Ramon Sugranyes de Franch reflects on the history of Pax Romana from 1946 to 1961. Ramon Sugranyes de Franch served as ICMICA Secretary General from 1946-1958 and then President of ICMICA from 1958 to 1965.
The article is is from Pax Romana 1921-1961 by Roger Pochon and Ramon Sugranyes de Franch. This book explores the first 40 years of our movement.
The Establishment of Pax Romana
My first contact with Pax Romana, on the international level, dates from the war-years: as a young lecturer in Spanish at the University of Fribourg, 1 was able to take part in the meetings of 1944 and 1945, held in Fribourg and Montbarty. However, my real collaboration with Pax Romana only started in November 1946. The work then consisted of drawing up the statutes for the new branch of «intellectuals» the’ creation of which had. been decided upon at the Jubilee Congress in September, and my friend Hubert Aepli, Chancellor of the University of Fribourg, who presided over the provisional Commission of the future IMCI, had asked me to participate in it with a young Fribourg lawyer, M. Jean Castella. A short time afterwards the provisional Commission held a session in Fribourg and nominated me as secretary. Since that time, if I may say so, I have worked continually with Pax Romana through its International Movement of Catholic Intellectuals. It is now fifteen years since that time and it is probably for this reason that 1 have been asked to go on with the chronicle, started so well by the «patriarch» Roger Pochon.
Now the first page of the «New Testament» in Pax Romana was in Rome on Low Sunday, in 1947. Two assemblies, one for students and one for intellectuals, met and approved the statutes of their two respective movements the students in Anzio and the graduates in Rome. They then united on 12th April, at the palace of the Apostolic Chancellery, to approve the common statutes which joined the two movements to the unique spirit of Pax Romana this spirit which Etienne Gilson defined in the evening of the same day in an unforgettable conference: Christianity and the intellectual. Within the space of a few hours the Secretary for State of His Holiness Pope Pius XII approved the new statutes and nominated Mgr. François Charrière, bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, general ecclesiastical adviser to Pax Romana. On this same occasion Cardinal Giuseppe Pizzardo was nominated Cardinal Protector.
This was, as Rudi Salat said, the solemn inauguration of Pax Romana.
Since then the two movements have gone on with their separate work, according to their individual mission, but united by the same ideal. The reorganization which had just taken place in Pax Romana” was more than the addition of a new structure for intellectuals to those that already existed: it was a deeper transformation, which on one hand rejuvenated the student group and on the other realized a need which had been felt for a long time, to consolidate all efforts towards a really intellectual apostolate among laymen. Thus it is that Pax Romana divided into two, remaining at the same time, faithful to its vocation of Christianising the university milieu: not only the milieu in the university, but also the milieu of all those have intellectual work to do – who have intellectual problems to solve, intellectual in the true sense of the word, or who practice a profession which consists of the use of the intellect and which requires a long intellectual development in the university.
Everyone knows how linked I am ICMICA 1 should like my chronicle to be that of Pax Romana as a whole. If, in spite of this desire, certain events in the life of ICMICA are reported in a more vivid and more personal way than those of IMCS, I should like to apologize in advance.
The first President of IMCS was Mr. Josef Gonzales Torres from Mexico, proof of the progressive extension of the movement in Latin America. In 1947, the Interfederal Assembly met at Spa in Belgium after a few enjoyable missionary days in Louvain. In 1949, it met in Mexico. The theme of this assembly showed that Pax Romana had a deep insight into the apostolic needs and problems of the Latin American continent because it dealt with the social responsibilities of the student. At the back of the conference hall, a large poster proclaimed – not without a hint of wholesome demagogy -: «Students, do not talk of Heaven to the workers when their stomachs are empty!»
An important innovation must be mentioned on the occasion of the Interfederal Assembly in Mexico: on the resignation of Father Joseph Schneuwly, a layman was nominated, for the first time to direct the General Secretariat of the student movement; it was Mr. Bernard de Hoog from the Netherlands who was to remain in office for three years, according to the new statutes. During this same time Rudi Salat left the General Secretariat to go and serve his country in a post of high responsibility: at the time when Chancellor Adenauer was reorganizing the German diplomatic service, there was no-one better than he, with twenty years’ experience in Pax Romana, to deal with cultural affairs, He stayed there for three years and then was sent as adviser of the German Embassy to the Vatican and then to UNESCO as the head of the Department for Cultural Affairs. Besides Bernard de Hoog, the General Secretary IMCS had other very efficient collaborators: Bernard Ducret stayed at his post and with him Rosemary Goldie from Australia, and Mieczislaw de Habicht from Poland who succeeded Edward Kirchner in the department of aid to student victims of the war and the persecutions which followed in countries under communist domination.
