PITTSBURGH, April 30, 2013 ( – Catholics in Pennsylvania and around the country are outraged after learning that a college student dressed as the pope from the waist up – and nude from the waist down – handed out condoms in an event organized by Carnegie Mellon University's art department. The university has said in a release that it has not yet taken action against the student, who shaved her pubic hair into the shape of a cross, because it is still investigating whether the incident violates “our community standards.”

CMU spokesman Ken Walters said, “We are continuing our review of the incident. If our community standards or laws were violated, we will take appropriate action.”

Local ordinances forbid public nudity, and university officials have confirmed that photos of the nude woman accurately depict the April 18 event.


Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh reached out to the university after hearing reports – and receiving photographs – of the incident.

The “Carnegie Mellon Code” says students “are expected to meet the highest standards of personal, ethical, and moral conduct possible.”

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League says CMU's inaction is “morally indefensible.” He noted that late last month the university indefinitely suspended the activities of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity upon reports that its members had taken sexually explicit photos and videos inside its frat house and shared them with members.

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“But when it comes to a female student who walks the streets naked from the waist down while mocking the pope, the administrators are much more relaxed: she has not been suspended during a probe of this matter,” Donohue said.

“What if instead of shaved pubic hair in the shape of a cross, a student chooses to depict a swastika?” Donohue asked.

Bishop Zubik says he does not want this woman punished for her own sake. “What I do want to have happen is that this person could learn an important lesson: That prejudice, bigotry, there's no place for it,” he said.

He noted he would feel the same if she had disrespected any religion.

Local media News Catcher 31 broadcast interviews with only two students, both of whom defended the woman – one, Ivy Kristov, who said it was “all in good fun” and another, Kyri Baker, who said it fell under “freedom of speech.”

Bishop Zubik said the event and its response raises uncomfortable questions. “It's not a matter of pointing to one young lady,” the bishop said. “We have to ask what could cause things in our society that would make her think it's acceptable to do something like this. I hope that this gives every one of us the opportunity to pause and think about what it is that we say to one another, and how it is that we say what we say.”


Gina Casalegno, Dean of Students: [email protected]