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CNN Exclusive: Pope held private meeting with same-sex couple in U.S.


By Daniel Burke, CNN Religion Editor
Updated 4:57 PM ET, Fri October 2, 2015



Pope Francis met with Iwan Bagus, right, and
Yayo Grassi, left.

(CNN)
The day before Pope Francis met anti-gay county clerk Kim Davis in Washington last week, he held a private meeting with a longtime friend from Argentina who has been in a same-sex relationship for 19 years.

Yayo Grassi, an openly gay man, brought his partner, Iwan Bagus, as well several other friends to the Vatican Embassy on September 23 for a brief visit with the Pope. A video of the meeting shows Grassi and Francis greeting each other with a warm hug.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Grassi said the visit was arranged personally with the Pope via email in the weeks ahead of Francis' highly anticipated visit to the United States.

"Three weeks before the trip, he called me on the phone and said he would love to give me a hug," Grassi said.

The meeting between the Pope and gay couple adds another intriguing twist to the strange aftermath of Francis' first-ever trip to the United States. Since news broke on Tuesday of Francis' meeting with Davis, conservatives have cheered the seemingly implicit endorsement, while liberals have questioned how much the Pope knew about her case.

The two encounters -- one with a gay couple and one with a government official who ardently opposes homosexuality -- have left the Vatican scrambling to issue statements that seek to de-politicize the Pope's meetings and agenda.

On Friday afternoon, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said that Grassi had asked to present his friends to Francis in Washington.

"As noted in the past, the Pope, as pastor, has maintained many personal relationships with people in a spirit of kindness, welcome and dialogue," Lombardi said.

Earlier on Friday, the Vatican said that the meeting with Davis was not intended as a show of support for her cause and "the only real audience granted by the Pope at the nunciature (embassy) was with one of his former students and his family."

"That was me," Grassi said.

Grassi, who is 67, added that he is willing to talk about his private moment with the pontiff because he was upset about media coverage of the Pope's meeting with Davis.

"I want to show the truth of who Pope Francis is," he said.

Pope Francis taught Grassi in literature and psychology classes at Inmaculada Concepcion, a Catholic high school in Sante Fe, Argentina, from 1964-1965. Grassi said that he is now an atheist.

Grassi said the Pope has long known that he is gay, but has never condemned his sexuality or his same-sex relationship. In the video, Francis says he recalls meeting Grassi's boyfriend in Rome.

"He has never been judgmental," Grassi said. "He has never said anything negative."

Grassi said that he asked for the meeting in Washington because the friends he brought along have been through difficult times and wanted to receive of a blessing from the pontiff.

At the end the meeting, the Pope hugs both Grassi and Bagus and kisses them on the cheek.

"Obviously he is the pastor of the church and he has to follow the church's teachings," Grassi added. "But as a human being he understands all kinds of situations, and he is open to all kinds of people, including those with different sexual characteristics."

While not changing church teaching, which considers same-sex relationships sinful, Pope Francis has often emphasized mercy over judgment. In 2013, for example, he famously said, "Who am I to judge" gay priests who seek to do God's will. He also reportedly met with a transgender man from Spain in January of this year.

Transgender man: I met with Pope Francis

At the same time, the Vatican has refused to recognize France's ambassador to the Holy See, Laurent Stefanini, who is openly gay. And Francis has show little inclination to adjust church doctrine on sexuality.

"It reminds us, again, that the Pope meets with all sorts of people on his trips and that such meetings are not an 'endorsement' of anything," said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at large at America magazine.

"In this case, for example, he is not endorsing same-sex marriage. But if Mr. Grassi's account is accurate, then it makes me happy to know that the Pope keeps in contact with his old friends, both gay and straight. For friendship and welcome are at the heart of the Christian life."

This October, the Vatican will hold a major meeting, called a synod, to discuss how to minister to gays and lesbians, among other issues facing modern Catholics.

While Grassi describes his relationship to the Pope as very close, they haven't always agreed on same-sex rights.

During Argentina's heated debate over same-sex marriage in 2010, Grassi chastised the Pope for opposing gay rights. At one point, the future pontiff suggested that same-sex marriage is the work of the devil.

"You have been my guide, continuously moving my horizons—you have shaped the most progressive aspects of my worldview," Grassi wrote to the future Pope in an email, according to National Geographic magazine. "And to hear this from you is so disappointing."