In September 1947, the IMCS, through the influence of Rudi Salat, had initiated another important project: that of holding an international meeting in Germany, in a Germany who was hardly raising her head above the material and moral ruins of Nazism and the war. The meeting was held in the Jesuit Retreat House at Rothmanshohe in Bavaria, in spite of all imaginable difficulties, even that of the subsistence of the delegates which had to be ensured by the American aid service. It showed how Pax Romana encouraged spiritual and cultural exchanges between Catholics of different countries and it also marked a new success in the spirit of reconciliation embodied in Pax Romana.
On the side of the Movement for Intellectuals, under the expert presidency of Roger Millot and having as Vice-President Vittorino Veronese (Italy) and Father Edward V. Stanford, O. S. A. (United States), these two years were marked by the Plenary Assembly of 1948 at St. Edmund’s College (Ware, England), at which the subject for study was the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man, that the United States were then compiling and the Plenary Assembly at Luxemburg in 1948 which had as a theme Christian Universality. Immediately after this assembly, the General Secretary of ICMICA wished to make the universal significance of the new movement penetrate more deeply into individual federations and for this purpose he undertook a three month tour of South America.
The importance that Pax Romana had assumed in the international world, was, in a certain sense, sanctioned and confirmed by the United Nations: we received «consultative status» in 1948 in the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and a few months later, UNESCO, which had just begun its work, gave us the benefit of «consultative arrangements» as a non-governmental organization. We did not however neglect our responsibilities in Catholic international life. In the same year Pax Romana assumed the presidency of the «Conference of Presidents» of international Catholic organizations and organized the meeting at Fribourg. With Roger Millot as President, this session was a truly decisive one for the conference and gave it a new impetus. A short time afterwards it was «institutionalized» under new forms and took the name of Conference of I. C. O.
The Congress of the Holy Year 1950
1950 was for all Christianity the Holy Year. Pax Romana also wanted to celebrate, in a suitable way, the Jubilee of the Redemption. It was first at Amsterdam with the XXI World Congress, that the fidelity of the Catholic university graduates and undergraduates to their own mission within the divine plan of salvation, was admirably manifested under title The co-operation of the intellectual in the work of the Redemption. For a week the most distinguished men of Catholic thought illustrated, under all its aspects, this mission of Pax Romana in the intellectual life, which the Holy Father, Pope Pius XII had just assigned to it, in his message so full of teaching and encouragement: «Yes,» said the Holy Father, «be present in the thick of the combat of the mind!» And again, «among the great number of our brethren, the Catholic students and intellectuals of the whole world… We remember the pressing urgency of these two duties: the realization of contemporary thought and service to the Church». Afterwards, during the pilgrimage to Rome, five thousand graduates and undergraduates made a great manifestation of their faith.
That year, the two movements had their own Assemblies immediately before the Amsterdam Congress: that of ICMICA in Appeldoorn; that of IMCS in the castle of Bouvignes near Breda, under the presidency of Mr. Kees Pompe (Netherlands). But in remembering the Congress of Amsterdam, we also remember that it was the last time we heard in’ public the warm voice and ardent words of Fr. Joseph Gremaud. It was he who first thought of the Congress and it was he who opened it. It was with great effort that he undertook the journey to give his speech, and afterwards this beloved priest had to retire once and for all from the active life of Pax Romana, to which he had been devoted for twenty-five years. He retired to his native town of Bulle and God allowed him live long enough to receive, two years later, a Doctorate honoris causa, conferred by the University of Montreal. Monseigneur Emilio Guano, from Rome then succeeded him as the nominated Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Student Movement.
The following year, 1951, was that of the thirtieth anniversary of Pax Romana. It was celebrated at Rheims, in the old abbey of St. Remi, by concurrent Assemblies of the two movements – that of IMCS presided over by Dr. Claude MacDonald (Canada), had to ratify the end of the term of office of Bernard de Hoog, as the General Secretary and his replacement by Bernard Ducret (Switzerland). During these Assemblies at Rheims, Pax Romana came to know, very well, His Excellency Monseigneur Roncalli the Apostolic Nuncio in Paris and soon Cardinal Patriarch of Venice and now Supreme Pastor of the Church.
