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Envisioning Higher Education in the 21st Century: A Conversation with Juan José Etxeberria, SJ, at Deusto University of the Society of Jesus

Date$of$submission:$2017)09)26$$$ $$
Date$of$acceptance:$2017)12)01$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ !$Encounters*in*Theory*and*History*of*Education*151*
This interview with the Vice-Rector for University Community, Identity and Mission of
the University of Deusto, Juan José Etxeberria, S.J., provides an opportunity to learn about the
situation facing higher education establishments of the Society of Jesus in the 21st century,
specifically the University of Deusto. The nearly 500 years of experience gained by Jesuits in
higher education should pay special attention to the arguments maintained by Basque Jesuits
within a context of social, economic, and cultural change in which Western societies are being
shaped by plural ways of coexisting (Berger, 2014).
Fr. Juan José Etxeberria occupies a privileged position within the hierarchy of the
University of Deusto, from which he can examine this changing context. The university
establishments attached to the Catholic Church are facing the challenge of ensuring that her
particular voice is heard within the full competitive spectrum of higher education in a globalized
world. To enable the reader to take full advantage of the words transcribed from the interviewee,
this interview includes a brief introduction that covers three points: a concise description of the
history of the Society of Jesus and its contribution to higher education, a brief history of the
University of Deusto, and an outline of Fr. Juan José Etxeberria’s academic career.
The Society of Jesus was founded as a religious order by Ignatius of Loyola in 1534.
Official approval of the order came six years later in 1540, in Rome (O’Malley, 1993).
Historically, the Society has pursued its missionary activity in India, China, Japan, Canada, the
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United States, and in Latin America, including countries such as Bolivia, Paraguay, Mexico, and
Argentina. Active participation in theological disputes and its confrontation with the
Enlightenment are also major events in the Society’s history. However, the Society’s
contribution to the field of education, and in particular to higher education, is perhaps one of the
Jesuits’ most distinguishing features. The main outcome of the educational and intellectual
apostolate, which has evolved since the 16th century, is the large network of schools and
universities that Jesuits run across five continents.
Attention should be drawn to the leading role played by the Jesuits in the problems
experienced by the Catholic Church in the 20th century. We want to highlight here the
development of the nouvelle théologie consolidated in France as a result of the work of
theologians such as Jean Daniélou and Henry de Lubac (Mettepenningen, 2010). These last two
scholars, who were initially received with suspicion within the papal Curia, became a reference
point during the theological debates that determined the essence of the Second Vatican Council.
The Society faced new challenges in 1965 when Pedro Arrupe became Father General of
the Society of Jesus (Valero, 2007). On the one hand, Jesuit numbers started to drop
considerably, but, on the other hand, there was also the consolidation of liberation theology in
Latin America, in which a large number of Jesuits took part. Moreover, the Second Vatican
Council gave the Society the chance to re-orient its apostolate. The General Congregation 32 of
1975 was crucial for consolidating the Society’s mission and structuring it around two clear
pillars: faith and justice. These two pillars would form the backbone of the mission of higher
educational establishments run by the Jesuits, in addition to inter-religious dialogue and dialogue
with other cultures.
The University of Deusto was founded in 1886. The Enseñanza Católica (Catholic
Teaching) company was in charge of buying land in the then municipality of Deusto and the
construction of the first university building. This company was established in 1883 by wealthy
partners from Bilbao (Sáez de Santamaría, 1978). Within the first few decades of its founding,
the new site would not only become a symbol of the role of the Society of Jesus in Basque
society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but also of the growing social, cultural, and
economic development in Vizcaya (Biscay) at that time.
Today, the University of Deusto has six Faculties: Economics and Business
Administration, Social and Human Sciences, Law, Engineering, Psychology and Education, and
Theology. The university project is in accordance with specific guidelines that define the nature
of the institution:
The University of Deusto aims to serve society through its contributions with a Christian
approach to today’s realities.
As a university, its guidelines are love of wisdom, desire for knowledge and rigour in
scientific research and methodologies. Therefore, its main focus is on achieving excellence
in research and education. Another objective is to provide the background for free persons,
who are responsible citizens and competent professionals, equipped with the knowledge,
values and skills needed to take on the commitment to foster learning and transform
society. (University of Deusto, 2015)
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On 8 June 2015, at the main hall of the University of Deusto, Fr. Juan José Etxeberria
took office as Vice-Rector for University Community, Identity and Mission. It can be said that
Fr. Etxeberria’s trajectory within the Society of Jesus has been a wide-ranging one. He entered
the Society in 1984 and was ordained a priest in 1995. He pursued his academic training in top
educational establishments for Jesuits in Europe, such as the University of Deusto (The Basque
Country, Spain), the Catholic Institute of Paris (France), and the Gregorian University (Rome).
He obtained his PhD in Canon Law from the Gregorian University. In February 2008, Fr.
