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The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education
Address by Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J.
Santa Clara University, October 6, 2000

In October 2000, Santa Clara University hosted a conference on the "Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education," with representatives from all twenty-eight Jesuit Colleges and Universities in the United States. This conference marked the 25th anniversary of Decree 4 of the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, "Our Mission Today: The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice."  The Superior General of the Jesuits, Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, participated in this 2000 Justice conference at Santa Clara University, and offered the now historic keynote address: "The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education."  Fr. Kolvenbach's address was widely endorsed by top administrators across the Jesuit network and marked a renewed commitment to justice within Jesuit colleges and universities throughout the United States.

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This conference on the commitment to justice in American Jesuit higher education comes at an important moment in the rich history of the 28 colleges and universities represented here this evening. We also join Santa Clara University in celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding.

Just as significant as this moment in history, is our location. Santa Clara Valley, named after the mission at the heart of this campus, is known worldwide as “Silicon Valley,” the home of the microchip. Surely when Father Nobili, the founder of this University, saw the dilapidated church and compound of the former Franciscan mission, he could never have imagined this valley as the center of a global technological revolution.

This juxtaposition of mission and microchip is emblematic of all the   Jesuit schools. Originally founded to serve the educational and religious needs of poor immigrant populations, they have become highly sophisticated institutions of learning in the midst of global wealth, power, and culture. The turn of the millennium finds them in all their diversity: they are larger, better equipped, more complex and professional than ever before, and also more concerned about their Catholic, Jesuit identity.

In the history of American Jesuit higher education, there is much to be grateful for, first to God and the Church, and surely to the many faculty, students, administrators, and benefactors who have made it what it is today. But this conference brings you together from across the United States with guests from Jesuit universities elsewhere, not to congratulate one another, but for a strategic purpose. On behalf of the complex, professional, and pluralistic institutions you represent, you are here to face a question as difficult as it is central: How can the Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States express faith-filled concern for justice in  what they are as Christian academies of higher learning, in what their faculty do, and in what their students become?

As a contribution to your response, I would like to I.) reflect with you on what faith and justice has meant for Jesuits since 1975, and then II.) con- sider some concrete circumstances of today, III.) to suggest what justice rooted in faith could mean in American Jesuit higher education, and IV.) conclude with an agenda for the first decade of the new century.

I. The Jesuit commitment to faith and justice, new in 1975

I begin by recalling another anniversary, which this conference commemorates. Twenty-five years ago, 10 years after the closing of the Second Vatican Council, Jesuit delegates from around the world gathered at the 32nd General Congregation (GC), to consider how the Society of Jesus was responding to the deep transformation of all Church life that was called for and launched by Vatican II.

After much prayer and deliberation, the Congregation slowly realized that the entire Society of Jesus in all its many works was being invited by the Spirit of God to set out in a new direction. The overriding purpose of the Society of Jesus, namely “the service of faith,” must also include “the promotion of justice.” This new direction was not confined to those already working with the poor and marginalized in what was called “the social apostolate.” Rather, this commitment was to be “a concern of our whole life and a dimension of all our apostolic endeavors.”1 So central to the mission of the entire Society was this union of faith and justice that it was to become the “integrating factor” of all the Society’s works,2 and in this light “great attention” was to be paid in evaluating every work, including educational institutions.3

I myself attended GC 32, representing the Province of the Near East where, for centuries, the apostolic activity of the Jesuits has concentrated on education in a famous university and some outstanding high schools. Of course some Jesuits worked in very poor villages, refugee camps or prisons, and some fought for the rights of workers, immigrants, and foreigners; but this was not always considered authentic, mainstream Jesuit work. In Beirut we were well aware that our medical school, staffed by very holy Jesuits, was producing, at least at that time, some of the most corrupt citizens in the city, but this was taken for granted. The social mood of the explosive Near East did not favor a struggle against sinful, unjust structures. The liberation of Palestine was the most important social issue. The Christian churches had committed themselves to many works of charity, but involvement in the promotion of justice would have tainted them by association with leftist movements and political turmoil.

The situation I describe in the Near East was not exceptional in the worldwide Society at that time. I was not the only delegate who was ignorant of matters pertaining to justice and injustice. The 1971 Synod of Bishops had prophetically declared, “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the gospel, or, in other words, of the church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation,”4   but few of us knew what this meant in our concrete circumstances.

