7. Jesuit Schools are committed to Interculturality

  1. Our world today is marred by polarization and fear of difference. What results is the turn from mutuality and honest discourse to selfishness and superficial intolerance taking many different forms: extreme nationalism, tribalism, racism, sexism and sectarianism. Moreover, a global, market-based consumer culture has often eclipsed local traditions and customs. These dynamics take place on the grand international scale but are also much closer to home. So many communities are torn apart by racial, ethnic and religious tensions and the senseless violence they beget.
  2. Jesuit schools are equipped with a rich spiritual tradition to address these complex phenomena. As Ignatius’ Meditation on the Incarnation recalls, salvation history takes place in all places and is God’s gift to all people. It was with this spiritual underpinning that Jesuit missionaries embraced the process of inculturation: Finding God, already present, in all places while bringing the Gospel message of divine compassionate love.
  3. Though not all Jesuit predecessors exemplified the goals of inculturation, there are striking examples of those who did. From the outset of the Society, Jesuits left the comfort of Europe to find ways to engage people in far-flung parts of the globe. For example, in the Chinese Rites controversy of the 17th and 18th centuries, Jesuits wanted to fuse elements of Confucianism with Catholic worship.
  4. Moreover, the worldwide Society of Jesus recognizes that inculturation and interreligious dialogue are essential components of its mission to promote faith and justice (GC 34). [60]
  5. No culture or society lies outside God’s saving love, and each person has the dignity of being a child of God. Our schools must be places where efforts toward solidarity and partnerships with all people of good will are encouraged and enacted. “Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, together with their social life and culture.” Nostra Aetate [61]
  6. In his address to the education delegates in Rio de Janeiro in 2017, Father General Sosa summarized what ought to be our approach in Jesuit education as we look to affirm what is universal within a multicultural world:
  7. To describe the idea of universality we are seeking in the globalization process, it might be useful to remember the original meaning of the concept of catholic, which referred to the universal nature of the Church, including a broad diversity of different situations.
  8. It is also useful to remember that Pope Francis preferred to use the geometric image of a polyhedron instead of a sphere to refer to globalization.
  9. Both the concept of catholic and the image of the polyhedron adequately include the meaning of interculturality.
  10. Ideally, each human being, or each people, should feel like a part of humanity, and be aware of their own culture (enculturation), without making it absolute.
  11. They should do so critically, joyfully acknowledging the existence of other human beings with different cultures (multiculturality), and establishing relationships of equality with them, enriching themselves with a diversity of cultures that includes their own (interculturality).
  12. Universality experienced in this way may become a way of promoting social justice, fraternity and peace. [62]
  13. Jesuit education should respond positively and actively to the diversity of its students, teachers, parents, communities and the global network of its schools.
  14. Each of us are called to be learners as well as teachers, engaged in the crucial activity of civil discourse for further understanding. In acknowledging that all are created in the image of God, Jesuit education should strive to give equal opportunities for all to participate equitably towards their holistic development. Diversity and difference are gifts to be celebrated in order to create an inclusive society. God is the loving creator of all things, and in God we find our commonality and solidarity.

Exercise 25. For discernment:

  1. How do you assess this challenge?
  2. What are the most significant obstacles?
  3. How can we adapt this challenge for all Jesuit schools so that it reflects the greater good?
  4. In this context, what has your educational apostolate done?
  5. What should your educational apostolate be doing?

Webinar #3: Jesuit Schools are committed to Interculturality
Webinar Series on Jesuit Education: An Integrated (Holistic) Perspective)

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