John Allen, Jr. is one of the most respected reporters on matters Catholic in the English speaking world. Formerly of the National Catholic Reporter and more recently of the Boston Globe, Allen’s reporting is acclaimed, by liberals and conservatives alike, for its balance, objectivity, and fairness. In the middle of a recent essay, Allen offered these words about LMU:
A widely read recent piece in Catholic World Report …raised sobering questions about whether LMU can, or will, remain “Catholic” in anything but name. … [O]nly 24 percent of faculty at LMU are now Catholic, and they tend to be the oldest members of the faculty. The increasingly non-Catholic ethos on campus, [the author] argued, shows up in a variety of ways, and he predicted that if things continue unchecked, “the process of secularization will be completed within a generation.” To be clear, the essay was neither alarmist nor antagonistic, but a rather straight-forward reading of the situation.
In a previous post, we wondered whether LMU would do anything to recognize the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis. We are happy to report that they have organized a series of lectures to be given by Jesuit Bishop Gordon Bennett, the Peter Faber, S.J. Fellow in Pastoral Theology and Ignatian Spirituality at LMU.
We are delighted that the wise and much loved Bishop Bennett is giving these lectures, and we hope that many students, faculty, and staff are able to attend. Well done LMU, and thank you Bishop Bennett!
An Open Letter to LMU President Timothy Law Snyder
Dear President Snyder,
We welcome you to the Office of President. We are excited to work with you and help you to enhance the distinctive mission and identity of LMU as a Catholic university. In this spirit of cooperation, we would like to call to your attention issues of great importance to us as LMU alumni, donors, parents, faculty, and concerned friends. As reported in the LMU Faculty Climate Survey, of the 392 professors who took the survey, only twenty-four percent (24%) identified as Catholic. In Ex corde ecclesiae, Pope St. John Paul II indicated : “the number of non-Catholic teachers should not be allowed to constitute a majority within the Institution, which is and must remain Catholic.”
LMU’s Proactive Publicity Committee Final Report states, “We are institutionally committed to Roman Catholicism….and seek to ensure that Catholicism is ‘pervasively present and effectively operative.'” But the Faculty Climate Survey found not pervasive Catholicism but a “majority secular liberal point of view” at LMU. As the New York Times indicated, “Students said there were few reminders that they attended a Catholic university at all, aside from the glistening white church at the center of campus or the occasional cross on a classroom wall.”
We respectfully request that you take action to hire more Catholic faculty and keep track of the religious identity of newly hired faculty.
Thank you for considering our requests.
To support this effort to preserve the Catholic identity of LMU,
please sign here and circulate this petition. We also welcome you to include your own comment.
The Cardinal Newman Society ran an article entitled, “Catholic Professors Claim Hostile Environment at Loyola Marymount.” This article draws on a Faculty Climate Survey which reports, “Conservative Catholics feel they are in an environment that is hostile to what they feel are true Catholic values.” We have also heard from several former, current, and prospective LMU professors who believe that de facto litmus tests are used at LMU to exclude professors with Catholic religious beliefs. In some cases, these professors had the ‘wrong’ view (a Catholic view) on marriage. In other cases, they encountered a ‘red flag’ because of their opposition to abortion or because they were perceived as ‘too conservative’ in their religious beliefs. Catholics like these are warmly welcomed into the LMU community as donors, trustees, or parents paying tuition, but these Catholics experience a rather cool reception or outright rejection as professors. We believe that professors with Catholic religious beliefs should be treated fairly in recruitment, hiring, as well as in appointment to committees, directorships, and endowed chairs at Loyola Marymount University.
So, we encourage Catholics who believe they have been subject to unfair treatment to come forward and, confidentially or publicly, to make their voices heard. Tell us about your personal experience. Catholics should not face discrimination, exclusion, or adverse treatment at any university, let alone at a Catholic university funded by many Catholic donors and Catholic parents.
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.”
Recent news made this October an especially important time to educate the campus about the intrinsic value of every single human being. The undercover videos made by The Center for Medical Progress exposed the selling of fetal tissue by Planned Parenthood. On October 5th, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill legalizing physician assisted suicide.
So, with all these life issues in the news, how did LMU celebrate Respect Life Month? Did they have pro-life lectures, a film series, or perhaps make extra efforts to help women with crisis pregnancies or to reverse the legalization of physician assisted suicide? Did they attempt to influence campus opinion on these topics, perhaps by a debate, or posting pro-life quotations from Pope Francis around campus, or hosting reading groups for the Jesuit statement “Standing for the Unborn”?
LMU observed Respect Life Month in exactly the same way in which they celebrated the Year of Faith which Pope Francis brought to a close. LMU did nothing. Not one lecture, not one retreat, not one banner. Doing absolutely nothing for Respect Life Month is a longstanding tradition at LMU, but some traditions are worth changing and worth challenging.
To paraphrase, “Standing for the Unborn,” it is our desire that our Jesuit university begins to offer a consistent message of respect for life, especially for unborn children.
Will LMU do anything to promote the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis starting December 8, 2015?
Will LMU do anything to promote Respect Life Month in October 2016?
We’ll let you know. We are hopeful.
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.