Grassi told CNN that Francis -- then Cardinal Jorge Margio Bergoglio -- wrote back, saying that he was sorry to have upset his former student and promising that "homophobia" had no place in the Catholic Church.

Grassi said he believes the Pope was "misled" into meeting with Davis, who served six days in a Kentucky jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Davis' lawyers had portrayed the papal meeting as an endorsement of her cause. After several days of questions and culture-war sparring, the Vatican said that was not the case.

"The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects," Lombardi said in a statement issued Friday morning.

The question of who, exactly, set up the meeting between Davis and the Pope has been the subject of fervid media speculation this week.

Vatican officials have said that such an encounter could only have taken place with the planning and approval of the Holy See's nuncio -- or envoy -- to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

[CNN]
 

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Is anybody really saying that people don't have the right to criticize the Pope or any religion?

I personally don't think that anybody or anything is above criticism.

I said earlier that if the Catholic Church comes out in support of SSM it will cease to be the church.

I believe that just as sure as I believe it would cease to be the church if it came out and denied the divinity of Christ.


I also believe that when the Pope makes statements like "who am I to judge" that he means he is not the ultimate judge.

We all make judgments all the time. Jesus even said that "by their fruits you will know them."

That statement requires judgement as to whether the fruit is good or bad.
 

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Is anybody really saying that people don't have the right to criticize the Pope or any religion?

I personally don't think that anybody or anything is above criticism.

I said earlier that if the Catholic Church comes out in support of SSM it will cease to be the church.

I believe that just as sure as I believe it would cease to be the church if it came out and denied the divinity of Christ.


I also believe that when the Pope makes statements like "who am I to judge" that he means he is not the ultimate judge.

We all make judgments all the time. Jesus even said that "by their fruits you will know them."

That statement requires judgement as to whether the fruit is good or bad.
why?

if the church will accept them it just mean that the church follow the path & way of its founder and the principles he believed in

Love Your Neighbor
“And the second [commandment] is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:39–40).
 

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Anyone who wants a judgment should look to the actual history and the literature.

For instance, Bibles translate one part of the awful Lot story to "All the men" when the exact wording can just as easily mean "All the people". It's a translator's choice and the effect is very different. "All the people, even the men of Sodom" has a different implication than "All the men, even the men of Sodom." In fact, that latter translation choice, which all the Biblical translators chose to use, makes less sense.

Moreover, the passage says all the people, young and old, of not just Sodom but the surrounding areas (even the extremities) came. That cannot possibly mean a swarm of gay men. Where did all these gay men come from? It's absurd. Even if all the men of Sodom (a military fort that was connected to a trade route and near the city of Gomorrah?) were homosexuals — something that is plausible if it's just a military outpost — since military homosexuality was hardly rare in the ancient world, the rest of the people from the city and the extremity (young and old) obviously couldn't have been. The ancient world certainly could not sustain an all-male population of gays to any large degree. Travel was much too difficult. Just importing gay kids to keep the population up would have been ridiculous. Plus, the entire idea of it is fantasy. A smaller military outpost to protect a trade route ("even the men of Sodom") I can see. But, everyone? Nope.

Why would Lot offer two virgin females to that mob when he would have instead offered his sons in law? If they were gay, which do you think would have been more appealing? And, do we really think old men and children are going to try to rape the angels? Finally... anyone who wants to take that story seriously needs to remember the two condoned instances of incestuous reproduction that occurred. Apparently God doesn't like rude mobs who want to interrogate guests but has no problem with daughters raping their father to get pregnant (and it was rape because it says he was too drunk to know who they were). This also makes it miraculous because old men do not impregnate two women when that drunk. They are very very unlikely to even be able to get it up once.

The problem that Jewish authorities had with homosexuality was not about homosexuality itself. It was about temple prostitution, competition from the religion of the Canaanites and so on (Baal). Temple prostitutes were female and male, so it wasn't a problem with homosexuality in general. They were just as upset about female temple prostitutes.

Some versions of Baalism had people sleep with both a male (kedishim — very close to kedoshim which means "holy one") and a female (kedishoth). Some have argued that this was a way for shysters to get a lot of sex with attractive young people, by claiming that they needed to have sex with them to receive a blessing and to ensure the fertility of the agricultural season. But, the bottom line is that it made sense, in terms of religious logic (semen being associated with rain and fertility, for instance) and it was good for business (the religion's popularity). Ancient Jewish authorities didn't like it when Baalism began to mix with their own religion and culture to the point where Jews were becoming Baal worshipers. So, they came up with arguments saying how awful this sort of sexual practice is.

