A draft letter reportedly circulating among faculty members at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) blasts the administration’s recent decision to remove abortion from its health coverage plan, saying, “LMU can either be a great American Catholic university in the Jesuit and Marymount traditions, or it can be an institution that demands obedience to and conformity with Catholic doctrine; it cannot be both.”
At the bottom of the letter obtained by The Cardinal Newman Society is an invitation to “add your signature to this letter” and contact information for Amy Woodhouse-Boulton, an associate professor of history and member of the faculty senate. When contacted by The Cardinal Newman Society, Woodhouse-Boulton acknowledged that she and other professors authored a letter, but then she declined to confirm her association with the particular letter supporting insurance coverage for abortion.
The letter asks that the LMU board of trustees “reconsider” its decision in order to “honor our Catholic commitment to pluralism, freedom of conscience, the integrity of the individual and social justice.”
It argues that the decision by the administration is troubling to many because of a “lack of a consistent or well-articulated vision for the University and its Catholic mission.”
“LMU’s handling of this issue seems to be a part of a broader pattern in which the University has tried, with varying degrees of success, to find a middle path between what it often perceives to be two competing visions of forces, pulling the University to be ‘more Catholic’ or ‘more secular.’ Instead of articulating a strong vision of the unique strengths of the University, we have tried to navigate these forces or, hypocritically, shown very different faces to different audiences.”
The letter’s criticism isn’t reserved just for the University, however. It criticizes Catholic parishes as being guilty of indoctrinating Catholics.
“As a university, our Catholicity is made real in ways different from the parish. We have a mission to educate, not to indoctrinate; we have a mission to teach students how to think critically and how to engage in their own moral discernment, not to enforce doctrinal orthodoxy.”
Amazingly, the letter also attempts to use the words of Pope John Paul II in Ex corde Ecclesiae as a foundation for its argument that the University should cover abortions in its insurance plan.
“A culture of life requires the creation of a community that ‘assists each of its members to achieve wholeness as human persons,’ a community that affirms and protects the dignity and autonomy of its members (John Paul II’s 1990 Ex corde Ecclesiae). The University community in its policies and processes therefore must ensure women’s integrity and autonomy and collaborate in the creation of an environment where women can ‘achieve wholeness as human persons.’”
The letter also makes a racial argument: “While this decision affects all women, it puts a particular burden on the lowest paid women on campus, who are also most likely women of color.”
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