Who Am I to Judge?: Pastoral Practices Toward LGBT Students in American Jesuit Colleges

Joan Patricia Cavanagh, Fordham University


The foundation of Catholic social teaching is the inherent dignity of every person. A major tenet of Jesuit education is cura personalis, care for the whole person. These were used to frame this descriptive study that explored the pastoral practices toward LGBT students at the 28 Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) colleges. Campus Ministry plays an important role in extending the Church’s pastoral ministry. Church documents call for respect and dignity for all, including LGBT persons. There have been many tensions between the Church and LGBT persons. There has been little research into how AJCU colleges are caring pastorally for (LGBT) students. Data collected from July to October 2016 revealed that a majority of AJCU members are providing spiritual direction and pastoral conversations to LGBT students, and are welcoming them to serve in liturgical ministries. Beyond that, the pastoral outreach varies greatly. An analysis of the data showed that AJCU institutions with more than 7500 students and those with a Campus Minister designated to LGBT outreach showed more welcome to LGBT students than smaller ones or those without a Campus Minister designated to LGBT outreach. Staffing and funding restrictions limit some AJCU institutions from providing more pastoral care to LGBT students. By increasing collaborative programming with key offices on campus, Campus Ministry can greatly increase pastoral outreach to LGBT students, who might not seek out Campus Ministry.

Subject Area

Religion|LGBTQ studies|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Cavanagh, Joan Patricia, "Who Am I to Judge?: Pastoral Practices Toward LGBT Students in American Jesuit Colleges" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10280626.