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John W. O’Malley, S.J. highlighted the “pagan” origins of the texts recovered from classical antiquity by Renaissance humanists. Although these ancient writers had no relationship to either the Jewish or Christian religions of the Book, their writings were nevertheless valued for offering wisdom and moral insights. Thanks to the epideictic rhetorical genre, shared appreciation across boundaries was emphasized. However, O’Malley also avoided rigidity or literalism in applying principles of the past to contemporary circumstances. Ancient documents are one kind of source; the “social history” in actual practice and application of those documents is another kind of source. This essay surveys some moments in the social history of Jesuit higher education in the post-1814 (post-Restoration) context: an ongoing process of adapting to (or accommodating) challenges posed by the 19th- and 20th-c. USA contexts. A concluding glance at unusual sources used in two recent encyclicals of the Jesuit Pope Francis, suggests broader horizons for future shared appreciations.



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