By Pablo Kay, Catholic News Service

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez said Nov. 5 he was “deeply disappointed” by Loyola Marymount University’s decision to allow a student group’s fundraiser for Planned Parenthood to go forward later the same day despite thousands of protests against the event.

LMU Women in Politics, a registered student organization, sponsored the fundraiser for the nation’s largest abortion provider on what is the campus of the largest Catholic university in Southern California.

The archbishop said in a statement that he had been in discussions with university officials emphasizing that “respect for the sanctity and dignity of all human life is central to Catholic identity and must be a core commitment in Catholic higher education.”

Archbishop Gomez’s statement came after more than a week of controversy over the event that included Loyola Marymount alumni garnering nearly 20,000 signatures in online petitions calling for it to be canceled.

University officials expressed regret for “the concerns this situation has caused our community members and Catholic partners,” but decided on the afternoon of the fundraiser to allow it to continue.

In a statement issued Nov. 5, the university tried to distance itself from the fundraiser for an organization that received more than $618 million in taxpayer monies and performed more than 350,000 abortions last year.

“The event being held this evening by Women in Politics, an independent student organization, is neither sponsored nor endorsed by LMU,” the statement said. “The university does not support, nor does it fundraise, for Planned Parenthood.”

Critics decried the university’s decision and noted that nowhere in its statement did it express commitment to the Catholic Church’s teachings on human life. Instead, the university expressed commitment to “its Catholic, Jesuit and Marymount values.”

In a letter sent to Loyola Marymount’s president, Timothy Law Snyder, the afternoon of Nov. 5, the university alumna who started the online petition questioned the logic of “explanations from university officials” that the decision to allow the event “shall not be construed as approval” of Planned Parenthood.

“We hope even now that you will make the right choice rather than the politically expedient choice,” wrote alumna Samantha Stephenson, a mother of three and Catholic blogger who credits her time at the Jesuit university with leading her to join the Catholic Church.

In his statement, issued after Loyola Marymount’s statement, Archbishop Gomez stressed that abortion is both a moral wrong and a social injustice.

“From the first century, the Catholic Church has taught that abortion is a moral evil that involves the killing of the unborn child,” he said. “In our day, abortion often victimizes women in poor and minority communities and is used to eliminate children with disabilities.”