From then on the Secretariat at Fribourg continued to develop. The collaborators became more and more numerous and their nationalities became more and more varied. It is not possible to cite all their names here. I shall make an exception for Thaddée Szmitkowski, who came to work in the General Secretariat of ICMICA, when M. de Habicht became the permanent Secretary of the Conference of the “1. C. O. At the same time, Jean de la Croix Kaelin O.P. replaced Mgr. Romain Pittet, the chaplain of the ICMICA, who became the Vicar General of the diocese of Fribourg.
Before, in the spring of 1951, ICMICA organized its first study meeting, at Limburg an der Lahn, on a subject of intense topical interest, above all for Germany: the application of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man. In October of the same year, Pax Romana was able to give effective collaboration to a historic event in the history of the Church: the first World Congress of the Lay Apostolate.
From 1947 onwards the Pax Romana Journal began to appear regularly again under Bernard Ducret. This indispensable line of communication between the two movements and their members was edited in several languages, without any article being translated. Was this taking for granted the linguistic abilities of our «intellectuals», both students and graduates? We abandoned this method at the request of our two assemblies: since 1952 the Journal has appeared in two editions, French and English.
In the sphere of publications, in 1950, ICMICA undertook a considerable venture. We wanted to put the work of Pax Romana on the intellectual level into a more concrete form by creating a real instrument of work. It was the review Scrinium, Elenchus bibliographicus Universalis, which appeared every two months from 1950 to 1955. In this bulletin, we wanted to offer to the reader a choice of important books, of all orders and of all nations, likely to interest a very wide intellectual public. Unfortunately, this undertaking, in spite of a great deal of effort (and money) failed. At the end of five years, the number of subscriptions was too low to coyer the expenses and publication had to be suspended.
All these activities did not take place without a strain on the budget of Pax Romana, which was administered in common for the two movements. And Bernard Ducret, burdened with the common administration, soon saw the old enemy of Pax Romana reappearing: the eternal deficits dragged on from year to year. Fortunately a finance committee was created. Its founder President, Mr. Albert Auberger, from France, nominated in 1950, is still in office, and Pax Romana owes him an immense debt of gratitude, and extend it also to his colleagues on the committee.
A Period of Consolidation
The six years which separate the Jubilee Congress of Fribourg and that of 1952 in Canada, were those of the great advance of Pax Romana. They were followed by a period which one could term as the period of stabilization, or better still of consolidation, and of strengthening of the rapid progress which had been accomplished.
1952 took us overseas for another World Congress, the twenty-second. It took place in Canada, between the universities of Montreal and Quebec. Its theme began a series of congresses devoted to the university. The one in Canada. Another innovation of this Congress pas a special charter flight, and the discussions of the Commissions were published in two volumes, one in French and the other in English, under the same title as the Congress. During the days preceding the Congress, the Assemblies of the two movements were held in Toronto. Then a stop of a few hours at the University of Ottawa allowed our members to get to know another aspect of university life in Canada. The new innovation of this Congress was a special charter flight, which allowed Pax Romana to take a large number of participants from Europe at a much lower cost. Since then this experience has often been repeated and always with remarkable success.
I mentioned the stabilization and the deepening of the work of the two movements; IMCS, under the presidency of Rosaire Beaule (Canada), drew up a «Latin-American Plan» of the highest importance at Toronto. Following this plan the federations of the different Latin-American countries undertook a series of commitments, to be accomplished over several years; regional meetings were envisaged and for the Atlantic around Rio de la Plata, that of into three zones, that of the Atlantic around Rio de la Plata, that of the Pacific, and that of Central America and the Leeward and Windward Islands. Instead of a regional secretariat in Latin America, a permanent post of Latin-American assistant at the General Secretariat in Fribourg was anticipated. In the General Secretariat we have seen, after Nemesio Canela, Emilio Fracchia (Paraguay) , Jaime Cordova (Peru), Raul Gonzalez Simon (Cuba), and Carlos Castillo (Uruguay); and a Latin-American information bulletin, in Spanish appeared regularly in duplicated form. Lastly, ah essential part of this plan was the system of scholarships for study and travel, from which nearly every year six or eight leaders from Latin America could benefit, thanks to the subsidies of a comprehensive Foundation.
In Toronto, Roger Millot, the first president of ICMICA, saw his office coming to a close. Sir Hugh Taylor, a Dean of the Graduate School of Princeton University, member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, succeeded him. Under pressure from him the Plenary Assembly began, in Toronto, a careful study of the reasons for the existence of the movement and of the methods of work, which ought to be continued at the Assemblies of the two following years.
