Address of Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Superior General of the Society of Jesus To the International Meeting of Jesuit Higher Education Rome (Monte Cucco), May 27, 2001


1. It gives me great pleasure to greet all of you, Jesuits, lay men and women, responsible for higher education for the Society throughout the world, and to welcome you to Rome. I thank you for finding time, amid all your activities and responsibilities, to come to this meeting. I very much appreciate your commitment and devotion to the service of the mission of the Society in the field of education in your various countries.

2. The last time I addressed an assembly such as this was in Frascati in 1985. In barely sixteen years, events have occurred which have changed the world. To respond to the challenges of the new times, the universities of the Society have undertaken during this period a profound reflection and have taken action. At this meeting, the body and the head of the Society have a wonderful opportunity for contact, in order to discern the signs of the times and try to discover together what it is that the Lord wants of us.

3. I would like in this address to comment upon the topics you have chosen for this Conference, from the perspective of the founding charism of Ignatius of Loyola, and contribute some elements which may help in the process of your reflection. I realize that you represent very diverse institutions. Thus, when I refer without distinction to the universities or to higher education, in your reflections and discussions you will have to make the necessary adjustments to your particular situation.


The Society’s option for education

4. The ties that unite the Society of Jesus with the university world date from the time when Ignatius and the first companions met at the University of Paris. This was where Ignatius recruited his first followers, for the most part lay students. Nevertheless, at first Jesuits did not consider the university as a special instrument of the apostolate. The active involvement of the Society with education, in particular with higher education and the education of externs, came later, but still within the lifetime of Ignatius.

5. We need to go back to the founding charism of Ignatius to understand fully the evolution of the Society’s involvement in education, and to recover the meaning of Jesuit education today. We would look in vain, however, for this charism in the person of Ignatius himself. His education takes place outside the university. He is a gentleman of the sword, not of the pen. After the military defeat at Pamplona, the Lord enters into his life of sickness as a school teacher treats a child –as St. Ignatius would say much later–, that is to say, teaching him.[i] After this mystical experience, there follow three years of human counter-culture, leading to a new defeat: his apostolic plan to follow the steps of Jesus in Palestine fell through, even though he was convinced that the Lord wanted him in the Holy Land. Not knowing what to do, he lets himself be guided in Barcelona by his inclination to “study for some time.”[ii] Prayerfully considering options, he acts “according to the greater motion arising from reason, and not according to some motion arising from sensitive human nature.”[iii] He starts to frequent universities –Alcalá, Salamanca, and Paris– in order to obtain a university diploma, also to protect himself from the Inquisition, suspicious of charismatic movements without proper credentials.

6. The Society was born in a university environment, but not for the purpose of founding universities and colleges. The Constitutions of 1541 would still impose a prohibition: “no studies or lectures in the Society.”[iv] Initially the Society was content to take advantage passively of existing university structures, such as in Coimbra and in Padua, in Louvain and in Cologne, for the formation and education of the Jesuits. But by 1548, eight years before the death of Ignatius, the involvement in the educational apostolate moved from being passive to being active, even ultra-active. At the rate sometimes of four or five new colleges per year, often without the necessary academic, professional and financial preparation, the Society founded educational institutions both for the formation of Jesuit students, and, significantly, for the education of “externs.”

7. The “priests of Christ who have chosen to be poor,” as the first companions were recognized,[v] had opted for a “learned” ministry. The reason why the Society had embraced colleges and universities was to “provide for the edifice of learning, and of skill in employing it so as to help make God our Creator and Lord better known and served.”[vi] Ignatius realized the formidable apostolic potential to be found in education, and did not hesitate to give it pride of place above the other “usual ministries.” The Society of the last years of Ignatius underwent a new radical change. At the death of Ignatius, the “colleges” of the Society exceeded 30 in number, while the professed houses, conceived as the classic residence of the itinerant Society, were no more than two. Clearly, the Society had taken “another path.”[vii]

8. Changing course so many times in a few years, had it not disfigured the initial image of a Society pilgrim and poor? Once again, it is essential to recall the founding charism. If Ignatius introduced the new ministry of teaching into his apostolic plan, he was “moved by the desire of serving” his Divine Majesty,[viii] as a new “offering of greater worth and moment.”[ix] The involvement of the Society with what we today call the “intellectual apostolate” was a consequence of the MAGIS, the result of the search for a greater apostolic service through an insertion into the world of culture.

