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Our Catholic, Marianist Commitment

Statement on Catholic and Marianist Identity as a Call to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 


Grounded firmly in and driven by our Catholic, Marianist mission and identity, the University of Dayton affirms that diversity, equity, and inclusion are inextricably linked with our call to  excellence.[i] We further affirm that racism and all forms of systemic oppression are in opposition to God’s will, which requires justice and love for all people as uncompromising principles.[ii] As a result, we commit ourselves in our teaching, research, engagement, and all of our institutional work to advancing inclusive excellence and honoring the dignity of each person, no matter their identity. We resolve to work toward understanding, disrupting, and dismantling policies, practices, and traditions that contribute to or cause harm on and beyond the campus community.[iii]

Promoting a just social order is a duty of Catholic faith, an aspect of the vocation of all humanity to communion with God.[iv] Consequently, our duty as a Catholic and Marianist university is to be a community that promotes human dignity and builds up the beauty of human diversity.[v] We do this in service to the common good and to the Church.

The University of Dayton is committed to embracing diversity in its many expressions and forms as a manifestation of God’s creation.[vi] God creates persons in community, intending that our diverse gifts contribute to each other’s flourishing and to creation’s fulfillment in communion with God.[vii] Injustice, insults to human dignity, and a refusal to work toward our common good are offenses against God.[viii]  The legacies of those injustices must be exposed and dismantled. In the midst of sin, God always calls humanity to new life. Catholic practices of examination of conscience, confession of sin, atonement, and reformation of life inform our approach. We at the University of Dayton commit ourselves to this work, hoping in God’s mercy.

We welcome all people to engage in the work of the university to build knowledge and wisdom for the common good. That work requires that we cultivate diversity: the presence, recognition and engagement of people from a wide range of human experiences, beliefs, and identities.[ix] We are committed to practicing inclusion:  a process and practice of active, intentional and sustained engagement of each person in a community that values and respects their perspectives.[x] We work toward equity: modifying structures and practices that have intentionally or unintentionally advantaged or disadvantaged groups of people and granted unjust privilege to some over others, denying opportunities and contributing to harm on the health and wellbeing of many.[xi] Together, these practices position us to achieve and sustain inclusive excellence. Together, these practices position us to embody the Catholic and Marianist identity of the University of Dayton more fully.[xii]




[i] UD’s approach to inclusive excellence:

[ii] As Pope Benedict XVI teaches, “charity demands justice: recognition and respect for the legitimate rights of individuals and peoples. It strives to build the earthly city according to law and justice. On the other hand, charity transcends justice and completes it in the logic of giving and forgiving,” Caritas in Veritate, 6. Both the Vatican and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have a long history of statements promoting the rights of vulnerable groups of people. “Open Wide our Hearts: A Pastoral Letter Against Racism,” is the most recent statement of the USCCB against racism in both personal and systemic forms. Since 1958, the USCCB has addressed racial discrimination through pastoral letters, bishops’ letters and statements, and press releases which can be found here. Such teaching about love and justice in the social order is rooted in Catholic teaching about the human dignity of every person, who is by nature social. “Society as a whole must respect, defend and promote the dignity of every human person, at every moment and in every condition of that person's life,” Evangelium Vitae, 81. This dignity cannot be lost or destroyed: “The root reason for human dignity lies in the human person's call to communion with God,” Gaudium et Spes, 19. Find more information by reviewing a  sampling of major documents of Catholic Social Teaching.

[iii] “The dignity of the human person requires the pursuit of the common good. Everyone should be concerned to create and support institutions that improve the conditions of human life,” Catechism, 1926. Of particular concern are “structures of sin,” which “are rooted in personal sin, and thus always linked to the concrete acts of individuals who introduce these structures, consolidate them and make them difficult to remove. And thus they grow stronger, spread, and become the source of other sins, and so influence people's behavior,” Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 36.  “ [sin] is every sin against the dignity and honor of one's neighbor. Also social [sin] is every sin against the common good and its exigencies in relation to the whole broad spectrum of the rights and duties of citizens. The term social can be applied to sins of commission or omission...”Reconciliatio et paenitentia, 16. 

Defense of human dignity and the common good requires “defending and promoting fundamental and inalienable human rights,” Compendium, 388. In writing about the attainment of universal peace through “observance of the divinely established order,” Pope John XXIII (citing Pope Pius XII) emphasized the person’s rights and duties, “which together flow as a direct consequence from his nature. These rights and duties are universal and inviolable, and therefore altogether inalienable,” Pacem in Terris, 9.