Earlier, in 1966, Father Arrupe had pointed out to the Latin American Provincials how the socio-economic situation throughout the continent contradicted the Gospel, and “from this situation rises the moral obligation of the Society to rethink all its ministries and every form of its apostolates to see if they really offer a response to the urgent priorities which justice and social equity call for.”5 Many of us failed to see the relevance of his message to our situation. But please note that Father Arrupe did not ask for the suppression of the apostolate of education in favor of social activity. On the contrary, he affirmed that “even an apostolate like education—at all levels—which is so sincerely wanted by the Society and whose importance is clear to the entire world, in its concrete forms today must be the object of reflection in the light of the demands of the social problem.”6

Perhaps the incomprehension or reluctance of some of us delegates was one reason why GC 32 finally took a radical stand. With a passion both inspiring and disconcerting, the General Congregation coined the formula, “the service of faith and the promotion of justice,” and used it adroitly to push every Jesuit work and every individual Jesuit to make a choice, providing little leeway for the fainthearted. Many inside and outside the Society were outraged by the “promotion of justice.” As Father Arrupe rightly perceived, his Jesuits were collectively entering upon a more severe way of the cross, which would surely entail misunderstandings and even opposition on the part of civil and ecclesiastical authorities, many good friends, and some of our own members. Today, 25 years later, this option has become integral to our Jesuit identity, to the awareness of our mission, and to our public image in both Church and society.7

The summary expression “the service of faith and the promotion of justice” has all the characteristics of a world-conquering slogan using a minimum of words to inspire a maximum of dynamic vision, but at the risk of ambiguity. Let us examine, first the service of faith, then the promotion of justice.

A. The service of faith

From our origins in 1540 the Society has been officially and solemnly charged with “the defense and the propagation of the faith.” In 1975, the Congregation reaffirmed that, for us Jesuits, the defense and propagation of the faith is a matter of to be or not to be, even if the words themselves can change. Faithful to the Vatican Council, the Congregation wanted our preaching and teaching not to proselytize, not to impose our religion on others, but rather to propose Jesus and his message of God’s Kingdom in a spirit of love to everyone.

Just as the Vatican had abandoned the name “Propaganda Fidei,” GC 32 passed from propagation to service of faith. In Decree 4, the Congregation did use the expression “the proclamation of faith,” which I prefer.8 In the context of centuries of Jesuit spirituality, however, “the service of faith” cannot mean anything other than to bring the counter-cultural gift of Christ to our world.9 But why “the service of faith”? The Congregation itself answers this question by using the Greek expression “diakonia fidei.”10 It refers to Christ the suffering Servant carrying out his “diako- nia” in total service of his Father by laying down his life for the salvation of all. Thus, for a Jesuit, “not just any response to the needs of the men and women of today will do. The initiative must come from the Lord laboring in events and people here and now. God invites us to follow Christ in his labors, on his terms and in his way.”11

I do not think we delegates at the 32nd Congregation were aware of the theological and ethical dimensions of Christ’s mission of service. Greater attention to the “diakonia fidei” may have prevented some of the misunderstandings provoked by the phrase “the promotion of justice.”

B. The promotion of justice

This expression is difficult to translate in many languages. We delegates were familiar with sales promotions in a department store or the promotion of friends or enemies to a higher rank or position; we were not familiar with the promotion of justice. To be fair, let us remember that a general congregation is not a scientific academy equipped to distinguish and to define, to clarify and to classify. In the face of radically new apostolic needs, it chose to inspire, to teach, and even to prophesy. In its desire to be more incisive in the promotion of justice, the Congregation avoided traditional words like charity, mercy, or love, unfashionable words in 1975. Neither philanthropy nor even development would do. The Congregation instead used the word “promotion” with its connotation of a well-planned strategy to make the world just.  

Since Saint Ignatius wanted love to be expressed not only in words but also in deeds, the Congregation committed the Society to the promotion of justice as a concrete, radical but proportionate response to an unjustly suffering world. Fostering the virtue of justice in people was not enough. Only a substantive justice can bring about the kinds of structural and attitudinal changes that are needed to uproot those sinful oppressive injustices that are a scandal against humanity and God.

This sort of justice requires an action-oriented commitment to the poor with a courageous personal option. In some ears the relatively mild expression, “promotion of justice,” echoed revolutionary, subversive, and even violent language. For example, the American State Department recently accused some Colombian Jesuits of being Marxist-inspired founders of a guerilla organization. When challenged, the U.S. government apologized for this mistake, which shows that some message did get through.

