Ignatian Intellectual's Mission Statement

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A Great Pope Identifies the Urgent Mission of Ignatian Intellectuals in the Modern World

The Society of Ignatians will strive with all its energy to be ever faithful to the ideal of St. Ignatius Loyola by taking to heart these words from the speech, Quamvis inquieti, of Pope Pius XII addressed to the Society of Jesus delegates at the twenty-ninth General Congregation on September 17, 1946.

“Your duty is to be in name and deed not only truly religious men, but also men of great learning.  Carry out the task of teaching theology in word and in writing, biblical and other sacred texts,  the other ecclesiastical disciplines, and philosophy as well.  This high honor belongs to you, a noble undertaking but also the noble reason for which you have assumed this ministry.  For all and for each of those to whom this task has been assigned resounds the cry of the Apostle:  “O, Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge.” (I Timothy 6,20)

“Therefore, to respond faithfully to such a hope, may the Society of Jesus be true to her precepts that prescribe them to follow the doctrine of St. Thomas, “as the most solid, the most sure, the most in agreement with and conforming to the Constitutions” (cf. Epitom. Nn. 315-318), and may they stand with the Magisterium of the Church with that tireless constancy that is associated with your ranks, having, in the words of the Holy Founder himself of your Society, the spirit prepared and ready to obey in everything the true Bride of Christ our Lord, which is our holy Mother, the hierarchical Church”, and “believing that between Christ our Lord, the Spouse, and the Church, his Bride, there is the Spirit himself who governs and rules us for the salvation of our souls; Because by the same Spirit and our Lord who gave the Ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.” (Spiritual Exercises, Rules for having the true Sentiment with the Church, 1a and 13a).

“And if they ought to cultivate faith above all, they must also achieve a careful and accomplished learning, and, following the path of your Rule, pursue advances in thought, as much and however they are able, being convinced that they are able to contribute a great deal by this path, as difficult as it is, to the greater glory of God and to the building up of the Church.  In addition they must speak to men of their own time, as much by speaking as by the written word, in such a way that they are listened to with understanding and with a willing disposition.  It follows that in putting forth and talking about matters in question, in how they frame their arguments and the style of speaking they choose, they need to adapt in a wise manner their discourses to the character and disposition of the time in which they live.

“But that which is immutable, let no one disturb it or change it.  Much has been said, but not enough after due consideration, about the “Nouvelle Théologie”, which, because of its characteristic of moving along with everything in a state of perpetual motion, will always be on the road to somewhere but will never arrive anywhere.  If one thought that one had to agree with an idea like that, what would become of Catholic dogmas, which must never change?  What would happen to the unity and stability of faith?

“As you consider the veneration of indefectible Truth as something holy and solemn, apply yourselves to examine and work out with zeal those problems that cause people of today to vacillate in their beliefs, above all if those problems are able to generate obstacles and difficulties for Christian scholars.  By shedding light on these difficulties and transforming by your effort what seemed to be an obstacle, strengthen their faith in this way.  But when new or bold questions are examined, let the principles of Catholic doctrine shine forth in splendor before the mind.  Let what rings with the sound of something totally new in theology be carefully weighed with a watchful prudence.  Let what is certain and firm be distinguished from what is offered as conjecture, from those things that a transitory and not always praiseworthy way of thinking is able to introduce and insert even into theology and philosophy.  To the one who is in error, let a friendly hand be extended.  But there must be no indulgence at all given to the errors contained in their opinions.

“Having given you this exhortation, dearest friends, we now impart to you with love the Apostolic Blessing, and we invoke upon you with many prayers the assistance of God, without which we can do nothing and with which we can do everything, so that you may consecrate yourselves and your resources in the way of your forefathers and with new zeal for the most holy cause of the Gospel.  Be strong, perform feats of strength. “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory, now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3,18)”

(This address is available on the Vatican site only in Latin. An Italian translation appeared on January 24, 2014 on Chiesa e post Concilio.  This excerpt in English translation is by Fr. Richard G. Cipolla, PhD and appeared at http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2014/02/let-what-is-certain-and-firm-be.html , accessed on July 6, 2015.