Examining Loyola’s Jesuit values in the abortion debate
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With the dust beginning to settle over the recent events involving Loyola’s Pro-Life Club and the proceeds of The Vagina Monologues, it is a good time to pause and take stock of where the philosophical debate behind the issue lies.
There are two camps divided from one another. On one side, those who are pro-choice emphasize bodily autonomy as moral in reasoning and action. On the other, those who are pro-life believe that life is a basic good and morality dictates that life should not be ended before birth.
These are not the only reasons for being on one side or another, but they are the prevailing relevant reasons. This is nothing new.
There is, however, something quite remarkable about this debate as it stands at Loyola: the school’s status as a Jesuit institution.
The troubling aspect here is that the term “Jesuit” is usually used to suggest an entitled dissent from the Church. From my time at Loyola, I know this is how the term is used in this debate.
However, a cursory investigation into the writings of St. Ignatius would reveal a profound gap between the current use of the term and St. Ignatius’s vision for his religious order.
I don’t believe that any member of the Loyola community could isolate a single value that everyone, most importantly St. Ignatius, would agree is “Jesuit.”
Two examples of St. Ignatius’ Jesuit values are important to consider. The first is constantly repeated at Loyola: critical thinking.
This is not a distinctively Jesuit value. Nearly every college campus will surely mention critical thinking, but there is nothing Loyola does with respect to critical thinking that cannot be gleaned from any other relatively progressive liberal arts college.
The second value is another of the most popular: finding God in all things.
St. Ignatius truly only mentions this once, in response to Fr. Antonio Brandão in June of 1551.
Ignatius writes to Fr. Brandão about seeking God in all things, and after some interpolation adds that God is to be sought by His presence, power and essence.
Ignatius is citing St. Thomas in his letter to Fr. Brandão, and uses the saint’s ideas to explain what has now become this staple of the Jesuit identity.
From these two examples, it is at least clear that Loyola’s dialogue must lie in what Jesuit values are (and determining their relevance) since there is a fundamental disagreement about how they are used.
Resolving how “Jesuit” informs “Jesuit University” is ultimately a more fruitful route, given the stalemate between moral psychologies on campus.