The USCCB acknowledged the structural nature of racism as far back as 1979’s “Brothers and Sisters to Us,” which says, “Racism is not merely one sin among many; it is a radical evil that divides the human family and denies the new creation of a redeemed world. To struggle against it demands an equally radical transformation, in our own minds and hearts as well as in the structure of our society.” The bishops reaffirmed this in 2018: “The roots of racism have extended deeply into the soil of our society.

Racism can only end if we contend with the policies and institutional barriers that perpetuate and preserve the inequality—economic and social—that we still see all around us. With renewed vigor, we call on the members of the Body of Christ to join others in advocating and promoting policies at all levels that will combat racism and its effects in our civic and social institutions,” “Open Wide our Hearts,” 28.

From a specifically Marianist context The Daughters of Mary of the Province of the US (Marianist Sisters) statement on anti-racism is an example of a Marianist commitment to form communities that treasure the richness of cultural diversity and take action against all forms of racism and systemic oppression to reflect the expansive love of God.

[iv] In “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility”  the Catholic Bishops of the United States write, “ Catholics we are called to participate in public life in a manner consistent with the mission of our Lord, a mission that he has called us to share,” Forming Consciences, 1. A similar sentiment is present in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which states, “As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life,” 1915. Promoting justice in the temporal order, as Catholic teaching presents it, serves the ultimate destiny of creation in communion with God. “To the extent that [earthly progress] can contribute to the better ordering of human society, it is of vital concern to the kingdom of God,” Gaudium et Spes, 39. Human’s work “to improve the world, in justice and peace… is of itself significant and effective for the definitive establishment of the Kingdom, although this remains a free gift of God, completely transcendent…. Being conformed to Christ and contemplating his face instil in Christians an irrepressible longing for a foretaste in this world, in the context of human relationships, of what will be a reality in the definitive world to come,” Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 58.

[vi] The Compendium notes that “The book of Genesis presents with admiration the diversity of peoples understanding it as a result of God’s creative activity (cf. Genesis 10:1-32), Compendium, 429. It also cites Pope John Paul II’s call for “respect for the diversity of cultures which, within the universal harmony of peoples, are life's interpretive keys,” Compendium, 366.

[vii] Catholic teaching holds that the human person is inherently social and that human flourishing, both temporal and eternal, involves communion among diverse persons. “To be human means to be called to interpersonal communion, because the image and the likeness of the Trinitarian God are the basis of the whole of ‘human ethos,’ which reaches its apex in the commandment of love,” Mulieris Dignitatem, 7.

This communion characterizes both our temporal order and our eternal destiny. “Every person is created by God, loved and saved in Jesus Christ, and fulfills himself by creating a network of multiple relationships of love, justice and solidarity with other persons while he goes about his various activities in the world,” Compendium, 5. Integral salvation will be completed when we shall be called, together with all creation (cf. Rom 8), to share in Christ's resurrection and in the eternal communion of life with the Father in the joy of the Holy Spirit,” Compendium, 38.

[viii] According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Sin is an offense against God. . . . the love of oneself even to contempt of God . . diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation,”  Catechism, 1850. While sin is always a personal act, “we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them” including “by not disclosing or hindering them when we have an obligation to do so,”  Catechism, 1868). Pope John Paul II condemned “the very personal sins of those who cause or support evil or who exploit it; of those who are in a position to avoid, eliminate or at least limit certain social evils but who fail to do so out of laziness, fear or the conspiracy of silence, through secret complicity or indifference; of those who take refuge in the supposed impossibility of changing the world, and also of those who sidestep the effort and sacrifice required, producing specious reasons of a higher order,” Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 16. John Paul II identified the necessary corrective to these structures in the virtue of solidarity: “it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all,” Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 38. Pope Francis has repeatedly identified indifference as a moral crisis of our time. For a Catholic institution to fail, knowingly, to address structures of sin would be a sin of omission and a way of cooperating in an evil that can and should be challenged.

[ix] “The future is not monochrome; if we are courageous, we can contemplate it in all the variety and diversity of what each individual person has to offer. How much our human family needs to learn to live together in harmony and peace, without all of us having to be the same,”Fratelli Tutti, 100. The Marianist family has committed to actions that promote diversity, equity and inclusion through the work of the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative. Their racial issues team fosters dialogue, education, and advocacy work. 

[x] “In the dynamics of history, and in the diversity of ethnic groups, societies and cultures, we see the seeds of a vocation to form a community composed of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another,” Fratelli Tutti, 96.

[xi] “For this reason the Church down through the centuries and in the light of the Gospel has worked out the principles of justice and equity demanded by right reason both for individual and social life and for international life, and she has proclaimed them especially in recent times,” Gaudium et Spes, 63.  

[xii] For recent articulations of the breadth and depth of UD’s Catholic and Marianist identity, reference Common Themes in the Mission and ID at UD and Commitment to Community.  Historical documents may be found on the University eCommons.