9. The option for a learned ministry and the involvement in the field of education had, in fact, changed the face of the early Society. Poverty, the gratuity of ministries, apostolic mobility, the assignment of personnel, the governance of the Society itself, all this was affected by the entry of the Society into education, and by the entry of education into the Society. For some, the Society had gotten itself into a minefield. The Rector of the German College in Rome from 1564 until 1569, Gioseffo Cortesono, wrote bluntly: “The Society of Jesus is being ruined by taking on so many schools.”[x] But the “greater glory and service of God our Lord and the universal good, which is the only end sought in this matter,”[xi] was the reason for the Society’s initial involvement and for its persistence in the field of education. For the Society there is no such thing as an either-or approach between God or the world, however dangerous the latter may look. The meeting with God always takes place in the world, so that the world may come to be fully in God.[xii]

The objectives of higher education

10. If we now ask ourselves why the Society entered into higher education, we cannot find the answer in Ignatius himself but in his mission, that is his eagerness to be available apostolically to assume any ministry whatever that the mission requires. We have to wait until late in the 16th century when the Spanish Jesuit Diego Ledesma was finally able, after long inquiry, to list four reasons for promoting the Jesuit involvement in higher education.[xiii] It is quite astonishing to read in many mission statements or charters of Jesuit universities today –400 years after Ledesma– these same characteristics updated according to the needs and feelings of our times, translated into modern language. Let us look at Ledesma’s reasons and compare them with the statement of a college in the United States, published in November 1998.

11. The first motivation given by Ledesma is “to give students advantages for practical living”. Four centuries later it is expressed this way: “Jesuit education is eminently practical, focused on providing students with the knowledge and skills to excel in whatever field they choose.” That demands academic excellence. The second reason Ledesma proposes is “to contribute to the right government of public affairs.” This short sentence becomes in 1998: “Jesuit education is not merely practical, but concerns itself also with questions of values, with educating men and women to be good citizens and good leaders, concerned with the common good, and able to use their education for the service of faith and promotion of justice.”

12. Ledesma formulates with baroque words a third dimension of Jesuit higher education: “to give ornament, splendor and perfection to the rational nature of humanity.” More sober but to the point is the U.S.A. college: ‘The Jesuit education celebrates the full range of human intellectual power and achievement, confidently affirming reason, not as antithetical to faith, but as its necessary complement.” Finally Ledesma’s God-centered view of higher education: “to be a bulwark of religion, and to guide man most surely and easily to the achievement of his last end.” In more inclusive language, and in a broader dialogue approach, our modern charter states: ‘The Jesuit education places all that it does firmly within a Christian understanding of the human person as a creature of God whose ultimate destiny is beyond the human.”

13. Ignatius and the first Jesuits saw in letters and science a way to serve souls. Within the modern mentality, in which science and faith seem to run on parallel tracks, this approach may seem to many today as a threat to the essence of a university and to the methodology proper to academic research. Far be it for us to try to convert the university into a mere instrument for evangelization, or worse still, for proselytizing. The university has its own purposes that cannot be subordinated to other objectives. It is essential to respect institutional autonomy, academic freedom, and to safeguard personal and community rights within the requirements of truth and the common good.[xiv] Still, a Jesuit university pursues other objectives beyond the obvious objectives of that institution. In a Catholic university, or one of Christian inspiration, under the responsibility of the Society of Jesus, there does not exist –nor can there exist– incompatibility between the goals proper to the university, and the Christian and Ignatian inspiration that should characterize any apostolic institution of the Society. To believe the contrary, or to act in practice as if it were necessary to choose between being a university or being of the Society, would be to fall into a regrettable reductionism.

