefits, because of my religious beliefs?

      • Dale

        Quoting IslandBrewer: “I realize feeling persecuted is a catholic raison d’être, but it’s no where as prevalent as you’d like to pretend it is.”

        I realize your comment was posted with a bit of exasperation. However, I did want to make a correction. The Catholic raison d’être is to know and love God. This involves following Jesus and encouraging others to do the same.

        The notion that Christians are being persecuted in the US seems to be common among persons aligned with the Christian Right. Some Catholics fall into that camp, I do not believe that most do. And, of course, many members of the Christian Right are not Catholic.

        I don’t want to get too far afield, so I will return to the topic of the Carnegie-Mellon parade. As previously mentioned, the parade took place on private property, under the jurisdiction of a private university. As such, the open nudity is a matter for the staff, students and alumni to sort out.

        As for the anti-Catholic imagery in the parade, I think the matter is more of a public concern. If a blackface minstrel show were to take place at Carnegie Mellon, I would expect public complaints and criticism. And I would expect a demand from outside organizations that the university take action.

        • Kathy Schiffer

          I agree and disagree.

          You are correct: If there were a blackface minstrel in the parade, African-Americans would protest, and rightly, against the prejudice it showed. Wasn’t there a case recently when an African-American was shown on television with a watermelon, and apologies were demanded and issued? Geez, I like watermelon a lot–good thing I’m not black, so I can still eat it if I want!

          The point, though, is that Catholics also deserve to not be mocked and minimized in the public square. If this offensive prank is allowed to go unaddressed, it will show the university’s insensitivity to 25% of the American population.

          I also agree with you that the Catholic raison d’être is to know and love God.

          Where I disagree is with the idea of a university being “private property,” with the same property rights as, say, a home in the suburbs. Here, I pulled up a quote from another unrelated case on the Education Law Blog:

          Is university property public or private? This issue always sounds to me more like a political than legal argument for the following reason: just because property may be owned by a public body does not mean individuals have the right (or should have the right) to use that property for political protest at any time and of any form. Freedom of speech is important, but so is regulating traffic, maintaining law and order, respecting local businessowners, etc. The centre of the intersection at Burrard and Robson may be owned by the City of Vancouver, but that does not entitle five Vancouver residents to stand there with placards and a soapbox after failing to get a permit to do so.

          As a parent of young children, I used to take my kids frequently to local universities to tour the museums, visit the library, eat in the student center…. I had every right to do so; and I had every right NOT to be confronted with nudes who just felt like getting a little sun. The rule of law holds on private property, as well as public.

          • Dale

            Kathy, thank you for replying. I think you make a good point that private property is still subject to the same regulations as other spaces in a community. Since the campus of Carnegie Mellon is not enclosed, and is open to anyone to stroll through, how can there be an expectation of privacy?

            The Pennsylvania state law regarding the crime of indecent exposure applies to persons who exposure their genitals ” in any public place or in any place where there are present other persons under circumstances in which he or she knows or should know that this conduct is likely to offend, affront or alarm.”
            http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/18/00.031..HTM

  • Jim

    Universities seek to expunge all but the politically correct. The issue is the picking and choosing of which topic is offensive and which isn’t. To homosexuals, non-support of their lifestyle is offensive. To Catholics, mocking Christianity and the Pope are offensive. To Islamics, mocking Mohammed and the Koran is offensive. To people of Asian ancestry, derogatory names created to describe same is offensive. (For the liberal readers, I acknowledge that this list is not inclusive for all offenses by any group) Either they are ALL open to non-violent criticism, mocking, and parody by everyone, anywhere, or none should be. Were Rabbis mocked at Carnegie Mellon, Imams maybe? Star of David or Crescent Moon pubic hair motifs? The Universities and students plod forward, trying to step on any and every perceived infraction of their sensibilities, all the while proclaiming freedom of speech and expression. It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic. There’s a book on the market addressing Liberalism as a mental disease, you may want to get a copy and start therapy while there’s still time. Boycotting Chik-Fil-A is not equivalent to having businesses removed from Universities due to the expression of Free Speech and Thoughts. Anyone is welcome to boycott, but the offense of supporting, in private, traditional marriage (oh the humanity) should not have resulted in the removal or denial of stores, not for an institution that professes to hold so dear freedom of speech. Public displays in public universities (oh, private, but they accept public grants and loans, not so private after all) is not tantamount to discussions on blogs, sorry. Lastly, for any liberal that has a vestige of intellect remaining, why are religious symbols forbidden on public property (surely not the non-existant Separation of Church and State) when positively depicted but suddenly welcome when depicted in a negative way? Same symbol isn’t it? (For liberals, the previous was predicated on symbols “on” public property and I in no way mean to intimate that the pubic hair cross was part of the university).