Just as in “diakonia fidei” the term faith is not specified, so in the “promotion of justice,” the term justice also remains ambiguous. The 32nd Congregation would not have voted for Decree 4 if, on the one hand, socio-economic justice had been excluded or if, on the other hand, the justice of the Gospel had not been included. A stand in favor of social justice that was almost ideological, and simultaneously a strong option for “that justice of the Gospel which embodies God’s love and saving mercy”12 were both indispensable. Refusing to clarify the relationship between the two, GC 32 maintained its radicality by simply juxtaposing “diakonia   fidei” and “promotion of justice.”

In other decrees of the same Congregation, when the two dimensions of the one mission of the Society were placed together, some delegates sought to achieve a more integrated expression by proposing amendments such as the service of faith through or in the promotion of justice. Such expressions might better render the 1971 Synod’s identification of “action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world [as] a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the gospel.”13 But one can understand the Congregation’s fear that too neat or integrated an approach might weaken the prophetic appeal and water down the radical change in our mission.

In retrospect, this simple juxtaposition sometimes led to an “incomplete, slanted and unbalanced reading” of Decree 4,14 unilaterally emphasizing “one aspect of this mission to the detriment of the other,”15 treating faith and justice as alternative or even rival tracks of ministry. “Dogmatism or ideology sometimes led us to treat each other more as adversaries than as companions. The promotion of justice has sometimes been separated from its wellspring of faith.”16

On the one side, the faith dimension was too often presumed and left implicit, as if our identity as Jesuits were enough. Some rushed headlong toward the promotion of justice without much analysis or reflection and with only occasional reference to the justice of the Gospel. They seemed to consign the service of faith to a dying past. 

Those on the other side clung to a certain style of faith and Church. They gave the impression that God’s grace had to do only with the next life, and that divine reconciliation entailed no practical obligation to set things right here on earth.

In this frank assessment I have used, not so much my own words but rather those of subsequent Congregations, so as to share with you the whole Society’s remorse for whatever distortions or excesses occurred, and to demonstrate how, over the last 25 years, the Lord has patiently been teaching us to serve the faith that does justice in a more integral way.

C. The ministry of education

In the midst of radical statements and unilateral interpretations associated with Decree 4, many raised doubts about our maintaining large educational institutions. They insinuated, if they did not insist, that direct social work among the poor and involvement with their movements should take priority. Today, however, the value of the educational apostolate is generally recognized, being the sector occupying the greatest Jesuit manpower and resources, but only on condition that it transform its goals, contents, and methods.

 Even before GC 32, Father Arrupe had already fleshed out the meaning of “diakonia fidei” for educational ministries when he told the 1973 International Congress of Jesuit Alumni of Europe: “Today our prime educational objective must be to form men for others; men who will live not for themselves but for God and his Christ—for the God-man who lived and died for all the world; men who cannot even conceive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbors; men completely convinced that love of God which does not issue in justice for men is a farce.”17 My predecessor’s address was not well received by many alumni at the Valencia meeting, but the expression, “men and women for others,” really helped the educational institutions of the Society to ask serious questions that led to their transformation.18

 Father Ignacio Ellacuría, in his 1982 convocation address here at Santa Clara University, eloquently expressed his conviction in favor of the promotion of justice in the educational apostolate: “A Christian university must take into account the Gospel preference for the poor. This does not mean that only the poor study at the university; it does not mean that the university should abdicate its mission of academic excellence—excellence needed in order to solve complex social problems. It does mean that the university should be present intellectually where it is needed: to provide science for those who have no science; to provide skills for the unskilled; to be a voice for those who do not possess the academic qualifications to promote and legitimate their rights.”19

In these two statements, we discover the same concern to go beyond a disincarnate spiritualism or a secular social activism, so as to renew the educational apostolate in word and in action at the service of the Church in a world of unbelief and of injustice. We should be very grateful for all that has been achieved in this apostolate, both faithful to the characteristics of 400 years of Ignatian education and open to the changing signs of the times. Today, one or two generations after Decree 4, we face a world that has an even greater need for the faith that does justice.