Apparently, too, Abraham literally partied with the King of Sodom. If Sodom was so horrible then why would he choose to do so? Ezekiel says the sin of Sodom was that its people were rich and greedy. He mentions absolutely nothing related to sex. It makes even less sense to even believe that Sodom was a homosexual male occupied military outpost connected with a larger city in this context. Ezekiel's comment points to a city, not an outpost. And, anyone with half a brain understands that there can't be an ancient city of nothing but gay men.

Now this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, plenty of food, and comfortable security, but didn't support the poor and needy.

Behold this was the iniquity of Sodom thy sister, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance, and the idleness of her, and of her daughters: and they did not put forth their hand to the needy, and to the poor.

Lo, this hath been the iniquity of Sodom thy sister, Arrogancy, fulness of bread, and quiet ease, Have been to her and to her daughters, And the hand of the afflicted and needy She hath not strengthened.
If the sin of Sodom was really that it was some sort of den of gay male predators then why would Ezekiel not bring anything related to that up? And, I find it quite telling that, given the importance of rich elites running things in Christian history that, instead of rich greedy people being vilified with the term sodomy, it's instead gays who are scapegoated.

Very telling indeed.

People are ignorant about the Biblical literature and the history. So, they continue to believe the false notion that you have to be anti-gay to be an orthodox Jew or Christian.
 

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Anyone who wants a judgment should look to the actual history and the literature.

For instance, Bible translates one part of the awful Lot story to "All the men" when the exact wording can just as easily mean "All the people". It's a translator's choice and the effect is very different. Moreover, the passages says all the people, young and old, of not just Sodom but the surrounding areas (even the extremities) came. That cannot possibly mean a swarm of gay men. Where did all these gay men come from? It's absurd. Why would Lot offer two virgin females to that mob when he would have instead offered his sons in law? If they were gay, which do you think would have been more appealing? And, do we really think old men and children are going to try to rape the angels? Finally... anyone who wants to take that story seriously needs to remember the two condoned instances of incestuous reproduction that occurred. Apparently God doesn't like rude mobs who want to interrogate guests but has no problem with daughters raping their father to get pregnant (and it was rape because it says he was too drunk to know who they were). This also makes it miraculous because old men do not impregnate two women when that drunk. They are very very unlikely to even be able to get it up once.

The problem that Jewish authorities had with homosexuality was not about homosexuality itself. It was about temple prostitution, competition from the religion of the Canaanites and so on (Baal). Temple prostitutes were female and male, so it wasn't a problem with homosexuality in general. They were just as upset about female temple prostitutes.

Some versions of Baalism had people sleep with both a male and a female. Some have argued that this was a way for shysters to get a lot of sex with attractive young people, by claiming that they needed to have sex with them to receive a blessing and to ensure the fertility of the agricultural season. But, the bottom line is that it made sense, in terms of religious logic (semen being associated with rain and fertility, for instance) and it was good for business (the religion's popularity). Ancient Jewish authorities didn't like it when Baalism began to mix with their own religion and culture to the point where Jews were becoming Baal worshipers. So, they came up with arguments saying how awful this sort of sexual practice is.

Apparently, too, Abraham literally partied with the King of Sodom. If Sodom was so horrible then why would he choose to do so? Ezekiel says the sin of Sodom was that its people were rich and greedy. He mentions absolutely nothing related to sex.



If the sin of Sodom was really that it was some sort of den of gay male predators then why would Ezekiel not bring anything related to that up? And, I find it quite telling that, given the importance of rich elites running things in Christian history that, instead of rich greedy people being vilified with the term sodomy, it's instead gays who are scapegoated.

Very telling indeed.

People are ignorant about the Biblical literature and the history. So, they continue to believe the false notion that you have to be anti-gay to be an orthodox Jew or Christian.

dont forget that bc of Lot's daughters, his oldest who gives birth to Moab, we have ruth (she came from moab) and she was king david great-grandmother.
and its writting Messiah is a descendant of King David and he will come from the house of david.

lets of action :p
 

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dont forget that bc of Lot's daughters, his oldest who gives birth to Moab, we have ruth (she came from moab) and she was king david great-grandmother.
and its writting Messiah is a descendant of King David and he will come from the house of david.

lets of action :p
Lot was a stud, even his daughters fancied him.
 