  • Jean

    You can make up any religion you want, and write all the rules for it. I don’t have a problem with that. I DO have a problem with people who know absolutely nothing about my faith telling me how it works and what I should believe. And yes a Jehovahs Witness has the right to get exemptions as well. You need some religion, ad you seem to be full of hatred for everyone that does not support your beliefs. All we ask is that you stop insulting us. It is wrong and not necessary.

    • IslandBrewer

      I’m not telling you what to believe, nor have I in any of these posts. I didn’t claim to know anything about your faith. I DO claim to know how law and business exemptions work, however, which is what we were talking about. Nor do I do not hate you, nor am I “full of hatred” for anyone, frankly. You, however, appear pretty bent out of shape at what I’m saying. Further, I haven’t insulted you, unless the “feeling persecuted is the catholic raison d’être” really got to you (which even my catholic family says all the time – yes, I was raised catholic).

      And all I’m saying … well, it’s gone pretty far off topic, by now. My points were originally (in response to your post) was that (1) criticism is not the same as discrimination, a point that painfully eludes you, and (2) the RCC gets special legal treatment because it has a lot of weight to throw around, and THAT is wrong. I just want businesses to obey the same rules, regardless of the religious beliefs of their owners.

      So a business (not a person, mind you, a business) run by a Jehovah’s Witness should be exempt from paying for blood transfusions in its health coverage, you say? I’ll assume you’re ok with a business denying service to black people (or catholics in my contrived hypothetical), too, but didn’t want to say. Denying service for religious purposes, of course. Religion becomes a get-out-of-jail free card, now? “My religion says it’s ok to kill someone to preserve my honor.” Should that person get an exemption from criminal statutes? Or is it just your religion that gets special treatment?

  • Jean

    My religion nor my political beliefs nor my skin color get me any special treatment. I do not expect or want special treatment . I just would like non- Catholics, disgruntled Catholics and non religious people to keep their opinions private. And for those talking about nudity in art, bare breasts are a lot different than bare genitals. A male naked below the waist would have been arrested. We live in the new Sodom and Gomorah and are headed down a very dangerous road. A little consideration for each others beliefs is all most of us ask for. I am not a stupid person as you have intimated. I fully understand what points you are trying to make. But you don’t understand that the diocese, and Duquesne University are nor businesses but are religious institutions . The church should not be told by the government what to do. Read the Constitution. It is actually the real separation of church and state, but I don’t expect you to get it. Liberals are one sided with no hope of compromise.

    • Brandon

      I just would like non- Catholics, disgruntled Catholics and non religious people to keep their opinions private.

      Right, you want special treatment. Asking that people who disagree with you just shut right up is asking for special treatment.

      • Imperious Dakar

        I frankly think that it goes beyond that Brandon.
        That modern day Catholicism wants to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to the issue of women.

        Throughout most of the Catholic Church’s history it was largely taken for granted that men were better than women. As a result of this cultural assumption, no one really questioned the fact that Catholicism treated men and women so differently.

        After all, if you accept the idea that men are smarter, stronger, more honorable, and all around better than women, why would you even consider something like accepting women into the priesthood?

        However, in our modern era (at least in the West) things have significantly changed.
        If you treat (or worse outright say) women as though they were inferior, you will lose the support not only of most women but also a great many men.

        So now priests have to promote ideas like this one:
        Women are equal to men, but only men can be priests because Jesus (God) was a man, however women are made just as much in God’s Image, nevertheless priests must be referred to as Father (and not as Mother or anything feminine) because God’s 2 aspects are masculine (unless you get the Trinity involved, in which case it gets a lot more complicated but God still has no feminine aspect).

        If I were a Catholic woman I suspect the whole issue would trouble me deeply.
        But since I am not, I can look at it with a level of objectivitiy.