II. A “composition” of our time and place

The 25-year history we lived through and have briefly surveyed brings us to the present. Ignatius of Loyola begins many meditations in his Spiritual Exercises with “a composition of place,” an exercise of the imagination to situate prayerful contemplation in concrete human circumstances. Since this world is the arena of God’s presence and activity, Ignatius believes that we can find God if we approach the world with generous faith and a discerning spirit.

 Meeting in Silicon Valley brings to mind, not only the intersection of the mission and the microchip, but also the dynamism and even dominance that are characteristics of the United States at this time. Enormous talent and unprecedented prosperity are concentrated in this country, which spawns 64 new millionaires every day. This is the headquarters of the new economy that reaches around the globe and is transforming the basic fabric of business, work, and communications. Thousands of immigrants arrive from everywhere: entrepreneurs from Europe, high-tech professionals from South Asia who staff the service industries as well as workers from Latin America and Southeast Asia who do the physical labor—thus, a remarkable ethnic, cultural, and class diversity.

At the same time the United States struggles with new social divisions aggravated by “the digital divide” between those with access to the world of technology and those left out. This rift, with its causes in class, racial, and economic differences, has its root cause in chronic discrepancies in the quality of education. Here in Silicon Valley, for example, some of the world’s premier research universities flourish alongside struggling public schools where Afro-American and immigrant students drop out in droves. Nationwide, one child in every six is condemned to ignorance and poverty.

This valley, this nation, and the whole world look very different from the way they looked 25 years ago. With the collapse of Communism and the end of the Cold War, national and even international politics have been eclipsed by a resurgent capitalism that faces no ideological rival. The European Union slowly pulls the continent’s age-old rivals together into a community but also a fortress. The former “Second World” struggles to repair the human and environmental damage left behind by so-called socialist regimes. Industries are relocating to poorer nations, not to distribute wealth and opportunity, but to exploit the relative advantage of low wages and lax environmental regulations. Many countries become yet poorer, especially where corruption and exploitation prevail over civil society and where violent conflict keeps erupting.

This composition of our time and place embraces six billion people with their faces young and old, some being born and others dying, some white and many brown and yellow and black.20 Each one a unique individual, they all aspire to live life, to use their talents, to support their families and care for their children and elders, to enjoy peace and security, and to make tomorrow better.

Thanks to science and technology, human society is able to solve problems such as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, or developing more just conditions of life, but remains stubbornly unable to accomplish this. How can a booming economy, the most prosperous and global ever, still leave over half of humanity in poverty? GC 32 makes its own sober analysis and moral assessment: “We can no longer pretend that the inequalities and injustices of our world must be borne as part of the inevitable order of things. It is now quite apparent that they are the result of what man himself, man in his selfishness, has done… Despite the opportunities offered by an ever more serviceable technology, we are simply not willing to pay the price of a more just and more humane society.”21 

Injustice is rooted in a spiritual problem, and its solution requires a spiritual conversion of each one’s heart and a cultural conversion of our global society so that humankind, with all the powerful means at its disposal, might exercise the will to change the sinful structures afflicting our world. The yearly Human Development Report of the United Nations is a haunting challenge to look critically at basic conditions of life in the United States and the 175 other nations that share our one planet.22

Such is the world in all its complexity, with great global promises and countless tragic betrayals. Such is the world in which Jesuit institutions of higher education are called to serve faith and promote justice.

III. American Jesuit Higher Education for faith and justice

Within the complex time and place we are in, and in the light of the recent General Congregations, I want to spell out several ideal characteristics, as manifest in three complementary dimensions of Jesuit higher education: in who our students become, in what our faculty do, and in how our universities proceed. When I speak of ideals, some are easy to meet, others remain persistently challenging, but together they serve to orient our schools and, in the long run, to identify them. At the same time, the U.S. Provincials have recently established an important Higher Education Committee to propose criteria on the staffing, leadership, and Jesuit sponsorship of our colleges and universities.23 May these criteria help to implement the ideal characteristics we now meditate on together.

A. Formation and learning

Today’s predominant ideology reduces the human world to a global jungle whose primordial law is the survival of the fittest. Students who subscribe to this view want to be equipped with well-honed professional and technical skills in order to compete in the market and secure one of the relatively scarce fulfilling and lucrative jobs available. This is the success which many students (and parents!) expect.

All American universities, ours included, are under tremendous pressure to opt entirely for success in this sense. But what our students want—and deserve—includes but transcends this “worldly success” based on marketable skills. The real measure of our Jesuit universities lies in who our students become.