14. More now than ever, the Christian identity of our universities and the public witnessing to that identity are crucial issues because of increased secularization and dechristianization in some areas and the total marginalization of Christianity in other regions. I could say that never as in these last years have the universities of the Society shown such concern about deepening and manifesting their Catholic, Christian, Jesuit, or Ignatian identity, as the case may be. According to the specific cultural and eclesial context, this concern has been experienced in some places without special difficulty, while in others there have been tensions and misunderstandings. With “creative fidelity” to the charism of Ignatius and to the mission of the Society, I am sure that Jesuit higher education will know how to find ways to overcome the tensions and continue to “distinguish itself” in its service to the Church and to the world.

15. We would fall into a historical anachronism if we understood today “study” and the “help of souls” literally as Ignatius and the first companions understood them. Nevertheless, in continuity with the Ignatian charism, we must ask ourselves how we can make present this reality today and maintain the balance between the academic dimension and the apostolic dimension in Jesuit higher education. In a modern transposition of the problematic of times past, today we ask ourselves how we can respect the noun “university” and the adjective “Catholic,” “Christian” or “Ignatian” of our institutions; how to recognize the autonomy of earthly realities and, at the same time, the referral of all things to the Creator; how to reconcile the “service of faith” with the “promotion of justice;” how to fly in the search for truth with the two wings of faith and reason.

The involvement of the Society with intellectual work

16. Let us highlight now some specific aspects of the Ignatian understanding of higher learning. Ignatius very quickly saw the need for learning and teaching. Progressively the Jesuits felt called to learned ministry with the creative tension of a total reliance on divine grace and of the use of all human means, science and art, research and intellectual life.

17. With its lights and its shadows, the history of the Society has a long trajectory in the intellectual field, through teaching and research. This tradition would appear, according to some, to be on the wane. Several of the preparatory documents for this Conference call for the taking of a more determined position and the adoption of a clear policy on the part of the Society with respect to the intellectual apostolate. The 34th General Congregation proved to be elusive and deceptive for many, who think that intellectual apostolate was brushed aside and that the General Congregation limited itself to generalities regarding the “intellectual dimension of Jesuit ministries.”[xv]

18. It will not be documents that will invigorate intellectual work. Nevertheless, it will not be out of place to recall that already the 31st General Congregation (1965) emphasized the importance of this apostolate, insisted upon the need to prepare competent personnel and asked that facilities be given to those who work in institutions of the Society, or in other universities and scientific institutions not attached to the Society.[xvi]

19. The 32nd General Congregation (1975), which seems to some to have signified a questioning of the university apostolate for the sake of social activism, in reality insisted on scientific rigor in social research, and upon the need to dedicate oneself to the hard and in-depth study required to understand contemporary problems.[xvii] The 33rd General Congregation once again stressed the importance of the social apostolate and of research, recommending a closer link between the intellectual, pastoral and social fields.[xviii] The tension and uneasiness lasted for several years, aggravated by a disaffection of the young with respect to education. This situation, in general, appears to have now reversed itself, although the decline in the recruitment of Jesuits and the rising age of the Jesuits in some countries present a serious problem for the foreseeable future.

20. After my address at the University of Santa Clara last October, I hope it has become clear that it is not legitimate to make an incomplete, slanted and unbalanced reading of the Decree on faith and justice. The theme should be part of a comprehensive vision of the mission of the Society, such as the 34th General Congregation proposes in its Decrees on the mission.[xix] The unique character of a university of the Society is given by the mission: “the diakonia fidei and the promotion of justice, as the characteristic Jesuit university way of proceeding and of servicing socially.”[xx]

21. Periodically, in the history of the Society, there have been phases of increased intellectualism or of strident anti-intellectualism, which keep springing up in our times as well. Perhaps in our days, the temptation to short-term efficiency and the search for rapid results are threatening more than in other times the commitment of the Society to a deep intellectual effort.