Etxeberria was appointed Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in the Province of Loyola by the
Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás. Furthermore, he has wide
experience teaching young Jesuits, has been a lecturer in the Faculties of Law and Theology at
the University of Deusto, and has held the post of Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Law.
Visitación Pereda Herrero and Jon Igelmo Zaldívar: What is the mission of Catholic
universities today?
Fr. Juan José Etxeberria Sagastume: An accurate response to this question can be found in the
document Ex Corde Ecclesiae (14) about Catholic universities, published by John Paul II in
1990: “it is evident that besides the teaching, research and services common to all Universities, a
Catholic University, by institutional commitment, brings to its task the inspiration and light of
the Christian message” (John Paul II, 1990).
VPH & JI: To be more precise, how is higher education integrated into the apostolate of the
Society of Jesus?
JJES: The mission of the Society of Jesus nowadays involves the service of faith and the
promotion of justice, as well as dialogue with culture and other religious traditions. Within that
context, the intellectual apostolate has developed a basic apostolic field of our mission from its
beginning. That’s why the history of the Society of Jesus advocates university work as being one
of the main tasks that can be developed by the Society itself, so as to serve its purpose in the
service of God and the best benefit for humanity. This is nothing new, because right from the
start St. Ignatius himself insisted on the fact that Jesuits should, above all, be present in places
others might find more difficult to reach. Therefore, the Jesuits, since the time of the first
companions, who were “masters in arts,” have pursued many fields of knowledge and we
continue to do so today. This is part of a long tradition.
And this remains the case. The 35 General Congregation1 pointed out that “the intellectual
apostolate has been a defining characteristic of the Society of Jesus from its beginning. Given the
complex yet interrelated challenges that Jesuits face in every apostolic sector, GC 35 calls for a
strengthening and renewal of this apostolate as a privileged means for the Society to respond
adequately to the important intellectual contribution to which the Church calls us” (GC 35: 3,
39). Likewise, both previous Father Generals have placed the intellectual apostolate (hence
including the university mission) among the five priorities of the universal Society of Jesus. On
the other hand, taking a look at our European milieu, there are hardly any university
establishments or forces existing that are attached to the Church even fewer that are governed
1 A General Congregation (GC) is the highest legislative body of the Society of Jesus.
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by the guidelines of the Society of Jesus. The latest General Congregation, 36, also takes into
consideration this issue: “The intellectual apostolate should be strengthened to help in the
transformation of our cultures and societies” (GC 36: 134). In the documentation of this General
Congregation there is also a letter of gratitude from Fr. Federico Lombardi to Fr. Adolfo
mentioning the importance of this issue for the Church and the world: You reminded us that the
intellectual apostolate must continue to be one of the characteristics of the Society's service to
the Church and to the world, and you effectively encouraged the commitment of our whole Order
in supporting the institutions and missions which the Holy See has entrusted to her in Rome for
the good of the universal Church(Society of Jesus, 2017).
VPH & JI: Therefore, can it be said that the very identity of the Society is historically
intertwined with higher educational establishments?
JJES: The Society of Jesus pays special attention to its contribution to the university field within
the current context. The Company’s motto of service to faith and promotion of justice, being in
the frontiers, and building bridges for dialogue with diverse cultures and religious traditions still
remains valid. And doing so through the universities remains valid, both by training
professionals as well as generating knowledge that may help to offer an answer to current
problems and transform reality.
Identity, in the case of a Jesuit university, does not only refer to the number of Jesuits, but rather
to its identification with the mission of promoting values, contributing to analysis, research, and
transferring knowledge when faced with our modern-day challenges. Without a doubt, the
origins of higher education within the Society are linked to its charisma: serving others. The
Jesuits’ scientific tradition is explained by its Ignatian spirituality, which seeks to find God in all
things, in the blend of work and prayer, and a preference for working at the frontiers.
The entire university should be at the service of the construction of the Kingdom of God, of the
transformation of our society in which everyone – without exception can live with their human
rights respected, and this should be done on a universal basis. This fact is very much present in
Ellacuría’s thought (Sobrino & Alvarado, 1999).
VPH & JI: The Society has experienced times of change over the last 50 years since the time of
the Second Vatican Council. It can be understood that the impact on the intellectual apostolate
and higher educational establishments has been considerable, especially in the years since the
Council met.
JJES: First, I want to mention the General Congregation 31 of 1965. There are two decrees
issued by this General Congregation that I would like to draw attention to regarding the
intellectual apostolate. One of these decrees is No. 28, entitled “The Apostolate of Education.”
This decree recognises the doubts that exist about this apostolate. It points out that “there are
some members of the Society, however, who think that our educational institutions in certain
parts of the world have become practically useless and should therefore be given up” (Society of
Jesus, 1967a). On the other hand, it reinforces the fact that our Society “may think with the
Church concerning the paramount importance and effectiveness of the educational apostolate,
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particularly in our times.” It also states that the Jesuits “have a high regard for the apostolate of
education as one of the primary ministries of the Society.”