For 450 years, Jesuit education has sought to educate “the whole person” intellectually and professionally, psychologically, morally and spiritually. But in the emerging global reality, with its great possibilities and deep contradictions, the whole person is different from the whole person of the Counter-Reformation, the Industrial Revolution, or the 20th century. Tomorrow’s “whole person” cannot be whole without an educated awareness of society and culture with which to contribute socially, generously, in the real world. Tomorrow’s whole person must have, in brief, a well- educated solidarity.

We must therefore raise our Jesuit educational standard to “educate the whole person of solidarity for the real world.” Solidarity is learned through “contact” rather than through “concepts,” as the Holy Father said recently at an Italian university conference.24   When the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change. Personal involvement with innocent suffering, with the injustice others suffer, is the catalyst for solidarity which then gives rise to intellectual inquiry and moral reflection.

Students, in the course of their formation, must let the gritty reality of this world into their lives, so they can learn to feel it, think about it critically, respond to its suffering, and engage it constructively. They should learn to perceive, think, judge, choose, and act for the rights of others, especially the disadvantaged and the oppressed. Campus ministry does much to foment such intelligent, responsible, and active compassion, compassion that deserves the name solidarity.

Our universities also boast a splendid variety of in-service programs, outreach programs, insertion programs, off-campus contacts, and hands-on courses. These should not be too optional or peripheral, but at the core of every Jesuit university’s program of studies.

Our students are involved in every sort of social action—tutoring drop- outs, demonstrating in Seattle, serving in soup kitchens, promoting pro- life, protesting against the School of the Americas—and we are proud of them for it. But the measure of Jesuit universities is not what our students do but who they become and the adult Christian responsibility they will exercise in future toward their neighbor and their world. For now, the activities they engage in, even with much good effect, are for their formation. This does not make the university a training camp for social activists. Rather, the students need close involvement with the poor and the marginal now, in order to learn about reality and become adults of solidarity in the future.

B. Research and teaching

If the measure and purpose of our universities lies in what the students become, then the faculty are at the heart of our universities. Their mission is tirelessly to seek the truth and to form each student into a whole person of solidarity who will take responsibility for the real world. What do they need in order to fulfill this essential vocation?

The faculty’s “research, which must be rationally rigorous, firmly rooted in faith and open to dialogue with all people of good will,”25 not only   obeys the canons of each discipline, but ultimately embraces human reality in order to help make the world a more fitting place for six billion of   us to inhabit. I want to affirm that university knowledge is valuable for its own sake and at the same time is knowledge that must ask itself, “For whom? For what?”26

Usually we speak of professors in the plural, but what is at stake is more than the sum of so many individual commitments and efforts. It is a sustained interdisciplinary dialogue of research and reflection, a continuous pooling of expertise. The purpose is to assimilate experiences and insights according to their different disciplines in “a vision of knowledge which, well aware of its limitations, is not satisfied with fragments but tries to integrate them into a true and wise synthesis”27 about the real world. Unfortunately many faculty still feel academically, humanly, and I would say spiritually unprepared for such an exchange.

In some disciplines such as the life sciences, the social sciences, law, business, or medicine, the connections with “our time and place” may seem more obvious. These professors apply their disciplinary specialties to issues of justice and injustice in their research and teaching about health care, legal aid, public policy, and international relations. But every field or branch of knowledge has values to defend, with repercussions on the ethical level. Every discipline, beyond its necessary specialization, must engage with human society, human life, and the environment in appropriate ways, cultivating moral concern about how people ought to live together.

All professors, in spite of the cliché of the ivory tower, are in contact with the world. But no point of view is ever neutral or value-free. By preference, by option, our Jesuit point of view is that of the poor. So our professors’ commitment to faith and justice entails a most significant shift in viewpoint and choice of values. Adopting the point of view of those who suffer injustice, our professors seek the truth and share their search and its results with our students. A legitimate question, even if it does not sound academic, is for each professor to ask, “When researching and teaching, where and with whom is my heart?” To expect our professors to make such an explicit option and speak about it is obviously not easy; it entails risks. But I do believe that this is what Jesuit educators have publicly stated, in Church and in society, to be our defining commitment.