22. The quality of the apostolic service, which the Society renders, will depend in large measure on its academic rigor and the level of its intellectual research. Not all Jesuits are called to work in the intellectual apostolate, but each one is called to competent and serious work in whatever field he is involved, including the pastoral and social areas. The availability to render this type of service is becoming a criterion of a vocation to the Society.[xxi] The work of a Jesuit scholar, often hard and solitary, is already a form of apostolate for Ignatius.[xxii] Plainly speaking, a vigorous spiritual and intellectual formation is necessary for our young people, as is necessary the on-going formation for every Jesuit.[xxiii]

23. The Society, then, still considers the intellectual apostolate along the lines of its mission to be of the highest importance. In a world at once globalized and diversified, one cannot expect the Society to give universal norms valid for all contexts. The fundamental criterion will always be the greater divine service and the good of souls, and the wise Ignatian principle of “adapting to places, times and persons.”[xxiv] It will be up to each Province or Region to discern what their involvement with the intellectual apostolate should be, and the means to put it seriously into practice.


Academia and society

24. Earlier when we referred to the four reasons why the Society actively took up university education, we listed the link between academic life and human society. It is already a cliché to repeat that the university is not an ivory tower, and that it does not exist for itself but for society. Other than theory, the profound meaning of this affirmation was given by the witness of Ignacio Ellacuría and his companions, assassinated in the UCA of El Salvador, who demonstrated with their lives the seriousness of their commitment and that of their university to society. Few other events have had such an impact and led to so much reflection in our universities these past years.

25. I do not think that any of our universities today runs the risk of academic isolation in a tower. The danger could be considering that what happens in a distant university of a small country is felt to be detached from one’s own reality. It is true that the surrounding reality varies from one country to another and from one continent to another. Nevertheless, whatever may be the context, the university should see itself as challenged by society, and the university should challenge society. Within an unequal interaction of mutual influences, the local and global context influences the university, and the university is called to influence society, locally and globally.

26. Pure science and research still maintain their purpose, although apparently they are no longer always linked to the practical sphere. According to John Henry Newman –perhaps more often quoted than read, now 200 years since his birth–, “knowledge is capable of being its own end, […] an end sufficient to rest in and to pursue for its own sake, surely.”[xxv] This was not exactly Ignatius’ way of thinking. While Cardinal Newman defended knowledge for its own sake, Ignatius stressed the education of future “doctores” as the practical end of a Jesuit university. Because if higher education as both means and medium has intrinsic value, it must still always ask itself: “For whom? For what?”[xxvi] The answer to these questions will always be related to the common good and the progress of human society.

27. Let us not delude ourselves: knowledge is not neutral, because it always implies values and a specific conception of the human person. Teaching and research cannot turn their backs on the surrounding society. It was in and through the colleges that the early Society interacted with culture. The university remains the place where fundamental questions that touch the person and community can be aired, in the areas of economics, politics, culture, science, theology, the search for meaning. The university should be a bearer of human and ethical values; it should be the critical conscience of the society; it should illuminate with its reflection those who are addressing the problematic of the modern or postmodern society; it should be the crucible where the diverse tendencies in human thought are debated and solutions proposed.

University and globalization

28. We have to keep in mind that Ignatius inaugurated the commitment to higher learning because the good that could be accomplished was more “universal.” To come back for a moment to Cardinal Newman: for him the university comprises the universality of knowledge; for Ignatius a university accomplishes the function of education and scholarly investigation more universally. The originality of the Society of Jesus in creating its own universities in the 16th century was that of proposing a new model of higher education, in response to the needs of the new culture and the new society that was being born. The Jesuit universities sprung up as a critique of the model of the university closed in upon itself, the heirs of the “cathedral schools,” incapable of finding answers to the new times. Although at first with reticence, the Jesuits made a clear option for Christian humanism, and by means of education contributed to the shaping of the new society.