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None of this explains why you seem to think homophobia and misogyny in religions is apparently above any criticism. It honestly follows your usual pattern in political threads here, where you are extremely contemptuous and critical of any Western political leaders (read US and Western European ones) for anything (some valid, some not), and extremely lenient on any non-Western leaders or other leaders you have apparently decided to give passes to (the Pope, for whatever reason). You are extremely inconsistent in how you apply your criticisms.

At the end of the day, whether you call me a bourgeois leftist or whatever, the Pope supports homophobia and misogyny and uses his influence to try and deny groups equal rights. This is a fact. I will criticize him for it. Just as I will praise him for his attention to other issues. Now only if you could do the same.
I never said it was above criticism but frankly its the exact same position that its always had so the criticism is hardly new. It's decades and centuries old.

Of course I'm more critical of Western leaders, they're the ones faking democracy, a dictator is upfront about what he does rather than pretend he is something he isn't. A plethora of countries have bombed Syria but now the media only get uppity about it when Russia does it. You want consistent criticism then look at your own governments who bash Iran and sell arms to Saudi Arabia. Or even attack other democracies that don't suit them, i.e. South American left wing countries.

The reason I give praise is because they're changes in policy and something new from the Church. I'm not here praising their acceptance of creationism because that isn't a new policy.

Also if the Church suddenly accepted gays tomorrow I'd think it was opportunism just like Obama and Clinton suddenly coming around to it when public opinion suits them.
 

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The only good position the Catholic Church has is to be anti-death penalty. Everything else is bullshit, like most organized religion in the world.
 

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dont forget that bc of Lot's daughters, his oldest who gives birth to Moab, we have ruth (she came from moab) and she was king david great-grandmother.
and its writting Messiah is a descendant of King David and he will come from the house of david.

lets of action :p
And the fact that it is genetically basically impossible for a father (especially and old man whose sperm quality has degraded because of age) to bear two healthy children with his own daughters.

There is a genetics chart that shows where incest took the Habsburg dynasty. Charles II is the last one.

Charles was physically and mentally disabled, infertile, and most likely impotent. Charles did not learn to speak until the age of four nor to walk until eight, and was treated as virtually an infant until he was ten years old. His jaw was so badly deformed (an extreme example of the so-called Habsburg jaw) that he could barely speak or chew.
The inbreeding coefficient of the Spanish Habsburg kings increased strongly along generations from 0.025 for king Philip I, the founder of the dynasty, to 0.254 for Charles II.

It is speculated that the simultaneous occurrence in Charles II of two different genetic disorders: combined pituitary hormone deficiency and distal renal tubular acidosis, determined by recessive alleles at two unlinked loci, could explain most of the complex clinical profile of this king, including his impotence/infertility which in last instance led to the extinction of the dynasty.
Charles II's inbreeding coefficient is pretty much the same as a sibling or parent-child incestuous reproduction (F=.25) and look at how bad off he was. He was the only "successful" birth of several pregnancies.

So, Lot having two pregnancies that were successful with his daughters is absurd for these reasons:

1) He was too drunk to get it up, particularly given his age.

2) He couldn't have done it twice, let alone once. Not only was getting it back up a joke but it takes a young man like 72 hours to recover his sperm count. There is leftover but the chances of the second insemination drop dramatically given the reduced sperm count.

3) His sperm was too old, greatly magnifying the problems inherent with incest.

4) His genetic similarity with his daughters would have been very bad, making the chances of even a single live birth unlikely — and one without deformities extremely remote.

5) If God is worried about justice, why is incestuous rape OK? Clearly the only way it could have happened is with divine intervention. That makes us ask why the sex was necessary at all.

I consider the tale the equivalent of Penthouse Forum for the ancients. What's hotter than having God off the old lady so you can get busy with your two buxom virgin daughters in a drunken haze, just drunk enough to not having to be guilty about who they were? What's hotter than being seduced by them rather than the other way around? LOL. It makes the gang rape ("Here... mob... take my virgin daughters!") thing actually make sense. Masturbation material for old men — like the way paintings filled with naked fleshy women served as the Playboy centerfolds for rich guys once upon a time.
 

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And the fact that it is genetically basically impossible for a father (especially and old man whose sperm quality has degraded because of age) to bear two healthy children with his own daughters.
who was talking about health or genes?

they could have bear two kids, those kids got married and had kids and they kids gave birth to lots of kids while lot's kid/grandson died at early age.
 

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who was talking about health or genes?
Both.

