Annotations: Humane and Just World
“If you want peace, work for justice.” This statement by Pope Paul VI in 1972 reflects a core theme of Catholic social thought—that peace is not simply the absence of war but the social conditions that promote the integral human development of all people. The Jesuits, inspired by this social teaching, have emphasized reconciliation as a central aspect of their mission and related to solidarity with the marginalized and the promotion of peace and justice. This was affirmed in a particular way at General Congregations 35 (2006) and 36 (2016). But what does this mean in the context of higher education?
The writers of Characteristics of Jesuit Higher Education summarized this dimension of the Jesuit mission in this way: “We are invited to imagine justice as a generative network of right relationships, and to achieve that we must be ready for a long process of repair and commitment to truth, which may alone yield authentic reconciliation among fractured peoples” (2021). The commitment to reconciliation is therefore directly related to anti-racism, peace building, and the preferential option for the impoverished and oppressed.
In his first address to the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU), in 2018 General Superior of the Jesuits Arturo Sosa, S.J., describes the university as a source of reconciled life. In the text, he highlights the legacy of Jesuit universities that contribute to the transformation of society by exposing and challenging the roots of injustice. To do this, the university must be informed by the perspectives of those on the margins of society. Sosa explains this connection: “When the university is conceived as a project of social transformation, it moves toward the margins of human history, where it finds those who are discarded by dominant structures and powers.”
As we embrace and enact this area of our mission, we are invited to reflect on the following:
- Where do we encounter fractured relationships within our university and local, national, and international relationships?
- What resources can we draw upon from the diverse faith traditions represented at our university to engage in peace building, reconciliation, and social transformation?
- How does the commitment to building a more just and humane world show up in teaching and research? What are the barriers (in the academy and society) to promoting this vision of higher education?
Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities. (n.d.). Characteristics of Jesuit Higher Education. Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities. https://www.ajcunet.edu/s/A-Guide-for-Mission-Reflection_09-21.pdf