Jesuit Schools Stand Against Hatred, Racism & Anti-Semitism

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Over the past six days, Jesuit campuses have hosted community gatherings, Masses and interfaith prayer services to honor the lives of the victims who were killed in the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, PA on Saturday, Oct. 27, as well as the victims of recent hate crimes in Kentucky and other parts of the country.

Please click on the following school names to learn more: Boston College, Canisius College, College of the Holy Cross, Creighton University, Georgetown University, Gonzaga University, John Carroll University, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola University Maryland, Loyola University New Orleans, Regis University, Saint Joseph’s University, Santa Clara University, Seattle University, University of Detroit Mercy and Wheeling Jesuit University.

Gatherings were also held at Fairfield University and the University of San Francisco. At Rockhurst University, students, faculty and staff are invited to celebrate a Shabbat Service of Solidarity at the New Reform Temple in Kansas City, MO on Friday, Nov. 2.

Saint Joseph’s University houses the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations, which offers courses, programs and opportunities for members of the Jewish and Catholic faiths to engage and learn from each other. In response to the shooting in Pittsburgh, the Institute issued a statement (via e-mail), which reads in part:

“At the Western Wall in 2000, Saint Pope John Paul II forever committed the Catholic Church ‘to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant.’ At the Roonstrasse Synagogue of Cologne in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI lamented ‘the rise of new signs of antisemitism and various forms of a general hostility towards foreigners,’ urging that Jews and Christians ‘must come to know one another much more and much better.’ More recently in 2014, Pope Francis has written that ‘Dialogue and friendship with the Jewish people are part of the life of Jesus’ disciples.’

May the Holy One lead us all along the path of dialogue, remove all hatred from us, and bring us all to divine shalom.”

Read on for more reflections from presidents and administrators of the nation’s Jesuit colleges and universities (please send any additional statements or coverage to Deanna Howes Spiro, AJCU’s Director of Communications: dhowes@ajcunet.edu):

"In times like these it can be difficult to maintain hope that things can change. Yet that is what Jesuit education has done for generations – educated students about differences and tolerance, advocated for peace and social justice and worked for change in an imperfect world."

Linda M. LeMura, Ph.D., President, Le Moyne College
Source: lemoyne.edu

"As Catholics, we revere the Jewish tradition in which our own faith is rooted. As St. Paul tells us in his Letter to the Romans, 'Theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Christ according to the flesh.' For this reason, the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate or 'Our Times' famously made clear that we must condemn and oppose anti-Semitism in all its forms: '…in her rejection of every persecution against any [person], the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.'"

Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., President, University of Scranton
Source: scranton.edu

"Our thoughts, prayers, and pledge of ongoing support for the future are with all the Jewish members of our community, as well as our friends at the Bolton Street Synagogue, which partners with Campus Ministry in its annual pre-fall interfaith pilgrimage. Our faith tradition is strengthened and our community richer through the connections we build with individuals of all beliefs, including Judaism."

Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J.. President, Loyola University Maryland
Source: loyola.edu

"There are many opportunities on our campus to participate in the work of promoting justice. Get involved in these efforts or develop new initiatives. Invite others to join you. Write a note to a friend or colleague for whom this violence hits close to home. Whatever you do, we challenge members of our community to stay focused on the Greater Good. Individually, act in a compassionate and thoughtful way. Collectively, let’s work together to create a society that honors unity and diversity and respects every individual as sacred."

Rev. Michael J. Graham, S.J., President, Xavier University; Janice B. Walker, Ph.D., Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer; Melissa Baumann, Ph.D., Provost & Chief Academic Officer
Source: xavier.edu

"Please pray for an end to hate-filled violence, and that people of goodwill everywhere work to end acts of discrimination and injustice. I pray in thanksgiving for those in law enforcement who—like those involved in this situation—work every day to make our communities safe. Let us keep all those who have been affected by the terrible events of this weekend, including those in our own community, in your thoughts and prayers."

Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil., President, Gonzaga University
Source: gonzaga.edu

"As a country, all of us have been personally affected by these tragedies. Recently it was my own hometown of Pittsburgh. Even as we move ahead it's important to ask what we can do for the victims, for the survivors and for our nation."

Michael R. Lovell, Ph.D., President, Marquette University
Source: @PresLovell

"I struggle to find language to convey how appalling these acts of violence are, not least because they are motivated by hate of ‘the other.’ It seems to me that we have become inured to the use of hate speech and hate symbols—at least those of us who are not the targets of that speech. But make no mistake, this is where such speech ends. This is where it always ends: in pain, death, and unfathomable grief. I know the University community joins with me in praying for the victims of these latest hate-fueled shootings and their grieving loved ones. I hope you likewise join me in a renewed commitment to rejecting hate speech wherever and whenever it appears, and encouraging freedom for all religions to practice peacefully across our country, including Fordham’s campuses."

Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President, Fordham University
Source: Via Campus E-mail

"At Boston College, we are all here to support one another. Please reach out if you want to talk or just need someone to listen. We are united in our resolve to move forward with greater strength….We are BC."