Also from the GC 31, in the decree related to the intellectual apostolate (No. 29, “Scholarly
Work and Research”), for the first time a decree was devoted to the field of research at a General
Congregation. The General Congregation retained the importance of this ministry: “Jesuits
should have a high regard for scholarly activity, especially scientific research properly so called,
and they are to view this as one of the most necessary works of the Society.And some reasons
were given: It is a very effective apostolate, entirely in accord with the age-old tradition of the
Society from its earliest times. It is a generous response to recommendations that the popes have
often repeated, especially during the past hundred years” (Society of Jesus, 1967b).
VPH & JI: Although it was at the GC 32 of 1975 when the Society, with Father Arrupe at the
helm, put the question of social justice at the heart of the apostolate, could it also constitute a
major element in reconsidering Jesuits’ work and their higher educational establishments?
JJES: The option for “faith and justice” was a core aspect of this General Congregation the
main concept of this GC 32 (Decree 4, “Our Mission Today: The Service of Faith and the
Promotion of Justice”). This option reformulated the original mission pursued by the Society by
incorporating faith and justice as key elements of all apostolates within the context of the 20th
century. It might have been interpreted as showing that the intellectual apostolate had no place in
such a formulation, because serving the poor did not imply the intellectual dimension of the
Jesuits’ mission. However, this GC highlights the fact that the service of faith and the promotion
of justice are linked to the intellectual apostolate. According to GC 32, in its Decree 4, serving
faith demands an analysis of “the main problems which the Church and humanity ought to be
coming to grips with today,” a renewal of “the structures of theological reflection,” and the need
to find “a new language, a new set of symbols” (Society of Jesus, 1975).
There is an interesting document from 1976 by Father Pedro Arrupe about the role of the
intellectual apostolate in the Society of Jesus (Superior General from 1965 to 1983). In this text,
he defends the fact that to make the intellectual dimension part of a Jesuit’s preferential apostolic
options, there is a need to work on research and scientific tasks.
VPH & JI: In this sense it could be understood that the mandates of the former Father
Generals, Kolvenbach (1983-2008) and Nicolás (2008-2016), are a continuation of the period in
which Fr. Arrupe led the Society, although there are some different aspects in the definition of
intellectual apostolate that would be interesting to comment on.
JJES: During his 25 years leading the Society, Fr. Kolvenbach showed an interest in the
university mission pursued by the Society of Jesus. It is necessary to examine the “Ledesma-
Kolvenbach” model here. In the 16th century, Fr. Ledesma referred to the four aims of the Jesuit
university: utilitas, iustitia, humanitas, fides (Agúndez Aúndez, 2008). Fr. Kolvenbach used
these aims to speak of the university today.
Fr. Adolfo Nicolás also insisted on the identity and mission of Jesuit universities in his discourse.
In his texts several concepts were highlighted as being core today in the process of renewal of
our universities: depth, universality, and creativity.
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In recent years, there was the publication of an issue of the journal Promotio Iustitiae, published
by Fr. Patxi Álvarez de los Mozos, SJ, (dealing with the promotion of justice in Jesuit
universities). This is an interesting study about the raison d’être of Jesuit universities and their
orientation towards social justice. Four dimensions of the university are studied in this
publication (student formation, university research, social projection, and the university
community) from a point of view of the challenges faced and existing good practices (Álvarez de
los Mozos, 2015).
Moreover, the recently appointed Father General, Arturo Sosa, has also spoken about this topic
at the University of Antonio Ruiz de Montoya (Peru) in March: “What we call the intellectual
apostolate is central to the mission of the Society today, as it has been from its inception. The
complexity of the world’s problems makes intellectual reflection even more urgent and central,
in order to render quality service to humanity, starting from the mission of the Church” (Sosa,
VPH & JI: After this interesting look back on what the years following the Second Vatican
Council have meant to the Society of Jesus, what do you think are currently the distinguishing
features of Catholic universities and, specifically, of Jesuit universities in the 21st century?
JJES: It is relevant to reflect on the meaning and mission of Catholic universities if we wish to
improve the service they provide within the current context – both locally and globally. To
understand this aspect the university’s three classic functions should be considered: teaching,
research, and social projection. According to Fr. Ignacio Ellacuría’s school of thought, working
in teaching, research, and social projection is eminently practical, even though it may appear
theoretical in other words, the objective is to offer a fundamental contribution to the social
transformation of the country as a whole.
To answer this question, it is worth returning to the Ledesma-Kolvenbach model mentioned
earlier. In this model; there are four aims proposed by the Spanish Jesuit, Fernando Ledesma,
Rector of the “Colegio Romano” in the 16th century: humanitas, utilitas, iustitia, and fides.
