Fr. Robert Araujo, S.J., on Catholic Identity and Jesuit Universities

Fr. Robert John Araujo, S.J.

Over at Mirror of Justice, Fr. Robert John Araujo, S.J., responds to a recent The Atlantic article concerning Catholic identity and Jesuit universities.

Fr. Araujo's reflection is based on his extensive teaching career in Jesuit higher education (he notes he has lectured or taught at half of the Jesuit universities that sponsor law schools), and his words speak to those involved in Jesuit education at every level. His concluding paragraphs convey some of his central claims:

Truth in advertising is vital to the authenticity of the claim that a school is Jesuit. If I may borrow from the Formula of the Institute, whosoever desires to serve as a Jesuit institution should keep what follows in mind: that the Jesuit order was founded for this purpose, which is “to strive especially for the defense and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine.” I fear that in today’s climate many students, faculty, and administrators who believe they are a part of Jesuit education would find it difficult to endorse this essence of what it means to be Jesuit....
For those who believe that Christ is the Lord and Savior of the human person, let us not be afraid to follow Him rather than the sirens of the present age who think and claim that they are a part of the enterprise molded by Ignatius but, in fact, are not. Christ engaged the world for the particular objective of human salvation, and this purpose became that of Ignatius of Loyola. May this end be unambiguously reflected in the lives and work of those who follow the Son day after day on the campuses that claim to be Jesuit and Catholic. This work is not one of imposing but of proposing the objective for which the Jesuit order was established.

You can read his whole post here. There is much to ponder and discern.  


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William Rydberg
4 years 3 months ago
I speak only of theological education here. In my opinion. A common theme is the lack of adequate preparation or background before launching in to advance courses. Ignorance of basic Catechetical (I'm talking Adult level) preparation is manifested in comments even here in America Magazine's commentaries. It's not just this magazine, but in many Catholic blogs. A seeming absence of objective knowledge of Church teachings and their basis. In my opinion, on this website, more than a few commentators seem to take the position that not knowing the Catholic Catechetic (Apologetic) side as a badge of honour, evidence of a peculiar "intellectual freedom free from bias". When questioned many are ready to quote their years of Advanced Catholic Education, degrees in "spirituality", etc... But seem to become exorcised when the subject of a Jesuitical "faith seeking understanding approach", so necessary in my opinion is proposed. Is it because the Catholic Church's approach is in their view "simple"? Not worth checking the Manual (Catechism) first, and not worth understanding from an Apologetical perspective before starting out. One wonders? Metaphorically, - while its fine to go to the Store and pick up a Smartphone and operate it without reading the Manual, I seriously doubt that a Cosmonaut would get behind the controls of a multi-rocket reentry vehicle without first reading the Manual. Like God the Church is simple, yet complex, a beautifully profound mystery. Speaking practically, the Church is over 4,000 years old, how can one ignore what a lot of smart dedicated people taught and then claim ignorance of same as a mark or indeed a badge of intellectual freedom. But that kind of hard work isn't sexy and pays poorly. The Vatican tried to to address the issue head-on with the document Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Essentially requiring religious professors teaching Catholicism to publicly commit in writing. But even to this day, it is a dead letter among many Catholic College and Universities. No less a Public Intellectual (and no close buddy of the Church) as Noam Chomsky has described contemporary Tenured Academic Life in general as a kind of anarchistic freedom for the Tenured. In the sense of almost complete freedom to do what one wants with their courses, structure and outline. Hence the need to ask such people to publicly commit to that outlined in Ex Corde Ecclesiae. in Christ, on the Feast of St Hilary of Poitiers, Friend of God and Doctor of the Church...
John Fitzgerald
4 years 3 months ago
My experience is that Catholics of a traditional bent, when confronted by well educated Catholics of a progressive bent, tend to question the progressives' understanding of the faith or loyalty to the Church. Why not accept the fact that there is, and always has been, a wide range of views among good Catholics at all levels in the Church?
Jack Rakosky
4 years 3 months ago
As someone who values Jesuit and Catholic education, I found this legalistic definition of them very unattractive. The whole tone of the article was very judgmental. Pope Francis seems to be very much in the spirit of Ignatius when he attempts to find the good in other people and their proposals rather than judging them. Both Catholicism and the Jesuits have many positives to contribute to education, far more than any one person, or program or educational institute could exhaust. Pope Francis in the Joy of the Gospel presents four principles for the common good and peace of society: 1. TIME IS GREATER THAN SPACE: 2. UNITY PREVAILS OVER CONFLICT: Conflict cannot be ignored or concealed. 3. REALITIES ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN IDEAS. There also exists a constant tension between ideas and realities. 4. THE WHOLE IS GREATER THAN THE PART. An innate tension also exists between globalization and localization. I think it would be very interesting to have a conference, or book or other endeavor exploring Jesuit and Catholic education positively from the perspective of these four principles.
John Fitzgerald
4 years 3 months ago
To help me better understand this piece, I had to read both Fr. Araujo's complete post and the Atlantic article. I found Fr. Araujo overly critical of the article as well as too close in spirit to the legalistically oriented episcopate. I know many Jesuits who would not see things his way. In many countries, for many years (including during Ignatius' day) the Society was accused of not being Catholic enough, of being too willing to accommodate local culture.


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