Watch CBS News

CMU Parade Controversy Over Naked Woman, Dressed As Pope

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Students at Carnegie Mellon say it's freedom of expression, but the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh calls it inappropriate and disrespectful.

At an annual art school parade, a female student dressed up as the pope, and was naked from the waist down while she passed out condoms.

Even more, witnesses say the woman had shaved her pubic hair in the shape of a cross.


The Diocese has asked CMU to take action.

"I think we all know that when we're growing up we do stupid things but to cross over the line in this instance shouldn't happen with anybody," Bishop David Zubik said.

CMU issued a statement, saying "We are continuing our review of the incident. If our community standards or laws were violated, we will take appropriate action."

Some Carnegie Mellon students we talked with saw no need for discipline. (Continued...)

"It's all in good fun and it's not meant to harm anyone," Ivy Kristov told KDKA's Andy Sheehan.

Bishop Zubik says the incident must be addressed.

"What I do want to have happen is for this person to learn an important lesson," Zubik said.

The University encourages individual thought and artistic expression but the Diocese believes this student not only crossed the line, but trampled all over it.

They are demanding some action.

And a national Catholic organization is now calling for the student's immediate suspension and other sanctions.

She dressed up as the pope from the waist up and paraded naked from the waist down -- her public hair shaved in the shape of a cross.

Tuesday morning on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA Bishop David Zubik continued to express outrage.

"Certainly," Zubik said, "because even in terms of the symbol of the cross, it is the most sacred symbol for all Christians."

Bishop David Zubik

CMU reiterated its statement that the university is reviewing the incident and will take action if, "our community standards or laws were violated."

But the National Catholic League called for an immediate suspension of the student, noting that CMU recently suspended fraternity members for taking sexual pictures inside the frat and emailing them to other members.

"If CMU tolerates this incident, invoking no sanctions whatsoever, then it is opening a door it may regret," the organization said in a statement.

"What if instead of shaved pubic hair in the shape of a cross, a student chooses to depict a swastika?

CMU's decision not to suspend this female student, who publicly ridiculed Catholics and violated the local ordinance on public nudity, while invoking sanctions against the frat boys for offensive behavior behind closed doors, is legally problematic and morally indefensible."

"I'm an atheist, I thought it was funny to be honest," said student Daniel Kim.

Meanwhile, students KDKA's Andy Sheehan talked to Tuesday continued to brush off the incident as artistic freedom and fun, despite the shocking nature of the display.

What action the university will take is unclear.

What is clear is that the drumbeat for CMU to do something is getting louder.

Previous Andy Sheehan Reports
More Local News
More News
Join The Conversation On Our Facebook Page
Follow Us On Twitter

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.