There’s accommodation, there’s tolerance, and then there’s just plain lack of logic.
The goal of any religiously-oriented school, be they Catholic or Jewish or Mormon, is to instill that religion in their students. By the end of their tenure, a student from one of these institutions should either be super Catholic or super Jewish or super Mormon. Given that obvious framework, it seems counter to a Catholic school’s mission statement to provide sex-segregated “safe spaces” for Muslim students to conduct prayer.
According to NPR, “St. Ambrose University in Davenport will open a new prayer space Tuesday for Muslim students,” which will supposedly honor a former professor who taught a course on world religions: Joe DeFrancisco, who died last summer after a 25-year tenure at the school.
“At his funeral, there were people from six different faiths,” says St. Ambrose senior Matt Mahoney.
“Mahoney wanted to make sure DeFrancisco’s legacy of interfaith education lived on,” reports NPR. “So, he met last fall with the university’s Saudi Student Association to turn an idea of DeFrancisco’s into reality.”
“Mahoney worked with the university’s Saudi Student Association to design a space specifically for students of the Islamic faith,” continued NPR. “Some of the features include sinks for ritual foot-washing, and separate areas for male and female worshippers, since Islamic tradition calls for different prayer areas for each sex.”
While teaching, DeFrancisco had the idea of giving Muslim students their own prayer spaces, because they “didn’t really have a substantial enough prayer rooms on campus.”
To put it bluntly: of course St. Ambrose didn’t have a substantial enough prayer room for Muslims on campus; it’s a Catholic school. Nobody forced the Muslim students to attend there. A Catholic school preaching tolerance and compassion toward Muslim students is righteous, but a Catholic school giving Muslims a sex-segregated prayer space is basically a secular institution with a crucifix on it. Either it’s teaching students to become better Catholics or it’s teaching students to become good millennials; it can’t do both.
“Being able to say that we’re committed to these Muslim students, and to all students—students of all different faiths—is really outstanding,” said Mahoney. “It’s uniquely Ambrosian, and it just sort of shows our commitment to all different faiths.”
A Catholic school should be committed to only one faith while preaching compassion for others. To do anything else is entirely unCatholic.