“Love of God which does not issue in justice for others is a farce.”Rev. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Former Superior General of the Society of Jesus
We are all aware of the recent deaths of our fellow Americans, including Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. Each life extinguished violently – a result of racial injustice across the country. These events are happening in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which reveals its own kind of racial injustice and inequities.
The communities that our Jesuit colleges and universities call home are not immune to the inequities of society: We must not ignore them. Our institutions have a long history of working to reconcile the Gospel vision of “all created in the image and likeness of God,” with our failure to embrace what we profess as a Christian community.
It took many of us far too many years to open our doors to the African American community members who are our neighbors. In some cases, our founders and early leaders were slaveholders. And still today, we struggle to engage and include everyone in the opportunity to fully realize how we can contribute to our shared future – together.
In these days, when the coronavirus pandemic and police violence clearly impact people of color to a disproportionate degree, we implore our campus communities not just to decry injustice and bemoan the lack of opportunity. Rather, we must all pray, listen, learn and act. We are compelled to do all that we can, to make a difference for the better, for justice and equality.
For more than 200 years, our nation’s Jesuit colleges, universities, high schools and middle schools have taken the slow and deliberate path of educating students for thoughtful, moral citizenship. Our efforts have been well-intended, yet imperfect. Today, the killings of George Floyd and so many others challenge us to act against the overt and unrecognized racism that lurks in the American community and in the recesses of our own hearts. As our Jesuit mission calls us to do, let us use our collective voices as a lever for justice and the common good. We call upon our students, alumni, faculty and staff to take concrete steps to make a difference in our own institutions and in our nation.
Washington, D.C.: June 1, 2020