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LOS ANGELES (ChurchMilitant.com) - Loyola Marymount University (LMU) — a Jesuit Catholic institution in Los Angeles — allowed President Bill Clinton to deliver the commencement address to its graduates on Saturday and then awarded him with an honorary degree.
Father Allan Deck, S.J., professor of theological studies at the university, justified the award, saying, "LMU, precisely because it is a Catholic and Jesuit University, seeks to follow the inspirational leadership of Pope Francis in promoting a culture of encounter that requires an openness to meet people cordially where they are rather than negatively in a judgmental way."
University president Timothy Law Snyder commented, "President Clinton will inspire our graduates as they seek to lead lives of meaning, purpose and global impact."
Clinton did indeed have a global impact with his presidential policies, but critics argue as to whether they should be emulated by any Catholic person or university. He loosened regulations on abortion in the United States and lobbied to expand abortion in other countries, even injecting federal money into the promotion of abortion and contraception in poor nations as a solution to poverty.
In addition, he vetoed a ban on late-term partial birth abortions, required that Medicare pay for abortions, and allowed abortions on U.S. military bases throughout the world.
Holding up Clinton as worthy of emulation is the latest in a series of steps LMU has been taking away from its Catholic roots.
In April an employee was suspended for promoting Church teaching that only two sexes exist: male and female. She mentioned this in a discussion with three pro-LGBT students who were putting up posters promoting pansexuality — the idea that anybody can fall in love with anyone else without regard for gender.
The employee was disciplined in spite of the fact that she, a fervent Catholic, and at least one witness maintain the conversation with the students was civil and everybody involved was happy to have the chance to talk about the proper end of sexuality and marriage. The students even suggested the following year that posters speaking about the Catholic teaching on marriage be promoted next to their own.
The students, however, complained, and both the police and the campus Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) are investigating the incident as a hate crime. The employee was suspended without an inquiry by university authorities. She was initially sent home pending the outcome of the investigation but later allowed to return to work, being forbidden to speak of the matter.
The employee's husband spoke with ChurchMilitant.com. "She returned to work ... but is being isolated by her co-workers and is not allowed to give her side of the story. HR has put a gag on it; no one can talk to anyone about it. It's very stressful for my wife."
He also said that after the incident, LMU President Snyder led a march with six Jesuit priests in support of LGBT students and announced the approval of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.
She's not the only employee concerned with LMU's direction. Dr. Christopher Kaczor, a philosophy professor and member of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, published an essay lamenting the steep decline of Catholic faculty and the fact that they aren't being replaced by other Catholics. He maintains that within "a generation" the university would lose its Catholic identity.
In 2014 LMU hired an atheist to be the head of its liberal arts school, even knowing she had close affiliations with abortion giant Planned Parenthood.
The percentage of Catholics in the student body has also shrunk by 10 percent in the last 10 years, from 60 to 50 percent.
A final indication of the university's shedding its Catholic identity is when it was found in February that LMU had edited its mission statement, deleting regard for its Catholic mission from its policy after hosting an LGBT conference.
Watch the panel discuss Catholic colleges and their mission in "The Download—Catholic Commencement Scandals."