The following comes from an Oct. 6 story in the New York Times.
To read Cal Catholic stories from the summer that detail the start of this fight, click on the dates: July 17, August 12, August 18.
Not three weeks have passed since Pope Francis said the church had grown “obsessed” with abortion, declaring, “We have to find a new balance.” But on the campus of Loyola Marymount University, overlooking this city’s west side, a fight over abortion now threatens to rip the school asunder.
Trustees of the Jesuit university will decide on Monday whether to remove coverage for elective abortions from the faculty and staff health care plans. The coming vote has exposed a deep rift over just how Catholic a Catholic university should be in the 21st century — and how to maintain that distinctive Catholic identity amid growing diversity on campus.
Religiously conservative professors and alumni argue that as the proportion of Catholics on campus — in the student body and on the faculty — has fallen in recent years, the university has lost touch with its Catholic identity. They have leaned hard on university officials to re-establish a more prominent role for Catholic doctrine at the university, starting with eliminating insurance coverage for abortions.
But the potential end of abortion coverage has sent a collective shiver through much of the faculty, who fear that it could also signal the end of an era in which non-Catholics have been wholeheartedly welcomed by the university and professors have enjoyed the academic freedom to teach theories that do not necessarily accord with Catholic doctrine.
Both sides, however, have come to view Monday’s vote as symbolic of a battle for the university’s soul.
“Loyola Marymount has always represented tolerance, diversity and a welcoming atmosphere where we can exchange ideas openly,” said Laurie Levenson, a professor at the law school. “If this represents a shift in what it means for Loyola to be a Catholic university, and being a Catholic university now means exclusion, I think Loyola would lose something very special. It could dramatically change who’s attracted to the university and what faculty want to be involved.”
Christopher Kaczor, a philosophy professor who described himself as a “faithful Catholic,” agreed that it was potentially a turning point in the university’s history.
“Part of the university’s mission is to promote justice,” Professor Kaczor said. “And in the Catholic tradition, abortion is considered a justice issue. So to say the university supports justice and then also pay for abortions is a contradiction.”
….In 2010, David W. Burcham, a Presbyterian, was appointed president of Loyola Marymount — the first non-Catholic president of any Jesuit university in the country, according to school officials.
David Luke, an alumnus, said Loyola Marymount’s drift away from its Catholic roots has reached a crisis point.
This year, Mr. Luke helped found an organization called “Renew LMU,” which has pushed the administration to enroll more Catholic students and hire more Catholic faculty members (in 1990, Pope John Paul II issued a directive that at least half the faculty members at Catholic universities should be Catholic). Mr. Luke said that support for human life was central to Catholic teachings and that only professors who are against abortion should be allowed to hold certain posts on campus, like director of the Bioethics Institute.
“We are concerned about the overall Catholic character,” Mr. Luke said. “Secular faculty are welcome on a Catholic campus, but it’s incumbent on those faculty to inform themselves of Catholic teaching and show some amount of respect.”
In August, Mr. Burcham sent a letter to faculty and staff members saying that since 1988, the school had repeatedly inquired with its health insurance companies about whether it would be possible to drop coverage for elective abortions from the faculty health plan. Until this year, the answer had always been no. But this summer, the letter said, the insurance companies agreed to drop the coverage, and the trustees would vote on it in October.
An uproar soon followed.
Last week, dozens of faculty members signed a full-page advertisement in the student newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan, urging the trustees to maintain abortion coverage. Privately, professors without tenure expressed concern that they could scuttle their careers if they spoke up; some have started looking for other jobs.
“For a lot of us, it looks like some of our worst fears about teaching at a Catholic university are coming true,” said Anna Harrison, a tenured professor of Christian history.
Like other Jesuit schools, Loyola Marymount has welcomed scholars of all faiths. Condoms are not distributed on campus, but professors have been free to post stickers advocating abortion rights on their office doors. A performance of “8,” a play about the fight for same-sex marriage in California, was held on campus last year, over objections from religious conservatives.
Professor Harrison feared that Monday’s vote could mean the end of that free intellectual exploration….
To read the entire New York Times story, click here.
