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St. Ignatius surrenders his sword
before the statue of Black Madonna
at Montserrat

Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus

In 1989, after teaching a semester at Loyola University in New Orleans Father Daniel Berrigan S.J. wrote to the president of Loyola that he wouldn’t be back due to his opposition to the Loyola ROTC program. The University’s president disagreed, replying that “given the reality of the military, it is better to have officers who have the benefit of a Jesuit education.” Berrigan wrote back: “I love your logic. It seems to be that, given the reality of abortion, Loyola should sponsor an institute for abortionist, and given the reality of capital punishment, you should sponsor an institute for executioners.”

This kind of logic was what the Jesuit Catholic universities used for years to justify military training. With the emergence of military training that prepares young men for modern warfare and teaches them how to kill ‘reflexively’, without use of conscience, this type of justification is no longer heard. Presently 24 Catholic Universities, 17 of them Jesuit, host Department of Defense military training centers on campus.

To understand why they teach war and killing, a clear violation of the Gospel teaching of Jesus one can look no further than the Spiritual Exercise of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, “Two Standards” of two commanders in chiefs.

St. Ignatius of Loyola was a soldier in the Spanish court seeking military fame and fortune when a cannon ball shattered his leg. During his recovery he had a conversion, surrendering his weapons and fine cloths to become a became a beggar seeking to follow Jesus in poverty and shame. In his own words he became a soldier of Christ. In the Spiritual Exercises which he wrote shortly after his conversion he has a meditation on the Two Standards (SE 136): one of Christ the Commander in Chief and the other of Lucifer the commander of the enemy of humankind. The standard or strategy of Lucifer is for persons to seek riches, honor and pride. The strategy of Christ is for persons to seek the opposite, poverty, contempt and humility.

In hosting Department of Defense military training centers on campus, ROTC, NROTC and/or AFROTC, the Jesuits profit. The three departments of military science by the Department of Defense on campus bring with them great financial and staff resources (riches). Electing to be a University the US Government has chosen to host military training for colleges and universities in the area is a source of honor. Teaching young men and women the ways of war and killing in service of the USA is a source of pride, pride to be a US military school.

Calls for an explanation, dialog, and to be Faithful to the Gospel have, for the most part, gone unanswered by Jesuit university administrators. Perhaps the above is a too simple an explanation of why Jesuit Universities host Department of Defense on campus but due to a lack of of reasoning by Jesuits, this is a logical explanation.

In another part of the Exercises (SE 98) Ignatius has a prayer to Jesus: “I deeply desire to be with you in accepting all wrongs and all rejections and all poverty, both actual and spiritual—and I deliberately choose this, if it is for your greater service and praise.” If the seventeen Jesuit Catholic Universities elected not to host the military on campus they could still keep all the Federal education monies for other areas of education but would loose military money to teach war and killing, be shamed by the military establishment and be humbled by the government. But Why Not? St. Ignatius and Gospel say so.


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