In the same year 1952, ICMICA held a study meeting, at Salzburg in Austria still on the theme of Human Rights, but this time on one particular point: The Rights of Parents in the School, the results of which were published in German, with a corresponding publication in Italian. The third of these study meetings took place in Venice in 1953, on a subject none the less current and interesting: The Moral and Social Aspects of the Problem of Population.
On its part IMCS was also organizing study meetings, centered especially on the problems of the university apostolate: the meeting of 1949 in Mariastein (Switzerland), on Catholic action in the university – and of 1951 in Fatima (Portugal), on the intellectual apostolate. The result of this work is an excellent series of brochures, in several languages, edited by the General Secretariat: L’Action catholique dans l’Université, La Formation professionnelle chrétienne, L’Apostolat intelléctuel, University for Christ, The University Apostolate in Action. Likewise the women students and graduates held study groups nearly every year, concerning one or other precise aspects of their particular vocation.
The effort of stabilization and the research for better formulas of work and organization has been the sole preoccupation of the two Plenary Assemblies of ICMICA, in 1953 in Bonn (Germany) and in 1954 at Lisbon (Portugal). The actual intellectual aspect of the work was the object of the seventh Assembly, of which the result was a volume published in Germany in two languages – Apostolat intellectuel – Apostolat des Geistes. ln a similar way, the following year in Portugal, it was undertaken to redeem the social and human values of the professions, to clarify the Christian exigences of professional life and to establish, in this sphere, Pax Romana’s own responsibilities and that of the groups affiliated to it. From the beginning of the intellecual movement, it was understood that the intellectual apostolate, which has as its aim, to assure through an active organ the radiating presence of Catholic thought in the world of culture, and the professional apostolate, is the work of evangelization in the professional milieu, both working side by side. That is why ICMICA has begun the regrouping of the members of each profession. Such was the origin of the international professional secretariats.
The structure and ‘the running of these organizations are the elements which are the most strongly developed in ICMICA. We began with a conception of professional secretariats, similar to the sub-secretariats of ICMICA: organs simply run, depending on the General Secretary and entrusted to one person, or to a specially competent national group, but the insufficiency of this method soon appeared. As early as ‘1950, the Assembly of Appeldoorn decreed new norms, foreseeing that the professional secretariats are truly representative organs, with an international structure, which draw together the national groups of the same profession to form its own international federation, which would incorporate itself in Pax Romana, no longer like an organ of the whole, but as a constitutive element, as a «professional» titular member. Only two professions have made use of this right and formed themselves into international autonomous federations, the Pharmacists and the Doctors; the others (Engineers, Jurists, Artists, Writers, Scientists and Secondary School Teachers) have preferred to retain the statute of the international secretariats.
A detailed account of the activities of all these secretariats and federations would take up as much space as the whole of this document. But «that is another story». Or rather, another aspect of the same story, which we cannot set down here in detail. It will suffice to mention the international Congresses of the different professions which the respective secretariats have organised, since the first International Congress of Catholic Pharmacists and also the first Congress of the Artists, which took place in Rome, coinciding with the Pax Romana pilgrimage for the Holy Year 1950, and the international Congress of Jurists at Royaumont, in 1953. To the end of this long list can be added the third Congress of the Artists and the eighth of the Doctors in Munich, as also the fifth Congress of the Pharmacists in Paris, during the summer of 1960.
It is regrettable to notice that growth and development of the professional secretariats of ICMICA – the source of the organs – was not accompanied by a corresponding growth in IMCS. On the contrary: the sub-secretariats for students of Medecine, Law, Pharmacy, and Economics, as well as the sub secretariats of the Fine Arts, of Social Action and the Missions have a strong tradition of working in favor of profession al Christian organizations and they have had important international meetings. For example, there was the International Congress of Missionary Activities in Louvain, the meeting of medical students at Pontoise and the study week of the sub-secretariat of Social Action and Formation, at Luxemburg, all in 1948, or that of the sub-secretariat of Economic and Social Sciences, at Tilburg (Netherlands) in 1950. Since then, unfortunately, these sub-secretariats have been biding their time and some have even come to a stand-still. On the other hand, the sub-secretariat of Student Engineers has, during these last years, shown itself to be remarkably active. It has succeeded, with the help of the International Secretariat of Engineers, Agriculturists and Economists. And it follows the path by which the two movements of Pax Romana can and must aid one another, for the greater benefit of each other.
