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International Jesuit leader asks U.S. colleges to battle injustice
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct.6, 2000 - Declaring that an international education conference at Santa Clara University can be a watershed point in the history of U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus tonight challenged them to be dynamic forces for social change.
Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, the leader of Jesuits worldwide, was the main keynote speaker at the conference, "Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education," presented jointly Oct. 5-8 by Santa Clara University, Boston College and the University of Detroit Mercy.
The conference, attended by 400 delegates from 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S., plus Roman Catholic leaders from Rome, Latin America, and the Far East, was convened to identify the pursuit of social justice as a central theme for Jesuit higher education. The conference also was the kickoff event for the year-long sesquicentennial celebration of Santa Clara University, California's oldest institution of higher education.
"It is the calling of a Jesuit university to take conscious responsibility for being a source for faith and justice," Kolvenbach told his audience of nearly 900. "Jesuit universities have stronger and different reasons than many other academic and research institutions for addressing the actual world as it unjustly exists and for helping to reshape in the light of the Gospel."
In his speech, Kolvenbach traced the conference theme - to have colleges and universities embrace "an action-oriented commitment to the poor" - back more than four centures to the Jesuits' founder, St. Ignatius Loyola.
Kolvenbach's speech was Webcast to a worldwide audience.
In three days of meetings, delegates will be asked to develop strategies to promote social justice in their local communities and in the world in human rights and women's rights, and in issues affecting refugees, undeveloped nations and the environment.
The third keynote speaker, Claire L. Gaudiani, president of Connecticut College, speaks at 9:15 a.m., Oct. 7, in Mayer Theatre, on "Academic Institutions as Citizens for Justice."
All three keynote speeches are being Webcast at www.scu.edu/bannan/webcast.
For a complete text of Fr. Kolvenbach's speech, click here.
The following translations are available: