By Kathleen Gilbert
LOS ANGELES, September 28, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - California's Loyola Marymount University (LMU) has become the third Jesuit institution of higher education in the U.S. to establish an office dedicated to ministering to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.
California Catholic Daily pointed out a Sept 20 article in the LMU student newspaper, The Loyolan, celebrating the launch of the Office for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Student Services (GLBTSS) under the Division of Student Affairs. The article welcomed the event as “a milestone in LMU’s history—and the history of Jesuit universities.”
Unlike the school's student-run Gay Straight Alliance club, the GLBTSS will supply professional staff to minister to LGBT students, following in the footsteps of Georgetown University and Gonzaga University. Dr. Lane Bove, senior vice president for Student Affairs, described the office's role as promoting "equality, visibility and inclusion of LGBT students within the LMU community" as well as "advocacy and support for the LGBT student community" and engaging "regular dialogues about the intersection of sexual orientation and gender identity with issues of faith, religion and culture.”
Rev. Robert Scholla, S.J., the rector of the LMU Jesuit Community, told the student paper in the Sept 20 article that he considered the new office "a great thing that has happened.” Several professors agreed.
"Not only does the University community have something to learn from the LGBT office, staff and students, but there is also an opportunity here for education about the Church’s broader position on sexual morality, and on its pastoral support and outreach to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons in particular," philosophy department chair Sr. Mary Beth Ingham, C.S.J., told the paper.
At the Web site of LMU's Intercultural Affairs/Sexual and Gender Identity Office, the school states a commitment to "developing socially responsible men and women" who will "learn to value the unique qualities of diverse cultures." Notably, the graphic for the office's site includes a photograph of a young woman holding a sign protesting Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment in California establishing the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.
The school's Gay Straight Alliance club flaunts a sexually promiscuous image, promoting trips to "some hot clubs" and displaying fleeting moments of homosexual intimacy among students in a 2008 compilation video. The school's financial aid office also points students toward scholarships for homosexual students.
Such openness to homosexual "culture" was not always the story at LMU.
Homosexualists were pushing the limits at LMU as far back as 1990, when the Alliance of Gays and Lesbians held an event on campus despite then-university President James Loughran rejecting their bid for official group status. According to a Los Angeles Times article, Loughran issued an unsigned statement urging the school to support homosexual individuals, but affirming that the university "cannot endorse or condone ... a sexually active homosexual lifestyle."
When LifeSiteNews.com sought clarification on LMU's change in policy, a form response was provided outlining the office's goals of inclusivity and stating that "being gay or lesbian is not a sin," that the Catholic Church recognizes only marriage between a man and a woman, and that LMU urges celibacy among non-married students. "The Church’s position beyond that is pastoral, one of outreach and counseling a life of celibacy to the LGBT community," stated the document. "We realize that this may be a difficult cross to bear, but the Church only approves of sexual relations between a man and a woman within the confines of marriage."
The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles did not return a request for comment.
In an opinion column found in the September 23 issue of the Loyolan, student Kenneth Valahos echoed Loughran's sentiments two decades ago, saying that "the University should make one thing perfectly clear in writing, side-by-side with the mission statement of the LGBT office: We love and support the LGBT student, but we do not support the sin of a homosexual lifestyle.”
"The image of the LMU Lion, brave and courageous, seems hollow when the University cowers to biblically immoral special interest groups like the LGBT community," he wrote.
"When applying to LMU, students are lured in with the promise of a Catholic education, but once they get here, they realize their tuition is in part funding an organization which the Roman Catholic Church does not support. Is this just?"
David W. Burcham, Interim President, LMU