Finally, the last point to notice during this period of stabilization, is Pax Romana’s presence in organized international life. It has continued to cope with the responsibilities which spring from «consultative status» in the United Nations and UNESCO. Professor Oscar Halecki, then Edward Kirchner in New York, Mr. Emmanuel Buenzod, then Miss Archinard in Geneva, have been it§ special representatives, who have devoted much of their time – and leisure – to the difficult task of representing us in these official international organizations.
We have likewise given our attention to the neutral non-governmental organizations. In particular, IMCS has co-operated with World University Service, to which Pax Romana has always been especially linked, as a «sponsoring organization», represented at its Assembly by elected members and on its executive Committee by Bernard Ducret – who consequently became General Secretary.
Among the other Catholic international organizations and in the organization which unites them, Pax Romana has never refused the work which has been assigned to her, nor the responsible posts that have been entrusted to her. She has especially tried to encourage international «vocations» and she has never neglected the formation of these of her members who desire to work on the international level.
Asia and Africa
The Interfederal Assembly of IMCS in 1953, was held in Krabbelsholm (Denmark) under the presidency of a Dane, Kaspar Kallen. Among the decisions taken, the most important was that to organise a seminar at the end of same year for all Asian students in Madras. It was the beginning of a new era in Pax Romana, that of world-wide extension. This «new-line» was noticed even more strongly at the Interfederal Assembly of 1954, held at Flüeli in Switzerland. There, Mr. Joseph Kuriacose, _n Indian student, who had finished his doctorate in chemistry at Louvain, was elected President of IMCS. Thus Pax Romana students had been pioneers; in 1949, an international Catholic organization had’ for the first time a President who came from Latin America: five years later it was an Asian.
The Asian seminar in Madras, took place in December of the same year and it was a great succes. The All lndia Catholic University Federation played the role of champion of the ideal of Pax Romana in Asia. And she has always remained faithful to both movements, the students and the graduates after the foundation of the Newman Association. The European delegates brought back from Asia this same impression of the depth of the faith, of solidarity in apostolic work, and cultural richness, which we found again in 1960 at the meeting in Manila. Since 1954, Asia has played an important role in the programmes of Pax Romana: continuous affiliation of Catholic student organizations from most of the non-communist countries of Asia; regional seminars in Singapore and in Hong-Kong; growing participation of Asians in the running of the two movements: the appointments of Mr. Hubert Monteiro (India), Vice -President of ICMICA, Mr. Joseph Oei (Indonesia), Vice-President of IMCS; Philip Lo Fook Cheng from Singapore, Richard Kaptin Adisoermarta (Indonesia), then Francis Selvadorey (India) and Alfonso Aguirre (Philippine) as members of the General Secretariat.
Again in 1954, the two Movements organized jointly a study seminar, on The Political Responsibility of the Christian, in Luxemburg. And together they tried to prepare the XXIII World Congress, which was held in 1953 at Nottingham (England).. It was a successful Congress, to which our British friends wished to attach the label of «austerity», and it was in reality a Congress at which a lot of work was done. The subject was continuing the theme of the preceding Congress, in Canada, on The Mission of the University and its aim was to study The Problems of the Young Graduate, or, in other terms, the period From the University to Life.
The meetings which preceded the Congress (that of IMCS in Leicester, and that of ICMICA at Nottingham itself) had brought a change among the directors. It was not without regret that Sir Hugh Taylor, at the end of his term as President of ICMICA and Vittorino Veronese, at the end of second term as Vice-President, left their offices. It seemed impossible that Bernard Ducret (reelected once more for another year at Flüeli) would one day be obliged to leave the General Secretariat for ever. He had worked full time since 1954 and he was the one amongst us who knew Fr. Gremaud best, the only «survivor» of those who had collaborated with the Secretariat before the charges of 1946. Sir Hugh Taylor succeeded Professor Willem P. J. Pompe, of the University of Utrecht, the father of Kees Pompe who had been President of IMCS in 1950: as always the students, in Pax Romana, took over from their elders: to Vittorino Veronese, as Vice-President, succeeded Professor Bichara Tabbah, of Beirut; and Bernard Ducret was succeeded as General Secretary of IMCS by Thom Kerstiëns, also Dutch, who had just finished his geographical studies at Utrecht University – Thom, a tireless traveler, would have need of his geographical knowledge!
