Loyola Marymount community objects to dean's links to abortion groups

Loyola Marymount community objects to dean's links to abortion groups

Loyola Marymount University’s appointment of an atheist dean with a record of service to abortion-supporting groups suggests the university may be unable to sustain its Catholic identity, one alumni group has charged.

“The current process for attracting, qualifying, and vetting candidates for senior positions, as this appointment demonstrates, is inadequate to preserve the Catholic character of Loyola Marymount University for very much longer,” the group RenewLMU said April 28.

On April 16, the Jesuit university announced the appointment of Robbin Crabtree as dean of its Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts. The position oversees bioethics, theological studies, philosophy, and Catholic studies at the university. The dean is also involved in faculty hiring decisions.

RenewLMU, a self-described group of students, alumni, faculty, donors and other university supporters concerned about the university’s Catholic mission, questioned whether Crabtree was an appropriate choice to oversee “mission critical” departments.

Loyola Marymount University President David W. Burcham, in an April 16 letter to the Board of Regents, said that criticisms of her candidacy have been “exaggerated and inaccurate.”

Crabtree is presently dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University, a Jesuit institution in Connecticut.

Her Curriculum Vitae notes her service on the advisory board and media relations committee for Planned Parenthood of Putnam County in Indiana from 1991-1993.

In 2001 and 2002, she was a member of the New Mexico group Las Adelitas Women in Politics. While Crabtree’s Curriculum Vitae describes the group as an organization to promote women’s candidates for public office in New Mexico, the group has been involved in promoting pro-abortion candidates.

Burcham said that Crabtree’s involvement with the “budding” political organization was “brief” and the organization “changed significantly” since she left it. He said her involvement with Planned Parenthood consisted of serving as an “outside consultant” to a new Planned Parenthood-sponsored women’s health center. This work was in communications “aimed at engaging underserved women in the community to increase their awareness of the clinic’s basic healthcare services.”

Burcham said the university’s only “litmus test” in hiring is that “a candidate must fully support our mission of academic excellence in the Jesuit and Marymount traditions and commit himself/herself to furthering this mission through their professional life at LMU.”

The university president’s comments were largely echoed in an April 16 letter from Father Robert V. Caro, S.J., to alumni and parents. He said that concerns being raised about Crabtree’s past associations “do not reflect her recent involvements or reputation and appear to ignore her distinguished record.”

RenewLMU objected that there is no indication that Crabtree has disavowed these groups or their philosophical positions. The group noted that the university’s mission includes the “promotion of justice” and the “service of faith.”

“If abortion is really a matter of justice and faith, and of our Jesuit and Marymount traditions, then appointing someone who has provided years of service to the largest abortion provider in the United States to oversee Bioethics, Theological Studies, and Philosophy is deeply problematic.”

The group said that Burcham would never hire someone who had served an organization that favors racial segregation and racial injustice unless that person had “radically and publicly repudiated this involvement.” It argued that the university president should not ignore the “prenatal injustice” of abortion.

Burcham’s letter also acknowledged that Crabtree has described herself as an “atheist / secular Jew.” He said she did this in the context of “saying she had found a home in Jesuit and Catholic higher education.” He said the university does not have faith requirements, an approach he described as being “in the spirit” of the Society of Jesus’ General Congregation statements about partnership between Jesuits and their colleagues of all religious beliefs or no religious belief.

“I have no doubt that Dr. Crabtree meets our sole test—being able to support and further LMU’s Jesuit/Marymount/Catholic mission and identity,” he said.

RenewLMU charged that the university “selectively withheld” information about Crabtree’s religious beliefs, saying that they were not widely known until her appointment was announced. Fr. Caro’s letter to alumni only said that she “does not share our Catholic faith.”
 
The other dean candidate finalist, Dr. Ramón Gutiérrez, had also sparked controversy. An American history professor at the University of Chicago, he served as a consultant for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America on the topic of Hispanic attitudes toward sexuality. He was also a member of the Organization of American Historians’ Committee of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Historians and Histories, which opposed a California ballot measure defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Founded in 1911, Loyola Marymount University is located in Los Angeles. It has about 9,500 students in its undergraduate, graduate, and law school programs.


Voices

Seeking the face of God in the Scriptures

Archbishop José H. Gomez

Prayer is seeking the face of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls the story of how St. John Vianney once found a peasant praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The saint asked him what he was doing, and the man replied: “I look at him and he looks at me.”

Events

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February 13, 2016

  • Saturday, February 13

    World Day of the Sick Mass, Mass and Anointing of the Sick, 12:30 p.m., Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,  555 W Temple St, Los Angeles. Archbishop Gomez presiding with other bishops and priests. Special section designated for those in wheelchairs with volunteers available to help. Limited parking available for $8. Carpooling is encouraged. For more info: Chuck Huebner at cjhuebner @gmail.com or Jim LoCoco at flavialococ0@msn.com.

     

     

    Bosco Tech’s Yurak Memorial Run & Kids’ Fun Run, Check in begins at 8 a.m., Memorial Run at 9 a.m., Fun Run at 10 a.m., Bosco Tech, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead. Race registration is $35 per person. For school groups of 10 or more, the cost is $30. To register online, go to www.boscotech.edu/events or www.yurak.eventbrite.com; same-day registration available at check-in table. Included: racing fees, finisher medal, goodie bag and BBQ lunch. Plaques will be awarded to the top five male and female runners and to the fastest runner under 18.All proceeds to benefit Bosco Tech’s Yurak Athletic Center (YAC). 

     

    Cabrini Literary Guild “Sweetheart Bingo” Meeting, Sat., Feb.13 at Oakmont Country Club, 3100 Country Club Drive, Glendale. Meeting starts at 11 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m. ($30/person), and bingo social at 1 p.m. Bingo cards are $5 each, or $20 for five cards. For reservations, call (818) 790-3485.

     

    Footprints: Making Tracks for Neighbors in Need, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m., Bishop Amat High School track, 14301 Fairgrove Ave., La Puente. Catholic Charities San Gabriel Region will present this annual walk/run fundraiser to increase awareness about poverty, hunger and homelessness in the San Gabriel Region. Proceeds benefit those lacking basic needs, such as food, clothing, transportation and shelter. This is a come anytime, leave anytime event, with the first lap around the track to be led by Bishop David O'Connell. For more information, visit lentenfootprints.yolasite.com or contact Mary Romero at (213) 251-3582 or mromero@ccharities.org.

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