29. Likewise Jesuit higher education is called upon in our day to give creative responses to the changing times. Ignatius would be fascinated by the phenomenon of globalization, with its incredible opportunities and threats, and would not run from the challenges that it involves. To the universities corresponds an indispensable role in the critical analysis of globalization, with its positive and negative connotations, to orient the thought and the action of society. In Ignatian language, it is a matter of an authentic process of discernment, in order to discover what is coming from the good spirit and what is coming from the bad.

30. We will discover at a glance that making the market and the economic interest the only driving force in society cannot come from God. The frightful results of economic globalization that have been introduced, against all ethics, are obvious: dehumanization, individualism, lack of solidarity, social fragmentation, a widening of the already existing gap between rich and poor, exclusion, lack of respect for human rights, economic and cultural neo-colonialism, exploitation, deterioration of the environment, violence, frustration. Not to speak of the “perverse connection” with the globalization of crime: traffic in human beings and arms, drugs, exploitation of women and sex, child labor, manipulation of the media, mafia of all types, terrorism, war, and the debasement of the value of human life. How can we not in this moment think of Africa, the paradigm for all the negative faces that the globalization of the market can offer?

31. The university as a university has its word to say on these topics, which touch on fundamental aspects of the person and society. I know of the efforts that our universities are making, depending on their contexts, to address questions such as ethnic minorities, cultural pluralism, diversity, interreligious dialogue, migrants, refugees, injustice, poverty, exclusion, unemployment, the crisis of democracy. It is not enough to denounce: it is necessary to also pronounce and propose. Committing oneself in this field, is one consequence of the service that the university should render to society. And for Jesuit universities, it is also a consequence of the vision of Ignatius in the contemplation of the Kingdom, and of the mission of the Society to strive for the service of faith and the promotion of justice.

32. Although closely tied to economic processes, it must be recognized that globalization also includes other dimensions which offer unique possibilities for the construction of a world more fraternal and solidary. Never before have there been so many opportunities for communication, for integration, for interdependence and unity of the human race. The growing awareness of the dimensions of globalization, the tension between the global and the local, the emergency of civil society, the forces of resistance from different sides which have entered the scene –such as the “Seattle people”– constitute opportunities and threats which the university cannot overlook.

33. The universities have the duty to orient, to stand at the convergence between the diverse currents, to bring to bear their thought to the deep study and the search for solutions to burning issues. In the words of John Paul II, it is necessary to contribute to the “globalization of solidarity.”[xxvii] The “complete person,” the ideal of Jesuit education for more than four centuries, will, in the future, be a competent, conscious person, capable of compassion and “well educated in solidarity.” [xxviii]

34. Ignatius’ vision of the world was clearly global. Although he wanted Jesuits to adapt to the place where they were working and learning the local language and culture –“inculturation” we would say today–, he wanted them to be available to “travel through the world and live in any part of it,”[xxix] always open to the MAGIS. This is the way he experienced the tension between the local and the global, that is, thinking on a global level, but acting on the local.

Academia and the market

35. One last word on the university and the market economy. Whether we like it or not, the academy cannot evade from the forces of the market. The financial limitations faced by universities not subsidized with public funds force them to depend ever more on the financial support of their students, and to make recourse to various systems for raising funds to secure the necessary resources to operate. Ignatius knew this, concerned as he was with foundations, and always so grateful to the founders, such that in 1551 he would open the doors of the Roman College with the title of “gratis.” In spite of efforts to create funds that would permit the granting of scholarships to those who needed them, the danger of elitism is real.

36. It may happen that a university has to redesign its degree programs and offer courses according to the demands of the market, and thereby yield to the pressures of its clients in an ever-competitive environment. Let us not deceive ourselves: how many of our students come to our universities simply in search of the excellence we offer, and the preparation that permits them to obtain a good position and earn more money. Some can spend years in our institutions of higher education, without ever taking notice that this is a Catholic institution directed by the Society of Jesus.