The first concept – humanitas refers to the intellectual training of the human being. The
commitment to intellectual activity is a characteristic of the Society of Jesus. Official Jesuit
documents insist on the need for an intellectual dimension of all ministries within the Society
and for the university intellectual apostolate. Nowadays, different types of thought can be
distinguished in the Educational Model of the University of Deusto (MAUD): analytical,
systemic, critical, creative, reflective, logical, analogical, practical, deliberative, and team
thinking. These different types of thought are very important general competences for the
student’s intellectual development.
Utilitas refers to the practical nature of the mission and university education. Being aware of
students’ future needs is something common to Jesuit universities. For instance, in 2006, in his
speech to the university faculties of Notre Dame de la Paix, Peter Hans Kolvenbach expressed
that Jesuit education should be eminently practical, ensuring that students acquire the knowledge
and competences necessary to be outstanding in their area of knowledge (Kolvenbach, 2008).
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University reforms that have taken place since the Bologna Process have focused on the need for
proximity to the world of business and employability. There are degrees that ensure a high level
of employability and have a great number of students. However, the question remains: is this the
only way of determining university strategy? The concept of utilitas according to the Ledesma-
Kolvenbach paradigm, without a doubt, acts as a counterpoint to “utilitarianism.”
The third feature of the classical Jesuit education refers to iustitia. This dimension incorporates
ethical training, values, and the search for truth as part of the academic life of all universities. In
the apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, John Paul II wrote: “The present age is in urgent
need of this kind of disinterested service, namely of proclaiming the meaning of truth, that
fundamental value without which freedom, justice and human dignity are extinguished” (John
Paul II, 1990). Social, cultural, political, and economic problems need to be present within the
university framework of teaching, research, and social projection. That’s why there is so much
insistence today in documents of the Society of Jesus about the matter of the university being at
the service of justice.
The fourth feature fides is related to the promotion of faith in the public domain. Within a
Catholic confessional university context, this consists of academic training and critical thinking
about Christian faith. In other words, being able to reason and explain one’s freely chosen faith
and values in a cultured language, and one which is coherent with our contemporary culture.
Within a non-confessional or multi-religious context, the fides dimension depends on the
meaning of life and focuses on intercultural competences. Understanding other ways of thinking,
learning to respect them, and creating channels for inter-religious and intercultural dialogue are
new challenges for the times in which we are currently living.
VPH & JI: How significant is social projection within Jesuit higher education projects?
JJES: There are many university activities that are not directly linked to the classroom or
publications. Rather, their approach is clearly defined by their relationship with the milieu. Since
the end of the last century, there has been a rising awareness of social projection as a function of
the university. This matter came to be known under different names: social engagement,
community engagement, civic service, social responsibility, etc.
These functions are linked to the university’s relationship with the business, associative, and
institutional fabric. Our research should not simply serve the purpose of being published for the
sake of being published or entering academic publishing groups. It should also seek to have an
impact on the milieu, on the social context, on the nearby institutions and businesses. The
expression “valley of death” is sometimes used to refer to the gap or insurmountable distance
existing between what certain technology centres or universities produce and their real
usefulness to companies. The needs of nearby institutions should be taken into consideration in
the issues being dealt with by the university.
The university may also foster agreements with companies in the form of internships, and
agreements with social institutions to promote “service-learning” experiences, in which there is a
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supervised experience that involves student immersion in areas of injustice and direct contact
with the individuals who suffer most in society.
VPH & JI: It could therefore be understood that social projection has a specific weight in the
field of research. How do you think social projection and research can be articulated through
the university?
JJES: In the field of research and the transfer of knowledge, the mission of Jesuit universities
takes on a preferential option for the poor. It is a commitment that means in-depth knowledge
and wisdom about reality. That is, a frontier research incarnated in reality and facing society’s
current challenges.
VPH & JI: Recently, as a consequence of the so-called Bologna Declaration (1999), European
universities have been compelled to undertake a series of transformations in order to come into
line with what is referred to as the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Could it be said
that these changes have been in harmony with the mission of Jesuit universities, or are they
contrary to it?
JJES: Indeed, the changes have affected the three classic university roles already mentioned:
teaching, research, and social projection. Thanks to their previous experience in student mobility,
the Experiential Learning Model, and relations and research with institutions and social agents,
Jesuit universities have not only managed to adapt to new EHEA demands but have also led
work teams from different international universities. For example, the Tuning Project,
coordinated by the Universities of Deusto (Spain) and Groningen (Holland), has been a reference
point to establish a credit system to measure work (ECTS), study, as well as general and specific
competencies for each discipline and thematic area.
VPH & JI: Focusing the interview on the geographic context common to the University of
Deusto, how does the Vice-Rector of Identity and Mission consider the university’s performance
within the context of the Basque Country?
