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The university today is being challenged to reimagine the fundamental paradigm out of which it works, in order better to respond to unprecedented political, cultural and ecosystemic challenges. A Catholic, Jesuit university can and should do this work using resources drawn from its roots in Ignatian spirituality, offering these to all members of the university, whether or not they are Christian or existentially committed to this spirituality. Pope Francis’s writings on education while he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires and his writings on Ignatian spirituality in general provide clues on how to do this. Following these clues leads first to the conclusion that the university should be an instrument of consolation—understood in Ignatian terms—in the world, most prominently by enabling a combative hope for a different kind of world. Second, the way to do this suggested by Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises is to invite all members of the university community into an experience of mercy that recognizes our limitations, frailty and even our failures, but within a broader context of being accepted by God and called to creative agency despite, or even in terms of, these limitations. A realized experience of mercy of this kind is a powerful impetus toward action to understand the world and change it, one that carries key markers of consolation: peace, humility, acceptance of others, courage, hope, and love. In conclusion, some examples of how a university can enable this experience of mercy and consolation are offered.



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