A Catholic University has decided to open up a sex-segregated Islamic prayer space.
St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, inaugurated a new prayer space for Muslim students this week, co-designed by the Saudi Student Association.
The new prayer space, which is equipped with sinks for ritual foot-washing and separate areas for male and female worshippers, was built in memory of Father Joe DeFrancisco, a professor of comparative religions who died last July at the age of 69.
There are defenders of the idea.
According to senior Student Government Association President Matthew Mahoney, the idea for a dedicated Islamic prayer space began with a suggestion by DeFrancisco himself, who felt that Muslim students “didn’t really have a substantial enough prayer rooms on campus.”
“This is a truly appropriate way to honor Fr. Joe,” said Sister Joan Lescinski, president of the college. “His openness to all members of the Quad Cities faith community was a living example of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.”
“Former students still talk about the impact visits to temples and mosques had on them as members of his Comparative Religions class,” she added.
“Being able to say that we’re committed to these Muslim students, and to all students—students of all different faiths—is really outstanding,” Mahoney said.
“It’s uniquely Ambrosian, and it just sort of shows our commitment to all different faiths.”
Critics of this move are pointing to the fact this school’s mission is supposed to be teaching students how to be Catholics. The idea that a Catholic orientated school would implement something for the Islamic faith is against the mission of the school.