NOTRE DAME, Indiana (LifeSiteNews) – A historically female Catholic college in Indiana plans to begin admitting men who “identify” as women in fall 2024, claiming justification for the move in the words of Pope Francis.
The Daily Signal reports that it obtained an email from Saint Mary’s College President Katie Conboy revealing to faculty that it “will consider undergraduate applicants whose sex assigned at birth [sic] is female or who consistently live and identify as women,” claiming this “message is not only in line with best practices for today’s college students, but that it also encompasses our commitment to operate as a Catholic women’s college” to “honor the dignity of all persons who work at the college” while “retain[ing] our identity as a Catholic women’s college.”
The details of how the policy will be implemented have yet to be finalized but will be left to a President’s Task Force for Gender Identity and Expression, which will gather “information and best practices from other Catholic colleges and women’s colleges” and “present their recommendations on student housing considerations.”
Conboy cites the school’s Non-Discrimination Policy, which was formally approved by the Board of Trustees in June and confirms that “Saint Mary’s considers admission for undergraduate applicants whose sex is female or who consistently live and identify as women.” It says the school “complies with all state and federal laws that prohibit discrimination” and that its “mission” is to “empower women, through education, at all stages in life,” an “essential” component of which is a “diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus experience.” The policy calls this mission “inherently tied to the vision and values of our founders and sponsors, the Sisters of the Holy Cross.”
The email also quotes Pope Francis’s description of love as a “union increasingly directed towards others, considering them of value, worthy, pleasing and beautiful apart from their physical or moral appearances,” from his encyclical Fratelli tutti, which does not discuss transgenderism, as justifying the policy as part of “the appropriate approach to those who are different from ourselves.”
Fox News notes that Pope Francis has elsewhere condemned gender ideology as “one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations” because it “blurs differences and the value of men and women.” However, LifeSiteNews has previously noted that he has also given conflicting signals on the subject, from hosting transgender groups at the Vatican to saying that “transgender” people can be godparents.
“St. Mary’s College is no longer Catholic,” Claire Bettag, a Saint Mary’s junior, told the Signal. “It is no longer a women’s institution. This is fraudulent misrepresentation at best. Every student should be entitled to a refund for fraudulent misrepresentation. An attorney should file a class action lawsuit against the college. They have abandoned their faith, and they’ve abandoned the women. No woman should be forced to share a bathroom or living quarters with a man.”
“In the name of empowering women, St. Mary’s has abandoned women,” said athlete and defender of biology-based rules Riley Gaines. “It would be comical if there weren’t real consequences women have to endure. Men would not put up with this mistreatment and gaslighting for a second. It’s time women take back our spaces, our opportunities, and our language.”
The Signal notes that Saint Mary’s previously refused to allow a campus chapter of the conservative group Turning Point USA, on the grounds that the group’s “messaging around LGBTQ+ issues” did not “align with the mission and values of Saint Mary’s” to be “diverse, inclusive, and equitable.”
It is an article of progressive faith that gender is no more than a matter of self-perception that individuals are free to change at will. But according to modern biology, sex is not a subjective sense of self but an objective scientific reality, established by an individual’s chromosomes from their earliest moments of existence and reflected by hundreds of genetic characteristics. For Christians, the issue is further settled by Genesis 1:27, which teaches that God created both sexes in His image.
Yet for years, LGBT activists have worked to promote “gender fluidity,” the idea that sexual identity is separate from biology and discernible only by personal perception, across public education, libraries, healthcare, and cultural traditions such as beauty contests, school homecomings, and athletic competitions.
Critics warn that their efforts have yielded a wide array of harms, both to the physical and mental health of gender-confused individuals themselves, as well as to the rights, health, and safety of those who disagree, such as girls and women forced to share intimate facilities with males, female athletes forced to compete against biological males with natural physical advantages, and individuals forced to affirm false sexual identities in violation of their consciences, their understanding of scientific fact, and/or their religious beliefs.