This article from the Loyolan reported on what took place:
Padre Pio Society, a Catholic group on campus, placed posters on campus displaying a pro-life message on Monday, Oct. 2. The posters were down a few days later by students on campus.
Some students expressed disapproval of the message as the posters are similar in imagery and style to the posters put up by RESILIENCE and MEChA in protest of President Trump’s immigration policies. The Padre Pio Society poster reads “Don’t abort my fellow humans #NoHumanBeingIsIllegal #AbortionIsAnImmigrationIssue” while the RESILIENCE poster reads “Don’t deport my friends #NoHumanBeingIsIllegal.”
“Yeah we’ve been scrambling to take [the posters] down, Chris Lorenzo did like three buildings,” according to a Facebook page appearing to belong to senior women and gender studies major Cass Vitacco, who commented on a post of the pro-life posters.
The RESILIENCE Facebook page posted a statement the following day stating that while they supported the expression of free speech, they had no part in making or posting the posters.
Delano Perera, a senior theology and philosophy major and president of Padre Pio Society, said the posters were posted to express the Catholic Church teachings that lives of the unborn are important, and that there was no malicious thought behind the posters.
“Everyday over 1,000 babies are put to death because of abortion, and we wanted to bring awareness to this evil,” said Perera. “I […] and many of our group members come from migrant families. Some of them will be affected by DACA. We care for our migrant brothers and sisters as we care for our unborn brothers and sisters.”
Perera also said that posters with a similar message were posted last year, but were also taken down within two days.
“After engaging in conversation with other students, I have been deeply troubled by the general response to these posters,” said Shannon Hayes, a senior classics and archaeology and modern languages double major and a member of Padre Pio Society. “They were meant to draw parallels between two serious human rights issues; unfortunately, they were viewed as divisive.”
Hayes says, in the future, she hopes to work with other students and alumni to create original pro-life art to be displayed at LMU.
Some students, however, viewed the posters as a form of plagiarism and used the efforts of the RESILIENCE and MEChA students without communicating effectively first.
“I first saw the posters […] and my immediate reaction was anger,” said Paige Prevost, a senior English and film and TV production double major. “It felt like capitalizing off a movement for one’s own gain. It didn’t feel like solidarity.”
Prevost later communicated with Hayes via Facebook, who explained the original intention behind the posters. However, Prevost, who identifies as pro-life and Catholic, still believes the use of RESILIENCE’s original design in the pro-life poster and hashtags co-opts the immigration movement in a divisive and alienating way.
[One professor] criticized LMU’s lack of retribution for those who took down Padre Pio’s posters, and questions the University’s policy of free speech for ideas that some people may dislike.
“Rather than engage the argument that all human beings deserve basic rights, the critics of pro-life view attempt to stifle the free exchange of ideas … If ‘pro-choice’ people are so confident in the truth of their view, why do they need to silence those who disagree?”
A faculty survey in 2014 revealed that “Conservative Catholics feel they are in an environment that is hostile to what they feel are true Catholic values.”
According to this survey, only 24 percent of those who took the survey identified as Roman Catholic.
“Our group members have been called names and mocked for standing up for Church teaching,” Perera said. “Being a Catholic is not easy, but Jesus said we must pick up our crosses and follow him. If my cross is to be ridiculed by my peers and professors then that is what I must do to follow Christ.”
Recall that just last year, a Catholic employee who removed LGBT signs was accused of a “hate crime”, denounced publicly, and subject to investigation by the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT). Now Catholic students are saying they are harrassed, their signs taken down, and their pro-life message censored. Will President Synder defend these students with the same vigor, energy, and public visibility that he showed last year in defending people at LMU with messages opposed to Catholic teaching? Does mocking and naming calling not matter if it is against pro-life Catholic students? If “all are welcome,” Catholics at a Catholic university sharing a Catholic message should not be silenced, harassed, or made to feel like second-class citizens.