To make sure that the real concerns of the poor find their place in research, faculty members need an organic collaboration with those in the Church and in society who work among and for the poor and actively seek justice. They should be involved together in all aspects: presence among the poor, designing the research, gathering the data, thinking through problems, planning and action, doing evaluation and theological reflection. In each Jesuit Province where our universities are found, the faculty’s privileged working relationships should be with projects of the Jesuit social apostolate—on issues such as poverty and exclusion, housing, AIDS, ecology and Third World debt—and with the Jesuit Refugee Service helping refugees and forcibly displaced people.

Just as the students need the poor in order to learn, so the professors need partnerships with the social apostolate in order to research and teach and form. Such partnerships do not turn Jesuit universities into branch plants of social ministries or agencies of social change, as certain rhetoric of the past may have led some to fear, but are a verifiable pledge of the faculty’s option and really help, as the colloquial expression goes, “to keep your feet to the fire!”

If the professors choose viewpoints incompatible with the justice of the Gospel and consider researching, teaching, and learning to be separable from moral responsibility for their social repercussions, they are sending a message to their students. They are telling them that they can pursue their careers and self-interest without reference to anyone “other” than themselves.

By contrast, when faculty do take up interdisciplinary dialogue and socially engaged research in partnership with social ministries, they are exemplifying and modeling knowledge which is service, and the students learn by imitating them as “masters of life and of moral commitment,”28 as the Holy Father said.

C. Our way of proceeding

If the measure of our universities is who the students become, and if the faculty are the heart of it all, then what is there left to say? It is perhaps the third topic, the character of our universities—how they proceed internally and how they impact on society—which is the most difficult.

We have already dwelt on the importance of formation and learning, of research and teaching. The social action that the students undertake, and the socially relevant work that the professors do, are vitally important and necessary, but these do not add up to the full character of a Jesuit university; they neither exhaust its faith-justice commitment nor really fulfill its responsibilities to society.

What, then, constitutes this ideal character? And what contributes to the public’s perception of it? In the case of a Jesuit university, this character must surely be the mission, which is defined by GC 32 and reaffirmed by GC 34: the diakonia fidei and the promotion of justice, as the characteristic Jesuit university way of proceeding and of serving socially.

In the words of GC 34, a Jesuit university must be faithful to both the noun “university” and to the adjective “Jesuit.” To be a university requires dedication “to research, teaching and the various forms of service that correspond to its cultural mission.” To be Jesuit “requires that the university act in harmony with the demands of the service of faith and promotion of justice found in Decree 4 of GC 32.”29

The first way, historically, that our universities began living out their faith-justice commitment was through their admissions policies, affirmative action for minorities, and scholarships for disadvantaged students;30 and these continue to be effective means. An even more telling expression of the Jesuit university’s nature is found in policies concerning hiring and tenure. As a university it is necessary to respect the established academic, professional, and labor norms, but as Jesuit it is essential to go beyond them and find ways of attracting, hiring, and promoting those who actively share the mission.

I believe that we have made considerable and laudable Jesuit efforts to go deeper and further: we have brought our Ignatian spirituality, our reflective capacities, some of our international resources, to bear. Good results are evident, for example, in the Decree “Jesuits and University Life” of the last General Congregation and in this very Conference on “Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education”; and good results are hoped for from the Higher Education Committee working on Jesuit criteria.

Paraphrasing Ignacio Ellacuría, it is the nature of every university to be a social force, and it is the calling of a Jesuit university to take conscious responsibility for being such a force for faith and justice. Every Jesuit academy of higher learning is called to live in a social reality (as we saw in the “composition” of our time and place) and to live for that social reality, to shed university intelligence upon it and to use university influence to transform it.31 Thus Jesuit universities have stronger and different reasons than many other academic and research institutions, for addressing the actual world as it unjustly exists and for helping to reshape it in the light of the Gospel.

 IV. In conclusion, an agenda

The 25th anniversary of GC 32 is a motive for great thanksgiving.

We give thanks for our Jesuit university awareness of the world in its entirety and in its ultimate depth, created yet abused, sinful yet redeemed, and we take up our Jesuit university responsibility for human society that is so scandalously unjust, so complex to understand, and so hard to change. With the help of others and especially the poor, we want to play our role as students, as teachers and researchers, and as Jesuit university in society. As Jesuit higher education, we embrace new ways of learning and being formed in the pursuit of adult solidarity; new methods of researching and teaching in an academic community of dialogue; and a new university way of practicing faith-justice in society.

