Following inquiries from The Cardinal Newman Society about a recent conference on campus promoting LGBT advocacy, Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles deleted language from its website specifying that every group which sought to hold an event at the University would need approval from the administration “to ensure [the group] supports the mission of the university.”
On the weekend of January 16-17, LMU opened its facilities to a group of “LGBTQ/SSA Mormons, their families, friends, and church leaders” for a conference titled “Knit Together in Unity & Love.” The event included several LGBT rights advocates, including a transgender woman, and addressed topics such as “Thriving as a Gay Mormon,” “Learning how to be an effective Ally for LGBT Mormons” and “Supporting and Empowering our LGBT Young People.”
Last month, the Newman Society reached out to the Conference Services department at LMU regarding the approval process for conferences and if the University’s Catholic identity was a factor in the decision making process. University officials redirected the Newman Society to LMU’s spokesman Mason Stockstill, who did not respond to requests for comment.
Soon after the Newman Society’s inquiries, LMU’s Conference Services webpage was edited to remove any reference to the University’s Catholic mission. The Newman Society asked LMU and Stockstill why the change was made, but no response was received by time of publication.
A previous statement on the page (see screen grab image) read: “PLEASE NOTE: Each new group who visits our campus must be approved by the university administration to ensure it supports the mission of the university. Please send your Letter of Intent via email to email@example.com or fill out the online Information Request Form.”
But now, no mention of the University’s mission can be found on the page, and the sentence that mentioned support for LMU’s mission was changed to read: “PLEASE NOTE: All events are subject to university approval. Please send your Letter of Intent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the online Information Request Form.” (Story continues below.)
LMU’s mission statement suggests that it considers its Catholic identity to be a distinguishing aspect of the University. It reads in part:
The University is institutionally committed to Roman Catholicism and takes its fundamental inspiration from the combined heritage of the Jesuits, the Marymount Sisters, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange. This Catholic identity and religious heritage distinguish LMU from other universities and provide touchstones for understanding our threefold mission.
However, the recent edits to the Conference Services webpage raise even more questions about the approval process for hosting events on campus that might be contrary to Church teaching and LMU’s Catholic mission.
“Great institutions are founded on bedrock principles. Our Catholic Church is one of them,” said Newman Society vice president for program development Bob Laird. “How can a Catholic university call itself Catholic then let conferences on their campus which promote activities directly opposed to the mission of the university?”
“What message does this send to the hundreds of families who send their children to LMU thinking that they are receiving a Catholic education?” asked Laird, noting the omission of mission-centric language. “Too bad that LMU opted to slide off that bedrock of two millennia of principles into the shifting sands of today’s culture.”
This is not the first time that LMU’s regard for Catholic identity has been called into question. Just last month, LMU philosophy professor Dr. Christopher Kaczor wrote an article predicting that the University would lose its Catholic identity “within a generation.”
Additionally, conservative Catholic professors have described the “hostile environment” present at the University and criticized the administration’s superficial approach to Catholic identity. The University also came under fire for its support of Common Core and its offering of abortion advocacy internships last year.
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