VILLANOVA, Pa. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A prominent Catholic university is facing backlash after releasing a new guide for faculty on "gender inclusion."
Villanova University, located in Pennsylvania and run by the Augustinian order, issued a document outlining procedures for making the university "more inclusive" for "transgender, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming and/or gender-questioning communities."
The guide advises faculty and staff to avoid "gender-binary language" like "ladies and gentlemen" and instead use gender-neutral words like "everyone," "people" or "folks" instead. It also instructs staff to avoid misgendering others, to correct others if they misgender someone in their presence and to use preferred pronouns even when the individual being discussed is not present.
Professors are directed to add a gender-inclusion statement to their syllabus and to practice using various pronouns, while students are encouraged to customize their gender and pronouns in the student portal.
Instructors are additionally advised to add gender inclusivity to their curriculum:
Consider making gender inclusivity an explicit component of your department's and your classes' DEI work and mission. In the classroom, this might include assigning readings about gender or readings written from a gender studies perspective. If gender is relevant to what you're teaching, then be explicit about these connections and, if possible, teach the research and scholarship of transgender, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people.
Villanova is located within the borders of the archdiocese of Philadelphia, under Abp. Nelson Perez. When Church Militant asked the archbishop's office for comment, Ken Gavin, the chief communications officer, gave the following statement:
As Catholics, we respect the sacred dignity of every human being and seek to accompany them with pastoral care and compassion while respecting the Magisterium. In terms of your specific question, we would not comment on Villanova University's policy. It is an independent institution of higher education and does not fall under the administrative jurisdiction of the archdiocese of Philadelphia.
In a statement to The College Fix, Catholic commentator John Monaco said, "This policy is not simply anti-Catholic, but also irrational and anti-science. This perpetuates a mythology about gender and sexuality, and Villanova fell for the myth." Monaco points out that the guide makes no mention of Christ or the Church. The guide has been panned by Catholics online as well.
In response to the criticism, Villanova spokesman Jon Gust told The Washington Examiner, "Villanova upholds and maintains the Catholic Church's teaching that all people are accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity."
In a comment to The National Desk on the story, Villanova stated:
Villanova upholds and maintains the Catholic Church's teaching that all people are accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. As part of our Augustinian values of Veritas, Unitas, Caritas — Truth, Unity and Love — Villanova seeks to be a welcoming and inclusive community that respects members of all backgrounds and faiths.
Villanova's "LGBTQIA+ Resources" page contains a statement where Villanova faculty and staff bemoan the Vatican's statements on the sinfulness of same-sex unions. It even includes a prayer for "all marriages," meaning gay couples as well as straight couples.
The College Fix reached out to Villanova to ascertain if there would be punishment for faculty members who did not follow the guide. There has been no response at the time of this writing.
The movement of Catholic higher education to embrace gender ideology has not gone unnoticed by the American hierarchy, and some moves have been made to curtail gender theory.
Spokane bishop Thomas Daly, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education, noted in a July 13 interview with The Washington Examiner that Catholic schools "have morphed into a kind of nice private school with some Christian trappings ... and they need to be called out because they're no longer really Catholic schools."
In June, Bp. Robert J. McManus ordered the Nativity School of Worcester to cease calling itself a Catholic school due to its refusal to remove gay pride and Black Lives Matter flags from its premises. Catholic schools must have authorization from the local ordinary to call themselves Catholic.
Additionally, the dioceses of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Omaha, Nebraska, both require that students be designated by their biological sex.