Old men have sperm that are much more likely to cause their offspring to have deformities/defects, if they survive at all — and if they can even move fast enough to get to an egg.

Add to that the insanely high probability for extreme deformity/sterility stemming from the incestuous nature of the reproduction. Look at Charles II. He had a .25 inbreeding coefficient, the same as for siblings or parent/child. He was the only live birth of a number of pregnancies and was a mass of defects, including being sterile.

Add to that the way old drunk men can't get it up once let alone twice to the point of impregnating two women.

It's all absolutely preposterous.

Now, if the author had said the both masturbated at the same time until they started orgasming and pushed his semen (which he produced while they were both orgasming for them to share) in with their fingers then maybe it would have been more plausible. Female orgasm vastly increases the chances of conception to the point where even the finger method might work. Good luck getting an orgasm from an old drunk guy.
 

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Both.

Old men have sperm that are much more likely to cause their offspring to have deformities/defects, if they survive at all — and if they can even move fast enough to get to an egg.

Add to that the insanely high probability for extreme deformity/sterility stemming from the incestuous nature of the reproduction. Look at Charles II. He had a .25 inbreeding coefficient, the same as for siblings or parent/child. He was the only live birth of a number of pregnancies and was a mass of defects, including being sterile.

Add to that the way old drunk men can't get it up once let alone twice to the point of impregnating two women.

It's all absolutely preposterous.

Now, if the author had said the both masturbated until they started orgasming and pushed his semen in with their fingers then maybe it would have been more plausible. Female orgasm vastly increases the chances of conception to the point where even the finger method might work. Good luck getting an orgasm from an old drunk guy.
how about Elisabeth Fritzl kids? u know the one with the sick Monstrous father, her oldest is now 19 years old, she has 6 kids from him. 6 survived, if they can...
 

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Old men can have healthy children. Old women can't. Mother Nature is a sexist, misogynist not down with the sisterhood. Besides, Lot was a stud, man. His blood was natural viagra.
 

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Good morning Sodom and Gomorrah, good morning sinners
No, that wasn't your radio set on the bleep again

Sodom and Gomorrah, let the DJ play
'Cos I'm only gone tomorrow and here today
 

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Old men can have healthy children. Old women can't. Mother Nature is a sexist, misogynist not down with the sisterhood. Besides, Lot was a stud, man. His blood was natural viagra.
Old men cannot impregnate two women while stone drunk and have successful offspring with an inbreeding coefficient of .25 while they're at it.

Impossible.

Plus, women do not metamorphose into salt pillars.

So, the only way Lot could have done it is with magical God cum. But, again, that begs the question: Why did the sex need to happen at all and how can it possibly be seen as moral since it wasn't necessary?

What was stopping the daughters from just asking God to give them offspring? That would have been a lot less juicy for the ancient old dudes who wrote this "Penthouse Forum" for the ages.
 

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how about Elisabeth Fritzl kids? u know the one with the sick Monstrous father, her oldest is now 19 years old, she has 6 kids from him. 6 survived, if they can...
Was he an old man who was stone drunk?

Did he get her pregnant twice in the same night while stone drunk?

The absurdities just pile up. Astronomical odds + astronomical odds + astronomical odds + illogic (cities of gay men, old and young, who are interested enough in gang raping girls that Lot would offer them) + impossibility (sky fairies turning mothers into salt by ripping from Orpheus & Euridice) = BS.
 

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Was he an old man who was stone drunk?

Did he get her pregnant twice in the same night while stone drunk?

The absurdities just pile up. Astronomical odds + astronomical odds + astronomical odds + illogic (cities of gay men, old and young, who are interested enough in gang raping girls that Lot would offer them) + impossibility (sky fairies turning mothers into salt by ripping from Orpheus & Euridice) = BS.
we dont know, u dont know as well
we do know Fritzl was above 50 yo when he got his daughter pregnant, no drunk and no drugs just plan simple evil
he has a few kids but the oldest are 19 yo daughter and 18 yo son.
those are facts.

so how come an old men who rape his daughter, pass his kids his genes from both sides and they survived?
 

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how about Elisabeth Fritzl kids? u know the one with the sick Monstrous father, her oldest is now 19 years old, she has 6 kids from him. 6 survived, if they can...
Did you know that asylum seekers are being offered the Fritzl house as a place to live? I saw a story about it a couple weeks ago. They had been trying to sell for two years with no success, for obvious reasons.
 
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