Joy Moore ’81, Hon.’10, Interim VP for Student Affairs, Boston College
Source: bc.edu

"We who profess a belief in the mission and values of this University have long treasured the school’s commitment to social justice rooted in a deep religious sensibility. Jesuit education grounds itself in the commitment to the perfectibility and improvement of the human person, both individually and in society. We all believe in the power of education to develop human potential, improve society, advance knowledge, and promote human rights. Whatever our spiritual traditions, we can embrace the importance of the human dignity of individuals born in the image of the divine creator. If we seek to recognize these fundamental shared values, so much more unites us than divides us, no matter our various differences or occasional disagreements."

Rev. Michael E. Engh, S.J., President, Santa Clara University
Source: scu.edu

"We each occupy space, but we share time. And time is sacred. This is the essence of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s beloved book, The Sabbath. I recognize that time is limited and therefore precious for all of us. However, I believe the recent events of our nation invite us to consider spending sacred time with one another…I hope you will consider sharing some of your sacred time — Sabbath — here on campus, at home or in your community. It just may be the cura personalis we all need and deserve."

Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J., President, Rockhurst University
Source: rockhurst.edu

"In the days ahead, let us look to our own hearts, that we may root out hate and recognize that we belong to one another. And may the memories of the women and men of the Tree of Life Synagogue be for a blessing."

John T. Sebastian, Ph.D., Vice President for Mission & Ministry,
Loyola Marymount University
Source: lmu.edu

"Let us mark who we are by embodying the values and principles that define our life together in community at Regis University. We believe in the goodness of creation and the sacred dignity of all individuals, each made in the image of God, called to grow with others into the freedom of love. We believe that we belong to each other, and that each person shares responsibility for the long, hard work of shaping an inclusive community where all can flourish. We believe that Regis University serves not only itself and its students but is called to be a force for justice and peace in society, above all, in defense of the poor and marginalized. We need to embody these values and principles not only for ourselves but to contribute to the common good of our nation."

Rev. John P. Fitzgibbons, S.J., President, Regis University
Source: regis.edu

"We know our country, our community, and our neighbors. We will go to bed, with heavy hearts, but when the morning comes, we rise. We pull ourselves out of bed and each other out of desolation. And we show up—with resilient spirits and full hearts because a fresh day is an opportunity. Our SLU community prays with and for the families who are broken from acts of anti-Semitism, racism, or any other –ism. We will continue our work to counter any belief or system that is derived from hate and discrimination of the identities that help us express our humanity."

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., President, Saint Louis University
Source: slu.edu

“We are in a time of increasing intolerance, hate and bigotry. While we strive to build a community marked by respect, Holy Cross does not exist apart from these realities. The reports of violence over the last week have put this reality into stark relief for all of us. We mourn the unfathomable loss of life at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and a grocery store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky. And I echo [the] shock and sadness at the report of anti-LGBTQ violence that we received this weekend. Individuals and communities across our country continue to be targeted on the basis of their ethnicity or immigration status, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and other identities.”

Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., President, College of the Holy Cross
Source: holycross.edu

"Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel observed that while ‘some are guilty, all are responsible.’ Our responsibility at Loyola is to create a safe, sacred space of deep inquiry and debate, a space in which we can come together from many backgrounds and perspectives to address our most urgent problems and challenges. Together, we engage in reasoned discourse and collective action to help the poor and marginalized because of our faith tradition. We can exercise our hard-earned franchise to vote."

Jo Ann Rooney, J.D., L.L.M., Ed.D., President, Loyola University Chicago
Source: luc.edu

"I am proud to be a member of this diverse, inclusive community. In this troubling, frightening time, I urge you be vigilant in standing for USF values, for unity in diversity, and inclusive excellence based on mutual respect. Later this week, we are invited to celebrate the Feast of All Saints, when we recall the heroes and the exemplars of the past. The following day, we celebrate All Souls, when we invoke all who have gone before us into the peace of God's rest. May they pray for us and guide us in the ways of peace."

Rev. Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J., President, University of San Francisco
Source: usfca.edu

"We are deeply saddened and devastated by [the] shocking tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This senseless act of violence and hate contradicts every human value that we hold dear at John Carroll University. As a Jesuit Catholic University, we are especially disturbed that a religious institution was targeted."

Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D., President, John Carroll University
Source: jcu.edu

"As members of the Spring Hill College community, your continued prayers, belief in justice and the God that connects us all is a strength unlike any other. It’s a strength that will help heal the wounds of this tragedy. And a strength that will help chart a new course toward peace, civility and humanity."

E. Joseph Lee II, Ph.D., Interim President, Spring Hill College
Source: shc.edu

"Being part of a Jesuit university calls us to work to better the lives of those who suffer at the hands of injustice and inhumanity by way of the examples and values that we work and live by. It means being peacemakers, reaching out compassionately to one another and healing a broken world."

Rev. Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J., President, Seattle University
Source: seattleu.edu