The Service of Faith in a Religiously Pluralistic World (part 6)
Keynote address by the Very Reverend Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus
Your system of Jesuit and Catholic higher education in the United States is, as you well know, a very expensive one, involving hundreds of millions of dollars, which you must constantly struggle to maintain. That high cost, however, can be seen as the price of your freedom to raise questions about God and faith and religion in a way no government-supported university in your country has the right to do. You have paid the price for 175 years. You continue and will continue to pay the price. Yet you must also ask yourselves how thoroughly and well you are using the freedom for dialogue and conversation you have purchased at such a great cost.
Your responsibility as educators is certainly to help your students to live and achieve success in an ever more globally oriented society. However, a Catholic and Jesuit university has the responsibility for even more: to prepare students to be leaders in this globally oriented society. We have seen in recent years that much of world politics and economy is rooted in religion but also how political and economic values can become pseudo-religions. Your students must be able to understand how faith in God lies at the heart of our motivation, our compassion, and our dedication. With dearly purchased freedom to carry on the conversation among men and women of faith, Xavier and the Jesuit universities in your country can be leaders in showing the relationship between faith and justice that leads humanity to “the Holy City, the city ablaze with the glory of God, where the nations will walk in God’s light.”14