37. The growing costs of education and the trend to privatization imply a progressive dependence on financial subsidies, which can turn into a veritable social mortgage. It may happen that not all the sponsors or trustees are always disinterested, nor identify with the mission statements and the orientation of the university. The autonomy itself of the university and the freedom of research and instruction are at stake. The institution may end up moderating the tone of its voice, or refrain from speaking about certain issues. There are faculties which are “for sale” and others that “are not for sale,” according to economic swings, or the interests of industry, commerce, and tourism; there are profitable professions and non-profitable ones; there is money for some schools, faculties, laboratories, research, topics, while there is none for others. The quality of the teachers who can be hired, and their stay in the institution are conditional in large part on economic factors and by what similar institutions may offer.

38. The challenge could not be greater. It is necessary at all costs to not lose sight of the raison d’être of the university, as a center of integration of knowledge which proposes the search, not for the “narrow truth,” but for the “whole truth” of which Newman spoke,[xxx] with an “accurate vision and comprehension of all things.”[xxxi] It is necessary to discern and to make a choice for the kind of greater service, which we intend to give to Church and society through our universities. More than knowledge and science, it is wisdom, which our academies should offer. “For what fills and satisfies the soul consists, not in knowing much, but in our understanding the realities profoundly and in savoring them interiorly.”[xxxii] The Ignatian seal is what can and should make the difference.


A change of accent

39. The few references in the Constitutions to the participation of lay people in the educational process are not very heartening for a modern reader. The only role especially conferred upon lay people is no more than the corrector, that is to say, the person who should “keep in fear and should punish” those who have deserved correction. Ignatius and the Jesuits were scrupulous about applying physical punishment on the students with their own hands, according to the usage of the time. The ingenious solution was to give those who were guilty to the secular arm, engaging a lay person to give the culprit a proper thrashing. One can suppose there was “much to be done,” because such a person was to “receive a good salary.”[xxxiii] Times have changed, and today the Society depends upon lay men and women for more noble tasks.

40. We should recognize that, in fact, it has been the decrease in the number of Jesuits, which has made us to turn our eyes to lay people and to develop a theological reflection and practice of Jesuit-lay collaboration. The figures are eloquent: it is estimated that the proportion for education at large in the Society is 95% lay and 5% Jesuits. For simple realism and by the Ignatian principle of accommodation to persons and times, the Society considers today the “partnership with others” to be one of the characteristics of our way of proceeding.[xxxiv]

41. The change of accent came a mere six years ago, with the two Decrees of the General Congregation on “Cooperation with the Laity in Mission” and on “Jesuits and the Situation of Women in Church and Civil Society.”[xxxv] Both documents were considered at the time of their appearance to be innovative, although sometimes our practice does not always respond everywhere to the ideal we have set.

The practice of collaboration

42. On the part of the Jesuits, at times a certain hesitation and doubt is detected as far as collaboration with lay people is concerned, when it is not rejected outright. On the part of lay people, the desire for more information and formation. It pleases me to know of the efforts that Jesuit higher education has made to explore this new ground. In the last few years there has been undeniable progress, but in the venture that Jesuits and lay people have jointly undertaken there still remains much road to cover. This meeting is a good opportunity to share the best practices as well as deficiencies, and push forward together.

43. I will not repeat what is already in the official documents and what you yourselves have prepared in your regional reports. I would like only to highlight some aspects, which I consider to be greater challenges for our higher education. Whether we like it or not, the identity of Jesuit higher education is at stake for the short term, especially in the West and in the industrialized countries. The problem of the “next generation” is not an imaginary one. At the pace that the physical presence of the Jesuits is disappearing, the ethos of the institution, its Ignatian, Catholic, Christian culture, may also disappear, if no attention is paid to the preparation of the generation that is to take over. This responsibility falls above all on Jesuits themselves. Preparation in the vision and the shared mission between Jesuits and collaborators is a priority of the first order in our higher education. (I am aware of the negative connotations that the word “mission” can have in some countries. In that case, you will have to make the necessary adaptations.)

