Los Angeles Loyola Marymount U. (LMU)’s pick and choose Catholic identity

Los Angeles Loyola Marymount U. (LMU)’s pick and choose Catholic identity

  • Los Angeles Loyolan (LMU student newspaper)  – 3/24/18
According to its mission statement, Loyola Marymount University is “institutionally committed to Roman Catholicism.” However, some university policies are inconsistent with traditional Catholic teachings, and some policies that do align with Catholic teachings are not compatible with student safety.


The LMU Student Health Center does not provide any form of contraception to students. University policy prohibits students from gaining access to vital sexual healthcare tools such as birth control, condoms and Plan B via the university. This lack of sexual healthcare on campus is chalked up to the fact that “LMU is a Catholic university,” according to Student Health Center Director Katie Arce.

The Catholic church holds that any means of contraception is wrong. So, while LMU is willing to jeopardize student sexual safety for the sake of upholding the appearance of a Catholic institution, the university does offer abortion advocacy internships. LMU also offers LGBT Student Services, which is something that sets it apart from other Catholic institutions.

As we celebrate and spread awareness with LGBT Student Services’ Rainbow Week events, we should also wonder why LMU is inconsistent with which Catholic messages it chooses to promote. These irregularities make LMU’s identity as a Catholic university ambiguous and unclear. Sophomore animation major and Catholic Emily Rawson said, “It is important to really analyze and understand LMU’s identity, because the character of our university is ultimately a character that influences how we all learn and think.”

LMU’s inclusion of LGBT Student Services is something that sets us apart from other Catholic universities in a positive way. When LGBTSS at LMU was founded, one Catholic news site, Life Site News, contacted LMU’s administration to clarify the goals for LGBTSS. In response, LMU said that it would be focusing on “counseling a life of celibacy to the LGBT community” because “the Catholic Church recognizes only marriage between a man and a woman.” According to the LMU LGBTSS website, “The LGBT Student Services Office at LMU focuses on promoting equality, visibility and inclusion of LGBT students within the LMU community.” This is a vastly different statement than LMU’s statements made to Life Site News. If LMU only advocates for marriage rights for straight students, then it is not promoting equality, visibility or inclusion.

While some Catholic universities do not allow LGBT speakers on campus, LMU does. In 2016, LMU provided space to a group of “LGBTQ/SSA Mormons, their families, friends and church leaders” for a conference. The event included several LGBT rights advocates. When Catholic news site The Newman Society reached out to LMU with inquiries, LMU’s Conference Services webpage was edited to remove any reference to the University’s Catholic mission.

Previously, a statement on the page read, “Each new group who visits our campus must be approved by the university administration to ensure it supports the mission of the university.” But now, there is no mention of LMU’s mission statement on the page, and the sentence that mentioned support for LMU’s mission was changed to, “All events are subject to university approval.” It seems that LMU does not want to take a stance on whether or not LGBTSS aligns with the mission of the university. This contributes to the muddying of LMU’s identity.

LMU’s own professors have expressed concerns about LMU’s Catholic identity. Philosophy professor Dr. Christopher Kaczor wrote in an article for Catholic World Report that LMU is on track to lose its Catholic identity within a generation due to the declining number of Catholic professors. Concern about LMU’s growingly ambiguous Catholic identity is present both internally and externally.

Catholicism, student safety and inclusion advocacy can and should coexist. The enforcement of Catholic teachings should not separate or endanger members of our community. It is important to be curious about why some Catholic messages are enforced while others are ignored? Rawson said, “As students, LMU’s handling of the controversy matters to us because we pay tuition to support this institution, and let this institution shape us through our education.”

As a private university, LMU does have the authority to pick and choose which Catholic teachings it implements into university policy. However, this only means that we need to question the decisions that our university has the freedom to make in order to ensure that LMU is making policy choices with integrity.

Plain and simple, LMU needs to be honest. Open discussion is the only way that LMU can set an example for its students in how to truly to advance a mission in “the service of faith and promotion of justice” as our mission statement calls us to. While it might be easier for LMU to endorse some messages and stay silent regarding others, we need to hold our university to a standard of consistency and know what our university really stands for. LMU’s highest values should be reflected in all university policies.

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4 comments on “Los Angeles Loyola Marymount U. (LMU)’s pick and choose Catholic identity

  1. There is such incredible illogic and confusion here, on the part of both the university and the student “spokespersons”, that it begs description. At the same time it would be terribly tiresome to describe it.
    Et Lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt.

    • I think that the statement from Pope John XXIII’s opening address to Vatican II (which I have quoted on AQ on several occasions concerning FrankenPope’s Amoris Laetitia – mostly recently by former Polish Primate Abp. Henryk Hoser saying something similar* in an apparent capitulation allowing “practicing” adulterers to receive Holy Communion): “The substance of the ancient doctrine of the Deposit of Faith is one thing, and the way it is presented [or not] is another”!
      *“The doctrine is clear, but the situations of individuals are different” (National Catholic Register) or “Church teaching is one thing, but its implementation a totally different story” (en.news)!

  2. 😎 “Make a mess!” (HH Franciscus)

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