Loiola XXI

Lugar de encuentro abierto a seguidor@s de S. Ignacio de Loyola esperando construir un mundo mejor

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Mensaje del Congreso mundial de universidades jesuitas a Nicaragua.

Solidarity with Nicaragua

Members of the Assembly of IAJU expressed their solidarity with Nicaragua this afternoon after the representatives of the Latin American Association read a statement that rejects human rights violations in the country and denounced the threats against the Rector of the UCA, José Alberto Idiaquez. The statement was not discussed or voted, but the members of IAJU made their support known with a standing ovation when Fr. Michael J. Garanzini asked whether it reflected “the feelings in the room”. The statement contains the following points:

  1. We join our concerns with those coming from other Jesuit institutions throughout the world, regarding the deplorable government-sponsored repression and violence in Nicaragua that has claimed more than 350 lives in less than three months.
  2. We reject unequivocally any violations of all human rights, along with any acts of aggression towards any and all citizens.  In particular, we condemn the recent attacks perpetrated by supporters of Nicaragua’s government against a group of Catholic priests led by Nicaragua’s Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes and Bishop Silvio Báez as they helped protesters trapped inside a church.
  3. All attempts to silence or vilify the University of Central America (UCA) Rector, Fr. José Alberto Idiáquez, S.J., in his firm defense of the lives of Nicaragua´s students, represent an explicit abandonment of the ideals of democracy.
  4. We support and uphold the autonomy of institutions of higher education, as supported by the Constitution as well as the inviolability and immunity of university campuses which are for critical thinking and unobstructed expression.
  5. We extend unconditional solidarity to all affected people and families, institutions and universities, their students, professors and administrators, working as they are to protect the rights and security of all students and staff exercising their civil rights guaranteed by the Nicaraguan Constitution.  In particular, we express our solidarity with our Jesuit sister institution, the University of Central America, which calls its students to peaceful advocacy for social justice, even as government violence is intended to suppress dissent.
  6. We add our voice to those of our Nicaraguan colleagues in urging the government of Nicaragua to dismantle paramilitary groups, respect the constitutional rights of its citizens, starting with freedom of expression and peaceful protest; and in supporting the efforts of the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference (CEN) in the search for a negotiated solution to the conflict.
  7. As the tragedy of lost lives grows in Nicaragua as well as in Venezuela, we offer our prayers for peace and reconciliation and extend our solidarity with the cause of justice and democracy in these countries.

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Congreso mundial de universidades de jesuitas. Firma del estatuto en Loyola.

A foundational moment in a foundational place

Coaches departed early in the morning to take all the members of the IAJU Assembly from Bilbao to Loyola. It is a one hour trip to the Urola Valley, a beautiful place in the heart of the Basque Country with a spectacular natural environment and an astounding historical and monumental heritage. The Sanctuary of Loyola, built around the Loyola family Tower House, is the spiritual center of the region and a foundational reference for the Ignatian family worldwide. “This is where everything started 500 years ago” stated Ignacio Echarte SJ, former Secretary of the Society and now a member of the community of Loyola, in his welcoming message.

In this extremely significant place, Jesuit universities from across the world officially constituted today the Association that will afford new opportunities for collaboration among them. The Charter of the new institution was signed at the altar of the Basilica by the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Arturo Sosa SJ, the Secretary of Higher Education, Michael J. Garanzini SJ and one representative from each of the six Conferences or regions of the Society of Jesus: Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, South-Asia, Canada and the United States, and Africa and Madagascar.

Before signing the founding document, Superior General Arturo Sosa delivered his main address to the Assembly. Entitled “The University as a source of a reconciled life”, his words expressed how universities’ endeavours are a way of fulfilling the mission of reconciliation defined by the General Congregation. It is a mission that needs to be carried out with creative loyalty to our tradition and through collaboration. By creating the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU) “we can usher in a new era and a new style of fruitful work within the university”.

During the day, the participants were grouped into the six Conferences of the Society of Jesus, where they discussed specific priorities for each context. The Father General spent half an hour with each of them. We will know some of the results of these discussions tomorrow at the plenary of the Assembly. The day also included some group visits to emblematic Ignatian places around the Sanctuary: the family home of Ignatius, with its Chapel of the Conversion (“the heart of the Sanctuary”); the Hospital of Magdalena, where Ignatius decided to stay when he returned to Azpeitia in 1535; and the birthplace of Blessed Francisco Gárate.

In the afternoon a Holy Mass was held at the Basilica presided by the Father General Arturo Sosa, along with the Provincial of Spain, Antonio España SJ, the Secretary for Higher Education, Michael J. Garanzini SJ, and the Rector of the Sanctuary of Loyola, Juan Miguel Arregui SJ. It was, without doubt, one of the most emotional moments of the entire IAJU Assembly. In his homily, the Father General spoke about the need for “detachment” to follow in Jesus’s steps. This need “not only applies to individuals, but also to institutions”: detachment from what they possess, detachment from what they are and used to be. It is in this same vein that the Society of Jesus has expressed its will to “take the step to become an apostolic body of collaborators, men and women, in a mission of reconciliation and justice”.

A spectacular group photo taken on the staircase of the Sanctuary was the perfect ending to this beautiful day that had moments that are already part of the history of Jesuit higher education and will forever form part of the personal memories of those gathered today in this holy place.