  • JEDESTO

    Even if this “arts” demonstration at CMN had featured a nude Mohammad and a gang of imams tossing assault weapons (unloaded, of course) into the crowd, CMU need not be concerned because, as we all know, the vast majority of Muslims are tolerant, honest, benign folks (like you and me) and Islam is a religion of peace and brotherhood (like Judaism and Christianity).

    • JEDESTO

      It will not be “moderated” by me. If the shoe fits, so be it!

    • Imperious Dakar

      To be honest JEDESTO, even though I have issues with Christianity too, I consider Islam far worse.

      The idea that every secularist is willing to ignore or overlook the faults of that not particularly peaceful religion is simply false.

  • Jennifer

    Ms. Schiffer you rock in a serious way, not only in the way the facts of this article was presented but your responses to some of these very lost people commenting is so inspiring. To imply that this is being singled out because it’s a female, or that nudity is not big deal if it’s on a college campus as opposed to in front of houses, and the sad blasphemer who has only one argumet – which is to take the Lord’s name in vain. THANK YOU for faith!

    Just new to this website/blog, will keep reading.

  • amyc

    Sure, what she did could be seen as offensive to Catholics. Then again, nobody has a right to not be offended. If the Catholics on campus are really upset, then they can stage a counter-protest or something. The answer to speech you don’t like shouldn’t be censorship…but more speech. I seriously don’t understand what the problem is with nudity though.

    • Kathy Schiffer

      Amyc: “Nobody has a right to not be offended”? That’s absolutely not true. Think of Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction”. If I choose to go to a strip club, then I have no right not to be offended; but to suggest that the streets of America must be given over to whatever kind of immoral activity you want is to confuse liberty with license.

      The problem with nudity? In the right context, there is no problem. I don’t even know where to start to explain the beauty and the significance of the human body, and why it should be held in highest honor. If you are not just throwing out a rhetorical question but would really like to understand the logic which requires chastity, why don’t you explore some of the wonderful teachings by Pope John Paul II on the “theology of the body”? Here is just one article to get you started: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0218.htm

    • Imperious Dakar

      You have to remember amyc, that Catholicism has always been (at best) uncomfortable with sexuality in any form.
      And there is a widespread sentiment (that thankfully appears to be dying out in the West) that the female body is inherently sexual (so it has to be covered up).

      • Kathy Schiffer

        What? Actually, Imperious Dakar, Catholics have a view of sexuality that would blow your mind. Catholic theology teaches that because humans have a soul, their union should far surpass the mere sense level of animals, and should involve the spirit as well as the body. In other words, it should be love that unites them, not just a physical urge. And this love that unites man and woman is meant to mirror God’s love, which has certain characteristics: it is free, total, faithful and fruitful.

        But don’t take my word for it. Check out the writings of the Pontifical Council for the Family, or Christopher West’s work on the Theology of the Body. Or, even more accessible, read a great book by Dr. Gregory Popcak, “Holy Sex! A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Lovemaking”.

        And OF COURSE the “female body” is inherently sexual–as is the male’s body. That is so militantly obvious, it’s hard to even answer you. I’m growing tired, frankly, of your uninformed accusation that opposition to public nudity has anything to do with gender.

        • Imperious Dakar

          I have read work on The Theology of the Body, that’s why I take issue with it frankly.

          And my ‘accusation’ is hardly uninformed.
          Tell me, if a man ran naked up and down the street in Saudi Arabia would he be punished as harshly as a woman for doing the same thing?

          If woman ran naked throughout Spain during the era of the Inquisition would she be treated the same as a man who did the exact same thing?

  • James Smith

    Simple question here. Suppose this student didn’t engage in any nudity, and simply had worn the fake pope garment, while handing out condoms. Do you believe that this would be free speech, and should the student be punished?

    Public nudity is blatantly illegal, so that really complicates the whole issue here.

  • Paul Rapoport

    This article is so far off in its wrong assumptions and failure to understand that it’s a lot worse than any incident like the one it purports to discuss.

  • rye wheats

    Do a google image search for “cmu protest nude art”…. there are some naked ones of her… one smoking a cigarette as well… yuck. I couldn’t see the pubic hair cross though from that distance.

  • bzelbub

    In Europe, where public nudity is allowed, the populace isn’t as wound up about the naked body. So the question is are more offended by the nudity or the political message? I think that this falls under 1st Amendment rights.


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