Annotations: Faith and Justice

The Ignatian tradition emphasizes the connection between one’s interior life and commitment to justice. At USF, we celebrate diverse ways of relating to faith, including a diversity of religious experiences and those who find authenticity and purpose outside of religion. Within this diversity, many of us discover areas of resonance with the core values of the university’s Jesuit Catholic tradition, particularly the commitment to justice.  

Justice in the Catholic social tradition is rooted in the recognition of the intrinsic dignity and rights of each person. This includes the right to participate in the common good of society, marked by the flourishing of all people. Rooted in the Gospel, this vision of justice demands a preferential option for those who are oppressed or marginalized. The Catholic social tradition is a living tradition, shaped not only by texts but through people and movements that have put these principles into practice. Exemplars include Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker; Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, who organized US farmworkers; and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose vision of gospel nonviolence shaped the civil rights movement.  

At their 32nd General Congregation (GC 32) in 1975, the Jesuits named the centrality of faith that does justice in a particular way. Under the leadership of Pedro Arrupe, S.J., the Jesuits embraced the commitment to justice in all their works, including universities. His successor, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., spoke directly to the university context at Santa Clara University in his address, “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education.” This address, which launched a regular conference on the Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education, defines “the real measure of our Jesuit universities lies in who our students become” and envisions students prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow with “a well-educated solidarity.”

Therefore, as we deepen our engagement with the mission, we might ask ourselves: 

  • What does a well-educated solidarity look like in practice? What kinds of experiences foster this perspective? 
  • How does this vision of justice connect to the university’s approach to community engagement?  
  • What does solidarity demand within the university? What institutional structures and practices foster solidarity, and what undermines it? 

Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. (n.d.). “Justice in Jesuit Higher Education.” Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies. (1975). “Our Mission Today: The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice,” General Congregation 32 (1975). Boston College, The Portal to Jesuit Studies, Trustees of Boston College.

Kolvenbach S.J., Peter-Hans. (6 October 2000). “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education.” Santa Clara University.