An all-girls Catholic college has changed its admissions policy to admit men who identify as women.
Saint Mary’s College, which first opened its doors in 1844 in the conservative reaches of Notre Dame, Indiana, announced it has adopted a policy that will “now consider admission for undergraduate applicants whose sex is female or who consistently live and identify as women.”
In a statement on the new transgender admissions policy, College President Katie Conboy said that admitting men who identify as women “encompasses our commitment to operate as a Catholic women’s college.”
Indiana Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese does not agree.
In a Nov. 27 statement posted on the Diocese website, he called the new policy “at odds with Catholic teaching” and asked the school to “correct” the policy and reject ideologies that contradict the teachings of the Catholic church on “human person, sex, and gender.”
“The desire of Saint Mary’s College to show hospitality to people who identify as transgender is not the problem. The problem is a Catholic women’s college embracing a definition of woman that is not Catholic,” the bishop wrote in a Nov. 27 letter posted on the Diocese website.
Bishop Rhoades also said he was disappointed that he wasn’t consulted or informed about the policy, saying “Bishops have a particular responsibility to promote and assist in the preservation and strengthening of the Catholic identity of the Catholic colleges and universities in their dioceses.”
He also said the school violated its obligation to abide by the teaching authority of the Church “in matters of faith and morals.”
“In this new admissions policy, Saint Mary’s departs from fundamental Catholic teaching on the nature of woman and thus compromises its very identity as a Catholic woman’s college,” he wrote.
Bishop Rhoades made several references to an email Mrs. Conboy sent out to students, parents, and faculty announcing the new policy.
Of them was Mrs. Conboy’s naming of Pope Francis’s “revised non-discrimination clause” to advance the LGBTQ+ community in the church as an inspiration behind the decision to enroll transgender students.
Mrs. Conboy did not respond to inquiries from The Epoch Times about the issue.
According to St. Mary’s College newspaper The Observer, Mrs. Conboy wrote in her email that the school is “by no means the first Catholic women’s college to adopt a policy with this scope.”
Campus Pride, a national organization dedicated to promoting “trans-inclusive” policies at colleges, lists several all-women colleges that accept transgenders. There are three Catholic colleges among them: St. Catherine University and College of St. Benedict, both in Minnesota, and Mount Mary University in Wisconsin.
Catholic schools in general have come under fire by some church officials for caving to the LGBT lobby.
Earlier this year, the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts condemned Fontbonne Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school in Brookline, for choosing a graduation speaker who goes by the nickname of “big ol' dyke.”
Following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, The Observer questioned why President Conboy hadn’t made any statement about the landmark Supreme Court decision.
Mrs. Conboy responded by saying it “was very hard to think about how to respond in a meaningful way that would reflect all of [Saint Mary’s] identity,” the paper reported.
The college, which was founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame, a conservative order of Catholic nuns, seems to have grown increasingly liberal over the years.
In September Saint Mary’s College Campus Ministry held an event entitled “God is PROUD of you: LGBTQ+ Catholicism.”
“Looks like God put a perfect little rainbow on our campus,” a college advertisement said in promoting the event.
According to The Observer, Mrs. Conboy said she put together a “President’s Task Force for Gender Identity and Expression” earlier this year to help come up with the new acceptance policy for transgender students.
Comments by St. Mary’s graduates both for and against was included in the article.
“Absolute pandering,” 2015 graduate Emily McNally wrote in an Instagram comment, according to the college paper, “If SMC really believed that a man who says he is a woman is a woman, they would force incoming freshmen to room with such a person.”
Others vowed to stop making donations to the college unless they abandoned the new policy.
“Not one more dime, nor my advocacy for the college will continue unless they reverse this course,” Priscilla Pilon, a 1986 graduate of St. Mary wrote on Facebook, according to The Observer.
Others, like 2008 graduate Renee Powers, hailed the policy, saying on Instagram, “So proud of my alma mater!” and current senior Katie Hunter was quoted as saying “smc was founded to educate ALL women not just cis women!”
X is filled with thousands of posts blasting St. Mary’s for admitting men who identify women to an all-women’s school.
“Academia continues to abandon women,” wrote Carla Sands, a former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark and current Vice Chair of Energy and Development at The American First Policy Institute.
Bishop Rhoades said that while “no doubt Saint Mary’s College desires to promote love, inclusion, and acceptance,” it “does not do so authentically when it separates love from truth.”
“It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality,” he wrote.
“Let us not fall into the sin of trying to replace the Creator.”