JJES: The role of the university is essential for a country’s development. On many occasions,
the discussion clearly focuses on a negative appraisal of the university system – for instance, the
usual discourse stating that the university system is insufficiently developed and little connected
to society and the world of business. Well, concerning this issue, it’s possible to make three
Firstly, the lack of connection and cooperation shows the fragility of the system in general.
Cooperation depends on the will of a set of agents and on the mechanisms that encourage the
system. In the Basque Country, to be able to understand the current situation of the university
system, many factors need to be borne in mind: the way the Basque science and technology
system is structured, the functions entrusted to each type of agent, and the level of public
Secondly, and continuing on from the previous point, one could say that the university has, in
some way, seen the scope of its role in the system reduced, especially focusing on the training of
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professionals and citizens as well as basic and applied research. nevertheless, in both areas, the
Basque university system performs well. Both the skills of graduates and their level of
employability show the extent to which the university is connected to society and the world of
Lastly, I would also like to draw attention to the fact that most of the Basque universities, and
obviously the non-state universities, have made and continue to make major efforts to remain
close to the production system and social institutions using their own resources.
VPH & JI: What are the research requirements and challenges for the University of Deusto?
JJES: Firstly, I would like to point out that the Basque Country, as a region, has an extensive
network of science and technology agents, which is a strong asset in the fields of science,
research, and development. However, there are needs and research areas that are not sufficiently
Of course, there are traditional priorities, but there is a certain lack of long-term vision in niches
of opportunity. Indeed, traditional priorities linked to the country’s industrial development are
needed, although perhaps there should be a more solid long-term vision for research capacities to
be strengthened – not only in traditional sectors, but also in those niches of opportunity linked to
the area.
Another matter is that of research on challenges and social transformation. There is a need to
support action-research projects aiming at the social transformation of the area issues such as
creative industries, organizational innovation, citizens’ empowerment, participative design of
policies and strategies, social transformation, demography and aging, employment niches, and
innovative cities and territories. These are aspects in which the University of Deusto has the
capacity to work and develop.
Lastly, it’s important to mention financial support for research. It is significant that, although a
2% growth in public budget has been announced for the next few years, and 4% for the following
four-year period, this is not reflected in a firm commitment to the development of universities–
especially in the case of non-state institutions–when other budgets have increased significantly.
VPH & JI: It is well-known that there have been significant changes within the political context
in the Basque Country since 2010. What is the positioning of the University of Deusto regarding
the new political scenario following the definitive ceasefire announced by ETA?
JJES: To start with, I should like to point out that reconciliation is a fundamental dimension of
the mission of the Society of Jesus. Among our documents there can be found one called
“Reconciling the estranged(Formula of the Institute, 1550 as cited in O’Malley, 1993). The
General Congregation of 2008, No. 35, expressed the mission of the Society of Jesus in terms of
re-establishing relations as “we become able to bridge the divisions of a fragmented world”
(Society of Jesus, 2008: 3, 17). Reconciliation and working for peace are something very
common to our mission, taking into account the disputes, division and suffering existing in our
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Referring to the historical issue, the Basque Country has experienced many vicissitudes and there
was growing turbulence during the 20th century. Without attempting to delve in-depth into the
causes – which have been subject to much debate, but about which there is no social consensus –
the fact is that the diversity of different cultures and national political projects both confront and
divide our society. This has had serious consequences for coexistence as well as causing other
basic problems regarding approaches to social justice: to receive recognition from others, to the
right to one’s own identity, to be able to express yourself in your own language and culture, and
to a right to reparation, not forgetting the suffering this situation has caused.
More steps have been taken in matters of justice than in those of peace. There has been little
systematic work done in favour of peace, and there has not been a shared view in this respect.
This lack of definition, combined with the plurality of visions, has been a step back in the area of
reconciliation. The conflict has been studied at the University of Deusto, previously in the
Faculty of Humanities and now in the Centre for Applied Ethics. There has been mediation
between victims and victimisers, and a constructive view of the conflict has been made public,
pursuing justice for the victims as well as encouraging reparation and reconciliation.
VPH & JI: Sometimes there is the feeling that the political conflict has concealed or set aside
other conflicts that have reshaped Basque society in recent decades. Such is the case with
migratory movements that, in the case of the Basque Country, have had a major impact over the
past two decades.
JJES: The arrival of immigrants in the Basque Country is a new phenomenon in comparison to
other countries in Europe. During the decade prior to the economic crisis in Spain, the Basque
Country had experienced the highest growth rates in terms of the percentage of foreigners in
Europe, rising from zero to 10 or 20%, depending on the region.
