Supporters of Loyola Marymount University (LMU), the Jesuit and Marymount college in Los Angeles, like to call the professedly Catholic school "the Georgetown of the West." Given Georgetown's exceedingly apparent disdain for its own self-identified Catholicism, these LMU supporters are perhaps more spot on in their comparison than they should care to admit.
In the past several years, the university, where Catholic principles have been neglected for decades, seems to have ramped up its mission departure into the politically correct, counter-Catholic secular world. As usual, the sacrifice of Truth at this so-called Ignatian institution has been made at the hands of "academic freedom."
This past week, LMU's president, Dr. Timothy Snyder, proudly announced that former president and "Culture of Death" politician Bill Clinton will be giving the keynote address at its graduation ceremony in May. The move would only come as a surprise to someone unfamiliar with the school's religiously "progressive" inclinations. In fact, LMU had already been formally recognized as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative's University Network, basically a non-government organization pushing goals typical of the Clintons' beloved Democrat Party all across the globe.
One recently retired professor of philosophy at LMU, Dr. James Hanink, tells ChurchMilitant.com the university's decision is "reflective of a 'failed' Catholic university" and "is incompatible with its Catholic heritage."
"It tells us that the school's leadership draws on a kind of 'post-Catholic' and 'make-nice' secularism," says Dr. Hanink, who suspects the move is motivated by mere "marketing efforts." He explains that LMU "should seek someone who shares the Catholic commitment to a culture of life and works publicly to advance it" and believes Abp. José Gomez of Los Angeles "should publicly rebuke the LMU leadership." Indeed, that's precisely what Abp. Gomez did to St. Mary's University in San Antonio, his former archdiocese, after the Texas Catholic school honored Bill Clinton's wife Hillary, also a morally corrupt politician.
Another professor of philosophy at LMU, Dr. Christopher Kaczor, recently appointed to the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, wrote an op-ed for Catholic World Report lamenting his institution's continuing deviation from the Faith. He was particularly concerned by a report indicating that Catholic faculty at the supposedly Catholic university comprised a stark minority — in explicit defiance of "Ex Corde Ecclesiae," Pope St. John Paul II's apostolic constitution on Catholic universities.
As the original report noted, "Conservative Catholics feel they are in an environment that is hostile to what they feel are true Catholic values." (And, being an alumnus myself, I can testify to the accuracy of the sentiment.)
Kaczor declared just how bad things could become if the status quo is maintained.
Our current logo contains, we are told, subtle religious symbolism. Indeed, the symbolism is so understated as to be completely unnoticeable to the untutored eye, a perfect icon for the future of LMU. At some point, the crucifixes will come out of the classrooms. Sacred Heart Chapel will need to move into greater conformity with wider university culture. The Eucharist will be permanently removed so that the space can be used for theatre, concerts and yoga. The final argument about religious identity will be about whether distinctively religious art should remain. A compromise will be struck whereby the pieces considered offensive — such as the central crucifix and the statue of Mary — are removed, but the stained glass windows remain intact, a silent reminder of a long lost tradition.
The concern would appear to be further validated when, just a month later, LMU would delete from its website any mention that its administration verifies a group's conformity to the Catholic mission when seeking to hold events on its campus. The move followed immediately upon the Cardinal Newman Society's inquiry into a series of overtly pro-LGBT campus events. (These were of course unsurprising, given the school already promotes plenty of highly dubious pro-gay initiatives.)
In line with its increasingly left-wing political leanings, LMU was also recently the host of the shamelessly feminist "Vagina Monologues." The "power-packed performance" was part of the university's ideologically driven Consent Awareness Week.
Perhaps worst of all, in 2014, LMU opted to honor the heinous abortion mandate of California's Department of Managed Health Care, which required even Catholic institutions to provide for elective abortions in their employee health plans. To make matters worse, when the Newman Society highlighted that some of the school's professors were publicly demanding such coverage the year before, President Snyder joined pro-abortion activists in effectively denouncing the society for its report. Loyola Marymount's commitment to the pro-life cause had long been called into question owing to its lack of any official pro-life group on campus. When the university finally addressed the problem, it did so by sponsoring Seamless Garment, "inspired by the late Joseph Cardinal Bernadin's (1928–1996) consistent life ethic and the Jesuit ethos" — that is, a morally neutered, ideologically compromised form of "pro-life" advocacy that Abp. Gomez has already criticized.
As a group of alumni imploring LMU to renew its commitment to Catholicism have noted, there are occasional signs of hope at the university. But the overall direction is clear in its business-like approach to secularization. If it doesn't convert soon, Dr. Kaczor's words in January about the school may prove tragically true, and "the process of secularization will be completed within a generation."