As Jesuit higher education, we embrace new ways of learning and being formed in the pursuit of adult solidarity; new methods of researching and teaching in an academic community of dialogue; and a new university way of practicing faith-justice in society.

As we assume our Jesuit university characteristics in the new century, we do so with seriousness and hope. For this very mission has produced martyrs who prove that “an institution of higher learning and research can become an instrument of justice in the name of the Gospel.”32 But implementing Decree 4 is not something a Jesuit university accomplishes once and for all. It is rather an ideal to keep taking up and working at, a cluster of characteristics to keep exploring and implementing, a conversion to keep praying for.

In Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II charges Catholic universities with a challenging agenda for teaching, research, and service: “The dignity of human life, the promotion of justice for all, the quality of personal and family life, the protection of nature, the search for peace and political stability, a more just sharing in the world’s resources, and a new economic and political order that will better serve the human community at a national and international level.”33 These are both high ideals and concrete tasks. I encourage our Jesuit colleges and universities to take them up with critical understanding and deep conviction, with buoyant faith and much hope in the early years of the new century.

The beautiful words of GC 32 show us a long path to follow: “The way to faith and the way to justice are inseparable ways. It is up this undivided road, this steep road, that the pilgrim Church”—the Society of Jesus, the Jesuit College and University—“must travel and toil. Faith and justice are undivided in the Gospel which teaches that ‘faith makes its power felt through love.’34 They cannot therefore be divided in our purpose, our action, our life.”35   For the greater glory of God.

Thank you very much.


1 G.C. 32, D.4, n.47.

2 GC32, D.2, n.9.

3 See GC 32, D.2, n.9 and D.4, n.76.

4 1971 Synod of Bishops, “Justice in the World.”

5 Pedro Arrupe, S.J., “On the Social Apostolate in Latin America,” December 1966 (AR XIV, 791).

6 Ibid.

7 Cf. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., “On the Social Apostolate,” January 2000, n.3.

8 “Since evangelisation is proclamation of that faith which is made operative in love of others (see Galatians 5:6; Ephesians 4:15), the promotion of justice is indispensable to it,” (GC32, D.4, n.28).

9 Cf. GC 34, D.26, n.5.

10 For example, GC32, D.11, n.13.

11 GC 34, D. 26, n.8.

12 GC 33, D.1, n.32.

13 1971 Synod of Bishops, “Justice in the World.”

14 Pedro Arrupe, Rooted and Grounded in Love, 67 (AR XVIII, 500).

15 GC33, D.1, n.33.

16 GC34, D.3, n.2.

17 Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Address to the European Jesuit Alumni Congress, Valencia, August 1973, in Hombres para los demás, Barcelona: Diafora, 1983, p. 159.

18 Cf. The Characteristics of Jesuit Education, Washington, D.C.: Jesuit Secondary Education Association, 1987.

19 Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J., “The Task of a Christian University,” Convocation address at the University of Santa Clara, June 12, 1982; “Una universidad para el pueblo,” Diakonía 6:23 (1982), 41-57.

20 See “Contemplation on the Incarnation,” Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, nos. 101-109.

21 GC32, D.4, nn.27, 20

22 United Nations Development Program, Human Development Report, 1990-present (annual).

23 In February 2000, the Jesuit Conference established a five-man Committee on Higher Education to prepare recommendations regarding 1) sponsorship by the Society of U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities; 2) assignment of personnel to these institutions; 3) selection of Presidents (particularly non-Jesuit Presidents) for these institutions.

24 John Paul II, Address to Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, May 5, 2000, n.9.

25 Ibid. n.7.17

26 Cf. GC34, D.17, n.6.

27 John Paul II, op.cit., n.5.

28 John Paul II, Address to the Faculty of Medicine, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, June 26, 1984.

29 GC34, D.17, nn.6,7.

30 “For the poor [the universities] serve as major channels for social advancement” (GC34, D.17, n.2).

31 Ellacuría, op.cit.

32 Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Address to the Congregation of Provincials (20/09/90), AR 20 (1990), p. 452.

33 John Paul II, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, August 1990, n. 32.

34 Galatians 5:6.

35 GC32, D.2, n.8.


Klovenbach, Rev. Peter-Hans, S.J. “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education.” The Santa Clara Lecture. Santa Clara: Santa Clara University, 6 Oct. 2000.