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Pope affirms Loyola campus values

On January 16, 2014

  • Pope Francis visits a staged Nativity scene at the St. Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori parish church, in the outskirts of Rome. Pope Francis has made a point of interacting with youth in his papacy. AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, ho

Pope Francis is bringing back a more heartfelt perspective to the hierarchy in the Vatican, according to Kurt Bindewald, director of university ministry.

The new pope has been focusing on social justice priorities, rather than exclusively focusing on more traditional Catholic touchstones, such as abortion and anti-homosexual activity. 

Mass communication senior Katie Sloan said she believes Francis is helping to return the church's emphasis to more traditional values.

"The church is going back to the basics of forgiveness, love and working towards peace, inspiring so many people," Sloan said. 

Francis's focus on a wider range of Catholic issues and equality validates the social justice programs the Jesuit institution has been steadily working on for decades, showing the value of students' and faculty's work. 

Jesuit Center Assistant Director for Faculty and Staff Development Ricardo Marquez is pleased at the consistency Francis has been showing in the values of simplicity and helping others.

"Pope Francis invites us to be bridges and not walls, to manifest our faith through good deeds and not impositions of doctrines and regulations. His language is fresh, challenging, stimulating and his leadership is by modeling through humble serving," Marquez said. 

This focus on helping others instead of putting up barriers around the Catholic church and not letting outsiders in inspires to students and staff members alike. 

Catholic studies senior Chad Aubert said he has been steadily following the Pope's actions and words for the past few months. 

"The pope is making enemies by being so welcoming to leaders of other religious affiliations and forgiving others, but I think it's so refreshing to see the pope be so warm-hearted to others. He's reminding us how important it is to be welcoming to all, give back, help others and forgive - ideals that Loyola has always been proud to represent," Aubert said. 

Pope Francis is preaching to a wider range of individuals - namely youth and adolescents - than previous popes have. His emphasis on simple living and giving back to society is relatable for those at Loyola University who aspire to live simply and do a significant amount of community service through projects such as the Loyola University Community Action Program, the first-year service living community SPARK, the Center for Peace and Justice and the Jesuit Social Research Institute. 

Director of Communications at the Archdiocese of New Orleans Sarah McDonald said she believes his focus on the heart is what is enforcing so many different types of people to adhere to his teachings. 

"Pope Francis's words and even more so his actions speak to the hearts of people and have a very positive impact on youth and those who may not even be active Catholics," McDonald said. 

Research Fellow from the Jesuit Social Research Institute Alex Mikulich noted that Pope Francis allows students to realize all of their hard work for those who are less fortunate is also in the name of God and follows the acts of being a good and well-respected Catholic individual. 

"All of Francis's words and actions concern loving and doing justice for the poor and vulnerable in the world! He washes the feet of incarcerated youth, prompting students to more of the social justice work they are already doing and to focus on giving back throughout the respected LUCAP projects," Mikulich said. 

Bindewald said he enjoys seeing Loyola students inspired by Pope Francis and asking more questions about Catholicism than ever before. The pope's focus on giving back to others and living a good life makes  Bindewald proud of his university's emphasis on doing good works and fighting for peace and justice. 

"He's rustling some feathers and reminding everyone about forgiveness. Loyola students work hard to fight for what they think is right all the time, whether on campus, post graduation, by organizing new groups for fellow students, etc. Pope Francis is just a reminder that Loyola has been doing it right all along," Bindewald said. 

Katherine Collier can be reached at 

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