It is true to say that in spite of the rapid development of this phenomenon, there have been no
outbreaks of violence linked to this problem. However, the situation of migrants is one of
considerable marginalization and high poverty rates, stigmatization in the media, and they have
had serious difficulties living with dignity. All this is caused by legal and administrative
obstacles to regularize their stay and problems accessing public services. The religious question
is also an issue, particularly for believers of Islam.
The Society of Jesus has informed and tried to raise awareness about the network of migrations
in the Basque Country in a project about showing and systematizing experiences as well as
publishing a catalogue of good practices – which are interesting rather than excellent – that
incorporate three dimensions: inclusive education in diversity, promotion of responsible
citizenship in conditions of equality, and the defence of religious pluralism.
Nowadays, it is a question of social emergency in which our credibility as a society, capable of
fraternity, is at stake. It is shocking to see the natural way in which individuals of great social
and political importance take for granted the deaths of people on the southern borders of Europe.
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VPH & JI: At a sociological level, a phenomenon that has emerged in Basque society is that of
secularization. One could even speak of a rapid secularization process that has been taking
place over the last few decades of the 20th century and the early 21st century. How has this rapid
secularization affected a Catholic higher educational establishment such as the University of
JJES: Secularization is an issue of great importance within the current context of Basque and
Spanish society. According to data submitted by Professor Javier Elzo2 at a conference, the
percentage of Basques who consider themselves either atheist or non-believers is 28%, higher
than the number of practicing Catholics, calculated at 19%. The total number who say they are
Catholics, whether practicing or otherwise, is 67% – a slightly lower percentage than that
provided by the most recent Barometers at the Centre of Sociological Research (CIS) for Spain.
Percentages are clearly higher among women. Moreover, this percentage is higher in Alava than
in Vizcaya, and the lowest figures are in Gipuzkoa.
Data confirm the importance of the secularization process over the past fifty years in the
Autonomous Community of the Basque Country. Thus, while 50% of the population over 65
claim to be practicing Catholics, this figure drops to 5% among young people between 18 and
29. In other words, 51% of young people claim to be atheists or non-believers, while 7% of those
over 65 state this.
It can be seen that there is a growing secularization that rejects whatever is religious and tends to
conceal and confine faith to private circles. The social environment encourages ways of behaving
that make faith difficult to maintain, such as individualism, consumerism, and materialism. In
addition, the Church inspires distrust, although Pope Francis has considerably improved its
As a result of this situation, there is a call for evangelization, for inculturating faith within the
current context, so as to help people experience it by means of new plural scenarios. The role of
the Church is becoming diminished within current contexts at an alarming rate. Religious
practice is in constant decline, and our churches are frequented by an increasingly small number
of elderly people. That’s why the question that comes to mind is the following: Will we be able
to pass on Christian faith to the coming generations? This question can’t be easily answered
personal faith can be a somewhat treacherous discovery.
VPH & JI: It is obvious that the 21st century presents considerable challenges for the Catholic
Church, and therefore, also for the Society of Jesus and its educational and intellectual
apostolate. It is also true to say that the current Pope, the Jesuit Jorge Bergoglio, has given
significant hope to major sectors of the Church that in recent years had felt rather removed from
official Church discourse and particularly that of the Curia. What’s your opinion about these
JJES: Our ecclesiastical life may also have areas of conflict, and Pope Francis can help us to
overcome possible dichotomies within the ecclesiastical community.
2 The data belong to the Basque Government Sociometer and were provided by personal request to the Sociological
Research Office of the Basque Government in November 2013.
D.*Fernández*Nogueira,*et*al.** * Envisioning*Higher*Education*
Speaking about the feeling the Jesuits have for the Church, Father Adolfo Nicolás invited us to
exercise pastoral responsibility within different cultural and ecclesiastical contexts. Among the
questions raised, special mention should be made to the following: How can we reinforce the
Church’s credibility in places where it has been discredited? How can we ensure more solid and
profound faith among different types of believers who are facing very diverse cultural
challenges? How can we Jesuits, in all our apostolic institutions, reach out and act as bridges in
the Church, especially in local churches that suffer from polarization and lack of unity?
A new era has arrived with Pope Francis. It could be a good idea to speak about some features of
the Church that Pope Francis is considering.
The Pope demands a Church for the poor. In the homily of the inaugural Mass of his papacy on
19 March, he insisted on the fact that genuine power derives from service, especially serving the
poor, the weakest, and the least important. Therefore, there is a great desire for absolute,
affective, and effective commitment on the part of the Church to the poor.
Another feature considered by Pope Francis refers to a compassionate Church close to the people
Miserando atque eligendo (looking at him/her with mercy, he chooses him/her). This was the
main idea in his first homily on 17 March, to which he alluded in his first Angelus: “I think and I
say it with humility – that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy” (Francis I, 2013). In
the words of the Pope himself: “It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high
cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can
talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to start from the
ground up” (Fr. Spadaro, 2013).
