Not only did Bill Clinton deliver the commencement address, but he also received an honorary doctorate from LMU. Fr. Allan Deck, S.J., rector of the LMU Jesuit Community defends this decision as follows, “LMU, precisely because it is a Catholic and Jesuit University, seeks to follow the inspirational leadership of Pope Francis in promoting a culture of encounter that requires an openness to meet people cordially where they are rather than negatively in a judgmental way.”
Fr. Deck’s defense of violating the teaching of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, as noted earlier, attacks a straw man. While it is true that a culture of encounter requires an openness to meet people cordially where they are, it does not require inviting them to give a commencement address nor does it require giving them an honorary doctorate. Indeed, Pope Francis’s particular emphasis on the authority of local conferences of bishops does not exonerate but exacerbates LMU’s action. If Pope Francis is right that abortion is a “crime” and an “absolute evil,” surely we must, with respect, disagree with Fr. Deck.
Encountering and dialoguing with those who facilitate serious injustices is one thing.
Celebrating and honoring them, in the highest manner institutionally possible, is quite another.