Loyola's Character & Commitment Statement
The following statement represents many months of work by both Jesuit and lay faculty, staff and administrators at Loyola. It was written by the Task Force on Jesuit Identity and approved by the Board of Trustees in November 1980.
- Loyola faces the years ahead with confidence. Relying on God’s providence and assiduously practicing the virtue of discernment, we will plan for what lies ahead. Our society is marked by increasingly rapid change, growing complexity, and a burgeoning pluralism. These realities are not without their impact upon our community. Loyola is today a larger, more complex institution than it was thirty years ago. The student body and the faculty are more numerous and more pluralistic in their composition. Moreover, the proportion of Jesuits at Loyola has declined and may show further decline in the immediate future. It appears beneficial, therefore, that we take stock at this juncture and articulate, without diffidence or defensiveness, our self-understanding and our educational vision.
- Our starting point as a community is our recognition and acceptance of the goodness of all God’s creation and the ideal of human solidarity and community under God. Further, we acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus and affirm that God was in Christ reconciling the world to God. Around this central confession of faith we hope to shape our lives. It would be meaningless for Loyola to label itself Catholic and Jesuit were it not to center its self-understanding upon these truths. Though our world is broken and fragmented by evil, both personal and social, the enfleshment of God’s Son as our brother grounds our hope for the eventual and ultimate victory of goodness and order. God in Christ has called us to choose freely and to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and to do what in us lies to nurture the Reign of God that is aborning in this world where divine and human activities intersect.
- Motivated by the Christian vision of reality, Loyola undertakes its task as a Catholic institution of higher learning in the Jesuit tradition. Loyola’s Jesuits have publicly stated that their "mission is essentially religious but specifically intellectual and educational in the broadest and deepest sense." In all phases of this academic endeavor the university community must strive to achieve the excellence that has come to be synonymous with the Jesuit tradition of learning. As a community of educators and scholars, Loyola’s faculty and staff must be dedicated to excellence in teaching, in research, and in service to the larger community. The university must provide an environment conducive to growth of its faculty and staff and the development of scholarship and understanding of personal values that is so much a part of the Christian tradition. At the same time, concern for the student as a person is central to the Jesuit educational mission. Above all, Loyola will endeavor to develop in its students a love for truth, the critical intelligence to attain it, and the eloquence to articulate it. By word and example, Loyola will dedicate itself to educate our students in the Christian tradition, which we recognize as "not wedded to any given philosophy, science, art or politics...but still not compatible with every point of view." (Loyola University Goals Statement)
- While academic excellence and liberal education are the immediate goals of our university community, they cannot be, in view of our commitment as a Jesuit university, the ultimate raison d’etre. Academic excellence stands in the service of the full human development of persons as moral agents. In this regard, it would be well to recall the role of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola in the development of every Jesuit. After the Gospel, the Exercises are the wellspring of the Jesuit spirit. They endow Jesuit activity with a distinctive quality. Some understanding of the Exercises, therefore, is necessary to understand the ultimate aim of the Jesuit educational endeavor. The Exercises aim to enable a person, with God’s help, to make a Christian choice in regard to the most significant truths and values of life. The choice may be a fundamental option or a conversion affecting the totality of one’s existence. Again, it may simply issue from a periodic reassessment of priorities. Whatever the matter of choice may be, the decision-making process should be marked by certain characteristics. First, it ought to be disentangled from inordinate attachment, disordered affectivity. It must purge itself of bias, prejudice and stereotypical thinking. Only so can it be genuinely free. Second, any significant option ought to be illuminated by human and divine wisdom. No pertinent light that comes to us from history, science, art or religious experience should be ignored. Third, significant choices must not remain merely notional. They must be woven into the texture of one’s life; choice must incarnate itself in action. In the light of the Ignatian ideal, choices are to be made with a commitment to pursuing the greater good in any course of action. Capacity for truly human action is what Jesuit education hopes ultimately to achieve.
- Because education at Loyola is person-centered and concerned ultimately with choice and action, the curriculum, spiritual life and student life must on all levels and in all areas be concerned with values. Our goal is wisdom, not mere technical competence. In this regard it is well to recall that the Spiritual Exercises, as the Gospels before them, while world-affirming, condemn self-aggrandizement and promote service to others. Jesus, the man for others, is for us the archetype. Solicitude for others, not mere efficiency or mere bureaucratic convenience, must motivate us to a concern for all members of the university and to ever-widening circles of concern for our city, our state, our region, our nation and our planet. Because of our human solidarity, a concern for one, even the least of his brothers or sisters, is a concern for all.
- It is understandable then that in the face of our contemporary situation Jesuits the world over have recently determined that the best way to embody their commitment to the Gospel and the Ignatian Exercises is through the promotion of justice animated by faith. Accordingly, Loyola as a Jesuit university embraces the conclusion of the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus that Jesuit education must be a catalyst for needed social change, hence dedicated to fostering a just social order.
- This commitment to social justice can be shared by all who are of good will, thus capable of enlisting the support of our entire community in all its ecumenical diversity and ideological pluralism. We must, therefore, in our policymaking, in our administration, in our entire curriculum, and in the totality of our campus life, strive to bring to life concern for justice to which our Jesuit and Christian heritage commit us. Further, we must challenge all assumptions in light of this commitment. Consequently, as an institution we must be person-centered, not merely bureaucratically efficient.
- All members of the university community, regardless of their personal faith-commitment or value system, are urged to collaborate in the promotion, clarification and pursuit of the objectives set forth in this statement. With full respect for the complexities of a pluralistic culture, with wholehearted commitment to the ideals of religious and academic freedom, and with renewed dedication to the ecumenical spirit of Vatican II, Loyola University is open to any person who sincerely seeks for truth and value. Dialogue and debate concerning controversial issues, even religious ones, are not only tolerated but encouraged. Yet, it should be recognized that the university has an identity defined by its mission that relates to every aspect of institutional life. Deliberate derogation from or subversion of these objectives is incompatible with the university’s mission, destructive of its identity, and disruptive of the university community well-being. The university community should make every effort to reconcile any member who finds himself or herself in conflict with these objectives.
- More could be said about Loyola’s identity. However, what has been said should suffice to spur reflection and dialogue. Loyola is a community given to the pursuit of excellence in teaching and scholarship, personal and spiritual development, and to the promotion of justice and faith in accordance with its nature as an institution of learning. One of the leading challenges to any university today, and especially to Loyola in view of its Jesuit and Catholic character, is to teach an ethic of selfless service and sharing that decisively breaks with the present obsession with joyless and insatiable consumption. Education at Loyola succeeds only to the extent that it leads our community to examine how faith relates to society’s systemic injustice. Moreover, it fails if it does not demonstrate how faith can be coupled with love to move us to action in the pursuit of justice. Jesuit education, then, is the education of persons for others, persons who will seek to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk reverently in the spirit of Jesus as the man for others.