Likewise, Pope Francis talks about a Church that is open to new paths incarnated in the reality of
our times, and which enable us to avoid the spiritual disease of a self-referential Church without
losing sight of its necessary decentralisation.
Lastly, from Francis’s papacy there is the notion of a Church engaged in dialogue, in
discernment and at the frontiers. Dialogue here refers to the conviction that the other person has
something good to say, considering their point of view, their proposal, and, of course, avoiding
relativism. Humble, open-minded intelligence seeks God in all things via spiritual discernment.
And it is important to maintain this dialogue and discernment across the social, geographic, and
religious frontiers of the time.
VPH & JI: Returning to the question of discernment, stated as one of the most important aspects
of Pope Francis’s papacy, discernment is also of great significance to the Jesuit intellectual
apostolate, mentioned at the beginning, and can be viewed as a matter of great importance for
higher educational establishments attached to the Society of Jesus. What do you think?
JJES: Discernment means being alert in three areas. Firstly, priority values that need to
condition decisions and policies: the dignity of the individual and their rights, as well as justice
(Mollá, 2014).
D.*Fernández*Nogueira,*et*al.** * Envisioning*Higher*Education*
Secondly, there is the use of language, which is by no means innocent. A striking example of this
perverse language is to refer to the razor wire fences of the Melilla border as “concertinas.”
Hardly anyone knew what these “concertinas” were all about; if you look up the word in the
dictionary, you will see that “concertina” is a type of accordion. Speaking of concertinas, making
use of this unknown word, is a way of concealing and disguising words that represent social
problems such as walls or razor fences.
A third aspect refers to half-formulated statements that only contemplate part of the problem
under consideration. This is the case with currently-used expressions such as “unemployment is
going down and there is more staff hiring.” But what type of hiring?
It is our duty to reveal the deceptions in society and the prevailing discourse from an in-depth
spiritual perspective, while at the same time discovering real trends in life which enable us to
commit ourselves to inviting others to do the same. The Church has many platforms available to
make this possible. Her communities (parish, lay, and religious) are privileged places for
contemplation and common discernment. Her social and educational platforms are spaces for
commitment that offer hope; places to express mercy, construct fraternity, and express one’s
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... El primer paso consistió en realizar un análisis bibliográfico en mayo de 2022 de todas las referencias que recoge la literatura respecto al Paradigma L-K y sobre la misión de las universidades jesuitas, utilizando el metabuscador Océano, herramienta de búsqueda de recursos bibliográficos que incluye más de cien bases de datos de impacto tanto nacionales (Dialnet y CSIC, por mencionar algunas) como internacionales (ProQuest, Elsevier, Emerald, EBSCOhost y WoS, entre otras). Los términos utilizados en la búsqueda, "Ledesma-Kolvenbach Paradigm" y "Jesuit mission", arrojaron 14 resultados, que ordenados cronológicamente resultaron ser: Agúndez (2008b) con la propuesta de las cuatro dimensiones del paradigma; 5 artículos de la Revista de Fomento Social que llevan como eje las dimensiones (Hortal, 2008;Margenat, 2008;Florensa, 2008;Etxeberria, 2008;Miralles, 2008); López Viguria (2015Viguria ( , 2017 hablando de la misión de las escuelas de negocios jesuitas; López Viguria y Santomá (2016) señalando el nuevo perfil de egreso de una escuela de negocios; Villa y Lemke (2016) con una panorámica del Paradigma L-K aparece dos veces; Aguado et al. (2016) con una propuesta de un nuevo modelo de empresa a la luz del paradigma; Fernández et al. (2017), que publican una conversación con Juan José Etxeberria, SJ; y Sanz Giménez-Rico (2017) relatando las claves ignacianas en docencia, investigación y gestión. ...
La Compañía de Jesús ha intentado en los últimos años establecer algunas directrices para ayudar a sus instituciones educativas a enfocar sus acciones por y para la misión. El “Paradigma Ledesma-Kolvenbach” se considera una buena base para hacerlo. Presenta cuatro dimensiones interdependientes (utilidad, justicia, humanismo y fe), que reflejan una visión integral y holística de la finalidad de una universidad. Sin embargo, es necesario hacer operativas estas dimensiones. Esta investigación desarrolla un modelo que ayuda a las universidades jesuitas a evaluar su nivel de despliegue de las dimensiones en el ámbito de la docencia.
... Given the background of postconciliar renewal within the Society of Jesus, the sporadic manner, as well as the lack of differentiation and specificity, with which Spanish Jesuits continue to face the challenge of a new pedagogical orientation in the twenty-first century is striking (Fernández Nogueira, Igelmo Zaldívar and Pereda Herrero, 2017). At the same time, Jesuit education discourse contains a persistent pretext of Ignatian pedagogy that demands constant adaptation of Jesuit spirituality's traditional bases to not only theoretical changes, but also to new practical realities that arise in the Society's educational institutions (Defeo 2009, pp. ...