44. There exist various levels of collaboration, according to the vocation and level of commitment of each person –human, professional, Christian. Not all collaboration with the laity is in keeping with the mission. We have the right to assume that the Jesuits identify with their mission, but we cannot assume that all the lay people identify themselves with the specific mission of the Jesuits. Lay people are not called to be mini-Jesuits, but rather to live their own lay vocation. Respecting the way in which the Lord leads each person is fundamental to Ignatian spirituality. This having been said, a collaborator of an institution of higher education in the Society should identify in some manner with the institutional mission.

45. On the other hand, it would be odious to catalogue and discriminate among personnel according to their supposed level of commitment with the mission. In the mission of the Society, as in the house of the Lord, there are many mansions. For Ignatius, there is no worse error in spiritual life than trying to lead all by the same road. The mission of a Jesuit institution of higher education –as with the faith– is not imposed, rather it is proposed. In an “interface” of mutual respect and sincerity, collaborators are invited to share this mission and make it their own, to different degrees.

46. The level of partnership in mission and identity will depend upon the dynamics of the institution and the options that each person takes. There are minimum limits of commitment that, for reasons of honesty and coherence, should be respected. The only limit on the top is imposed by the capacity for response of a human being to the call of God. We are touching upon the Ignatian “MAGIS,” the “ALL” –another Ignatian which embraces the totality of the human person: “Loving and serving in all things.” I would like to emphasize only some concrete practices, which without a doubt are helping to share the mission and deepen the identity:

47. a) The courses for orientation or induction for new professors and board members, to share the ethos of our education. It may happen that not all the lay persons will choose to commit themselves wholeheartedly to the Jesuit mission of the work. But the Society expects of all, including people of others faiths, that they recognize and accept the values contained in the Ignatian spirituality and apostolic mission that animate the word.[xxxvi]

48. b) The programs of on-going formation, as much for lay people as for Jesuits. The goal is to form an apostolic team of Jesuits and colleagues for the purpose of realizing the Jesuit identity and mission of the work.[xxxvii] This would be the way to create the “critical mass” –as is said now– indispensable to insure the identity of the institution.

49. c) The priority given to the identity and the mission in the hiring of personnel. “Hiring for mission” is a delicate point, and can result in a veiled form of apartheid. A university cannot discriminate in its personnel, but –if it is still possible– one does have the right to choose men and women capable of sharing its identity. Other non-confessional corporations know how to do this very well for their own aims.

50. d) The offering of the Spiritual Exercises to our personnel, in their various modalities, particularly through the practice of the Exercises in daily life.

51. e) Finally, the decisive role corresponding to the Jesuits. Even while responsibilities are shared more and more, or are transferred to non-Jesuit collaborators, the Jesuits, both as a community and as individuals, should see ways of still being present, now no longer exercising power but still exercising influence in the institution.

The topic of Jesuit-lay collaboration is far from being exhausted.


52. By definition, universality and the possibility of exchanges at all levels belong to the very nature of the university. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that universities, including those of the Society, are extremely jealous of their autonomy and independence, and more easily lend themselves to scientific exchange than to concrete forms of joint cooperation among equals. This being said, the need for coordination, often more than the concern for the universal, has brought Jesuit higher education to come together in various ways, as is demonstrated by the regional associations represented here. I am pleased to know that Europe, the only region which up until now has not had an instance of common coordination, is also planning to form an association, which will include the Near East and Africa. These associations are limited by general rule to lending services to their members and have no more attributions than those, which their members have conferred. But they are absolutely indispensable if we hope to see the Society act as a body.

53. There are several other groups and platforms for scientific encounters for those working in Jesuit higher education, by disciplines, specialties, or interests: theology, philosophy, spirituality, social sciences, positive sciences, communication, research centers, journals, and surely many others. All of these accomplish their role in the universal apostolic service of the Society. By its universal vocation, and even more in times of globalization, the Society encourages the creation of these national and international networks. This is the way in which Jesuit higher education can face common global problems, by means of mutual assistance, information, planning and shared evaluation, or the putting into action of projects which are beyond the capacity of each individual institution. Obviously, the institutions of higher education participate in many networks other than Jesuit. But this does not substitute for the coordination and cooperation of Jesuit institutions among themselves.

