An exclusively female Catholic college will now allow men who identify as women to enroll, with the school's revised non-discrimination policy stating that an "inclusive campus experience" is essential to empowering women through education.
Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana, will allow men who present themselves as women to apply for undergraduate admission in the fall of 2024. Notre Dame's student newspaper, The Observer, first reported the news about the change last Tuesday.
College President Katie Conboy told the faculty in an email last Tuesday that the institution will consider trans-identifying applicants. However, the school is still considering how to put the policy change into practice.
Earlier this year, Conboy assembled a "President's Task Force for Gender Identity and Expression" to gather information from other Catholic colleges and make recommendations about student housing policies.
"We are by no means the first Catholic women's college to adopt a policy with this scope," Conboy wrote. "In drafting the language for this update, I have relied on the guidance of the Executive Team and others to ensure that our 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."
Saint Mary's College did not immediately respond to The Christian Post's request for comment.
Clare Ann Ath, a St. Mary's alumna who serves as the government affairs manager for the pro-life group Human Coalition, criticized the decision in a Nov. 21 social media post questioning whether the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend had responded to the situation.
"Just found out my alma mater @saintmarys, an all-women's Catholic college, will be accepting BIOLOGICAL MEN starting next fall," Ath wrote. "This decision is blasphemous & a complete rejection of the Church and it's teachings on gender and sexuality."
According to the school's website, St. Mary's Board of Trustees approved a change to the college's non-discrimination policy in June 2023, a change that states the school considers admission for undergraduate applicants whose sex is female or who consistently live and identify as women. Graduate degree programs are open to all."
The policy further states that the college does not discriminate based on sexuality or gender identity, adding that it's in compliance with all federal laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
"The mission of Saint Mary's College is to empower women, through education, at all stages in life. Essential to this mission is fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus experience," the website states.
In the email sent to faculty members, Conboy cited Pope Francis' quote about loving people for who they are and how that love "'moves us to seek the best for their lives,'" The Daily Signal reported.
"The revised non-discrimination clause seeks to advance just this kind of community, where we honor the dignity of all persons who work at the college and we follow an inclusive admission process that retains our identity as a Catholic women's college," Conboy wrote.
As CP previously reported, Pope Francis invited a group of trans-identifying men to join him and about 1,000 other poor and homeless people for a lunch last Sunday. The event was intended to commemorate the Catholic Church's World Day of the Poor, according to The Associated Press.
According to the AP, Pope Francis grew closer to the group of trans-identifying individuals after he helped them during the COVID-19 pandemic. The group that joined him for the lunch consisted of Latin American migrants and prostitutes who lived in Torvaianica near Rome.
The luncheon came after the Vatican's doctrinal office issued a document explaining that trans-identified individuals can be baptized and serve as godparents in some circumstances.
However, Pope Francis has criticized transgenderism in the past, describing it to La Nacion in March as "one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations." He also noted that there is a difference between pastoral care for LGBT-identifying people and endorsing the lifestyle.