Yesterday the Pope praised America as a nation where strong faith and religious beliefs live harmoniously with secular society. His remarks, delivered at the White House as part of his first trip to the US, came with a caveat addressed later to the bishops: The US is battling a "subtle influence of secularism" that threatens to derail the righteous. He said:
Is it consistent for practicing Catholics to ignore or exploit the poor and the marginalized, to promote sexual behavior contrary to Catholic moral teaching or to adopt positions that contradict the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death?
Maybe the Pope should have started his trip in Las Vegas. The Sin City mayor just had this to say about legalizing prostitution:
It's disingenuous when people say they don't want to legalize it. Right now it's uncontrolled and unregulated. There's no check and balance as far as the women's health is concerned and legal brothels could be an important revenue-raising device for the city. When you speak about it intellectually, not morally, it makes sense.
Las Vegas exists in an odd bubble as much of the rest of the state allows and watches over the sex trade. To see the dilemma,
. While critics say that any prostitution amounts to sexual slavery, proponents of legalization say that it will actually limit human trafficking, now rampant in the unregulated landscape of Vegas. Could allowing it be just the ticket to protecting women? The chief lobbyist of the Nevada Brothel Association says, "legal brothels could work anywhere. They could be huge in Las Vegas. It would be great for the women and for our industry . . . "
Who's right? Is the Pope spot on saying that more sexual permissiveness is a road to ruin? Or is the Las Vegas mayor right by acknowledging the women's health and economic factors of a foregone conclusion like the world's oldest profession? Does what happens in the Vatican, stay in the Vatican?