54. Successful experiences of international cooperation are now underway within the Society which can serve as an inspiration. Permit me to mention the MBA Program in Beijing, under the responsibility of the AJCU, and the consortium effort in The Beijing Center for Language and Culture; the collaboration of various universities of the AJCU-EAO in the training of professors in Cambodia, and in the reconstruction of the University of East Timor; the coordination between AJCU and AUSJAL and the exchanges of universities of Latin America with universities in Spain and in the United States; the programs of distance education, with their enormous possibilities of mutual exchange.

55. Although each university has a particular responsibility in a concrete and limited place in the vineyard of the Lord, the Ignatian MAGIS and the “more universal” impel us not to enclose ourselves in this particularity but to open out to a greater service in the Lord’s vineyard.

56. As we consider more deeply the international dimension of the Society, it becomes clearer how much more we can accomplish by cooperation, not competition, as we venture abroad. This is especially true in developing countries. I am thinking of consortium efforts, which can reach out eventually to Vietnam, Laos, East Timor, Cambodia, as well as to Africa and developing countries around the world. I think also of the examples of fraternal collaboration and concrete gestures of solidarity, which can arise in a meeting such as this, between Jesuits and lay people from different continents. The important thing is to cooperate together for the sake of our brothers and sisters around the world as we seek to put a human face on the process of globalization.


57. In 1551, the Roman College opened its doors, an emblematic figure of what would become the Society’s venture in the university field. Four and a half centuries later, the Society remains intensely dedicated to the work of higher education, with numberless universities and other institutions throughout the world. The times in which we happen to live are radically different from those lived by Ignatius of Loyola. But the “help of souls,” the “greater glory of God and the universal good” remain the fundamental motivation for the Society’s commitment to education. The “for whom” and the “for what” of our universities, the profound importance of the work that Jesuits and lay people accomplish in them, and the reason for the presence of all of you here, are anchored in this vision of Ignatius.

58. May the creative fidelity to the founding charism of Ignatius of Loyola inspire all of you to make real in your institutions the greater divine service and the help of men and women of our age.

[i] Autobio. 27.

[ii] Autobio. 50.

[iii] Sp.Ex. 182.

[iv] MI Const. I, 47.

[v] Cf. The Bull of Approbation, 1540.

[vi] Const.[307].

[vii] Const.[308].

[viii] Const.[540].

[ix] Sp.Ex. 97.

[x] M Paed. II, 870. Cf. John W. O’Malley, The First Jesuits, Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge Mass, 1993, p. 227.

[xi] Const.[508].

[xii] GC34, D.4, n.7.

[xiii] M Paed. II, 528-529.

[xiv] John Paul II, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Rome,1990, n.12.

[xv] GC34, D.16

[xvi] GC31, D.29.

[xvii] GC32, D.4, nn.35,44.

[xviii] GC33, D.1, n.44.

[xix] GC34, DD.3,4,5.

[xx] Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in Higher Education of the Society of Jesus in the United States, Santa Clara, 6 October 2000.

[xxi] Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Address to the Congregation of Procurators 3 September 1987, AR XX, 1987, pp.1076-1077.

[xxii] Const.[361].

[xxiii] GC34, D.16, n.3.

[xxiv] Const.[455].

[xxv] John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University, Discourse V, 2.

[xxvi] GC34, D.17, n.6.

[xxvii]John Paul II, Address to the Secretary General and the Administrative Committee on Coordination of the United Nations, April 7, 2000.

[xxviii] Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in University Education of the Society of Jesus in the United States, Santa Clara, 6 October 2000.

[xxix] Const.[304].

[xxx] John Henry Newman, Op.cit., Discourse IV, 12.

[xxxi] John Henry Newman, Op.cit., Discourse VI, 6.

[xxxii] Sp.Ex. 2.

[xxxiii] Const.[397,488,500], as well as other similar quotations in the Ratio Studiorum.

[xxxiv] GC34, D.26, n.15.

[xxxv] GC34, DD.13 & 14.

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