We will continue to be haunted with the confusion that is growing ever so rapidly….the words that our Pope have said in regards to being obsessed. How sad….I pray that God will wake us up from this nightmare and we look for His guidance and to gain back our confidence when it comes to the morals that we are to never tone down!
The slogan that these are fun times to be Catholic…Really? It’s never fun when people use the words of our Pope to bring more confusion. Those of us who persevere in the truth know better but not everyone perseveres so well.
A Catholic college or university must always first be a Catholic institution. Nothing should be taught, which is different than discussed, that is against the teachings of the church. If non-catholics, or Catholics for that matter don’t want to be exposed to Catholic teaching they should not attend that school. Easily said, but the devil is in the details. It will be interesting to see if academic freedom trumps the Catholic teachings.
Well said Bob. Catholic institutions should not have to bend to please o0thers. The will of God is not always easy for us. We must stand up for what is right and true. Catholic College, Catholic teachings.
“Loyola Marymount has always represented tolerance, diversity and a welcoming atmosphere” Paying for the killing unborn babies is not a way to do it.
This Catholic University and every other such institution should be FREE to be identified AS CATHOLIC in name and academically without comment or confusion. The secular world should not be allowed to impinge on that freedom of expression as guaranteed and inalienable given, firstly by God, and supported by the Constitution. The “tail is wagging the dog” here. Get it right here, folks.
Ahem! so now everyone who is just shocked — just shocked — that there are those in Catholic colleges who think Catholic teaching should be taught and enforced there, now think that Muslim and Orthodox Jewish schools and restaurants should have to provide pork and shell fish for all their workers, students and customers and that all Protestants schools and businesses should have to provide Rosaries for theirs. If you try it, do not be surprised if you get your behinds “kicked”, just as you should if you expect Catholic colleges to go against their teachings.
Most people have done something hypocritical in their life times, but many repent and go on from there to be more faithful realizing their error, but many just keep digging themselves in deeper and deeper in the name of “diversity”.
The New York Times writer carries on the modern agenda of creating confusion and controversy where none should exist. Two very distinct issues are being intentionally conflated here, where “academic freedom to discuss and present ideas” and the right of the university employer to provide healthcare coverage that does not include paying for the murder of unborn children seem to be offered as one and the same topic. In the classroom and in public and private forums, everyone at the university is free to discuss and argue the merits of infanticide, parricide, fratricide ad nauseum, but a Catholic university should also be free to refuse paying for murder, no matter how popular it might be in the wider culture. If no line is drawn, how can we be real forces of moral distinction? What the powers that be would like to enforce would be for all credible opposition to cease any concrete observance of their moral position. Then there would be nothing to argue in the academic forums, everyone would be in uniform agreement on whatever the society willed to promote, no matter how thoroughly wicked it might be. These are very dark thoughts, much darker than the polite, ethical and legal (according to a close reading of the Constitution) refusal to provide payment for “medical services” that include destroying unborn children.
It seems to me the tables are turning and the idea of diversity should cover inclusion of those who would reject abortion as the one and only action to be taken. Opening the campus of a Catholic Institution to abortion is acquiesing to conformity, not diversity.
How can a College calling itself Catholic declare the precious value of individual life in one classroom and approve the taking of innocent human life in another room? I hope this college gets no church funding if it makes the decision to become a promoter of preborn infanticide.
Let us pray that Loyola Marymount returns to its Catholic roots. Gee, St. Thomas Aquinas College has no problem with its Catholic roots!
May God have mercy on an amoral America!
Viva Cristo Rey!
God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc
The Church should be obsessed with abortion and ending this demonic scourge!…modernism is “heresy”…those who endorse these vile acts are herertics…
If you asked me…the word is not Obsessed, No not at all…the word obsessed seems negative but what we need to do is to return to are moral convictions! We need to have moral convictions that help us defend the right for an unborn to live. “obsessed” is not the right word to describe Christian conviction, that are suppose to be a given. But if the Holy Father and others want to use the word obsessed, then if you ask me, we aren’t obsessed enough in what is good to do…..we are lacking defining convictions that help us win this battle in this culture of death, we are lacking much virtue now a days. God have mercy!