Full-text available
This paper analyzes Jesuit pedagogy in Spain after the Second Vatican Council, encompassing recent trends and shifts by first delving into the main elements involved in the postconciliar crisis and renewal of the Society of Jesus in Spain, including the various critiques that this change received (part II). Second, this paper sheds light on the current Jesuit Ledesma-Kolvenbach University Paradigm, including its practical application and evaluation at the University of Deusto in Bilbao (part III). Third, this paper takes a brief look at the current reconsideration of active Jesuit pedagogy in Spain (and in Catalonia in particular), bearing in mind the contextualized convergences of educational philosophy (part IV). The concluding remarks address basic results from the analysis of these three elements.
Full-text available
En este primer artículo, que constituye una síntesis de todo el número, se describe brevemente el modelo universitario bautizado por el autor como “paradigma Ledesma – Kolvenbach”. En la ponencia correspondiente, se trataba de abrir el panorama y de marcar el itinerario de lo que luego serían las jornadas. El i+m del título hace referencia a “identidad y misión”. Por su parte, Ledesma fue un ilustre teólogo y pedagogo responsable en no pequeña parte de la Ratio Studiorum (ideario educativo jesuita que data del s. XVI): él es quien acuña la estructura cuatridimensional del modelo. En cuanto a Kolvenbach, el superior general dimisionario de la Compañía de Jesús, es el que ha dado al modelo carta de naturaleza en sus últimos discursos universitarios, habiendo acuñado la terminología latina del paradigma. Se describen las características y principales implicaciones de las cuatro dimensiones del Modelo –las cuatro finalidades de la universidad jesuita– a saber: dimensión práctica (utilitas); dimensión social (iustitia); dimensión humanista (humanitas) y dimensión religiosa (fides). La mayor parte del estudio está consagrado al “para qué” de este modelo. En una breve segunda parte se apuntan algunas sugerencias acerca de la aplicación del modelo, es decir, los “cómo”.
This book is the summation of many decades of work by Peter L. Berger, an internationally renowned sociologist of religion. Secularization theory-which saw modernity as leading to a decline of religion-has been empirically falsified. It should be replaced by a nuanced theory of pluralism. In this new book, Berger outlines the possible foundations for such a theory, addressing a wide range of issues spanning individual faith, interreligious societies, and the political order. He proposes a conversation around a new paradigm for religion and pluralism in an age of multiple modernities. The book also includes responses from three eminent scholars of religion:Nancy Ammerman, Detlef Pollack, and Fenggang Yang.
Claves de espiritualidad cristiana para tiempos de sufrimiento. Conference at the Bilbao Loyola Centre
  • D Mollá
Mollá, D. (2014, 26 January). Claves de espiritualidad cristiana para tiempos de sufrimiento. Conference at the Bilbao Loyola Centre. Retrieved from O'Malley, J. (1993). The first Jesuits. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
La Compañía de Jesús después del Concilio Vaticano II
  • U Valero
Valero, U. (2007). La Compañía de Jesús después del Concilio Vaticano II. In J. I. Tellechea Idígoras, et al., Jesuitas: una misión, un proyecto (pp. 107-130). Bilbao, Spain: Universidad de Deusto.
Apostolic Constitution of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II on Catholic Universities (Ex Corde Ecclesiae
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John Paul II. (1990). Apostolic Constitution of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II on Catholic Universities (Ex Corde Ecclesiae). Retrieved from
Discursos universitarios
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Kolvenbach, P. H. (2008). Discursos universitarios. Madrid, Spain: UNIJES -Provincia de España de la Compañía de Jesús.
Claves de espiritualidad cristiana para tiempos de sufrimiento
  • D Mollá
Mollá, D. (2014, 26 January). Claves de espiritualidad cristiana para tiempos de sufrimiento. Conference at the Bilbao Loyola Centre. Retrieved from O'Malley, J. (1993). The first Jesuits. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Sáez de Santamaría. (1978). Historia de la Universidad de Deusto. Bilbao, Spain: La gran enciclopedia vasca.
General Congregation 36: Rowing into the deep. Documents of General Congregation 36 of the Society of Jesus
  • Jesus Society
Society of Jesus. (1967a). General Congregation 31, Decree 28: "The Apostolate of Education." Retrieved from Society of Jesus. (1967b). General Congregation31, Decree 29: "Scholary work and research." Retrieved from Society of Jesus. (1975). General Congregation 32, Decree 4: "Our Mission Today: The service of faith and the promotion of justice". Retrieved from Society of Jesus. (2008). General Congregation 35: Decree 3: "Challenges to our Mission Today Sent to the Frontiers." Retrieved from Society of Jesus. (2017). General Congregation 36: Rowing into the deep. Documents of General Congregation 36 of the Society of Jesus. Retrieved from