During the month of October, Catholics in the United States celebrate Respect Life Month. Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez called it a time of prayer and action to “defend the dignity of every human person, from conception until natural death.”
A positive development on campus is that November has become Ignatian Heritage Month at LMU. Students had a chance to view the inspiring movie The Mission starring Robert De Niro, to learn how to practice the Ignatian Examen, and to see beautiful images on banners throughout campus celebrating the insights of St. Ignatius. Ignatian Heritage Month is a welcome element of renewal at LMU. Kudos to all the good people who made this happen.
Imagine if a person of color were appointed to be President of a university, and the former President of the university said of him, “He is an African American but also has great academic abilities in his subject. He also knows a lot outside his field of study.” Such a remark would be immediately and rightly condemned as negative stereotyping of African-Americans as intellectually inferior. Or imagine if a woman were appointed as president, and the President Emeritus said, “She is a woman, but also has great mathematical abilities. She also is good at science.” This remark suggests negative stereotyping of women as mathematically and scientifically inferior. Now, here is what LMU’s former President Fr. Robert Lawton SJ, said in the Loyolan about LMU’s new President Timothy Snyder, “He is a devout Catholic but also has great respect for other religious traditions. He also respects non-believers.” Fr. Lawton’s negative stereotyping of devout Catholics suggests that they are morally inferior, not extending respect to those of other religious traditions and non-believers. Bigotry against Catholics of a certain kind is common in the academy, but one hopes for better (magis) from a former president of LMU.