Before, two important study meetings had been held in the spring of 1953: one by ICMICA at Louvain, on The Human Problems arising from Nuclear Energy, and another, of a completely new type: at the Oecumenical Center in Bossey, about thirty delegates, half from Pax Romana, and half from the Universal Federation of Student Christian Associations, met for the first time in an interdenominational meeting, to discuss the university from their own religious points of view. .
The new team, the outcome of the elections at Nottingham, — among the principal leaders only the President of IMCS, Joe Kuriacose, the undersigned, th en General Secretary of ICMICA and his assistant Thaddée Szmitkowski remained in office – put themselves willingly to the task, helped by the chaplain attached to IMCS, resident in Fribourg, a charming man, Fr. Dominique Louis, O. P. Immediately they came face to face with grave financial difficulties. But what good can come of talking about what has always been the stumbling block of Pax Romana? Always, in spite of the growing needs of the university apostolate, we had to make a difficult choice in the possibilities of plans for future action, because of limited resources. The new crisis at the end of 1955, the most serious after the one of 1949, was overcome thanks to the support of the financial committee and thanks to the benefactors of Pax Romana and the kind thought of our Cardinal Protector! But it was necessary to sacrifice the review Scrinium, of which I have spoken, and other good plans.
In spite of that, 1956 was the year of the first big journey of the intellectual Movement alone: the pilgrimage to the Holy Land at Easter and the Assembly in Beirut — the material of which was later published in the Lebanon, under the title Culture and Cultures. The system of charter flights continued to give excellent service and all who made use of it to go to Jerusalem, and then Beirut, had a wonderful experience.
The same year IMCS organised a formation seminar at the European Headquarters of the United Nations- in Geneva – but the participants were not exclusively European! – and the interfederal Assembly in Vienna. Other important news was that Miss Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo, from Portugal, succeeded Joe Kuriacose as President of IMCS.
In proportion as Pax Romana became a true world organization, it was necessary to increase initiative on the regional level. We have seen the regional Latin-American plan of IMCS in action since 1952. In the following years a European Commission and a North American Commission came into being, and at the same time we tried to organize the work of students in Asia, and later in Africa, on a regional level. The ICMICA was undergoing this same form of development and it was the Germanic-speaking federations who set it going: Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, and Denmark organized a series of meetings year after year.
1957 was a year of much traveling for the student movement: in August, an Interfederal Assembly at San Salvador in Central America; in .December the first Pan-African seminar in Ghana, a few months after this country had gained its independence. Both public meetings were important but the African
seminar is as fundamental an occasion in Pax Romana’s history as the Asian Seminar in Madras in 1954. We can be sure of this fact when reading the printed report of the meeting entitled «Africa… Christian Continent?» — published by the General Secretariat. The fruits of this seminar were immediately visible – everything moves so quickly in the Africa of to-day. Groups of Catholic students were established in all African universities all of whom were eager in their demand to be affiliated to Pax Romana; some of their most promising leaders have been able to take terms of office at the General Secretariat, thanks to the UNESCO traveling scholarships and to Pax Romana’s Entr’aide system. Among others, Nicholas Muraguri, from Kenya; Robert Odinkemelu, from Nigeria; Edward Ulzen, from Ghana; Robert Ekinu, from Uganda; Edwin Khabele, from Basutoland, and all of them, like most of their fellows-students, have been nominated to posts of great responsibility in their respective countries, on completion of their university careers.
1957 saw the tenth anniversary of the movement for intellectuals, which was celebrated in Rome, the place of its foundation. The Holy Father, Pope Pius XII again wished to give Pax Romana the benfit of his enlightened teaching and gave an address on the duties of Catholics in the formation of the international community. The whole of the Assembly was again the object of an excellent volume Pensée chrétienne et la communauté. mondiale, published in the series «Recherches et Débats» of the Catholic Centre of French Intellectuals.
For all Christendom, the year 1957 was also that of the World Congress of the Lay-Apostolate in which Pax Romana collaborated as much as it did in the first in 1951.
The year ended with another departure from the General Secretariat such is life! – that of Thaddée Szmitkowski, Assistant Secretary to IMCI, a great specialist in Pax Romana on international questions, or rather on our collaboration with official international organization. He left us to take up the post of Director of the Information Centre of Catholic International Organizations attached to the United Nations. Once again our Secretariat proved to be a «nursery» for international experts!
The Present Situation
The World Congress every three years has, introduced a true triennal rhythm into Pax Romana’s life. This is the more evident since the two last ones coincided with great changes in the directing personnel. We had a new team at work in Nottingham. Another took over after the World Congress in Vienna, the XXIVth, in 1958 – or to be more exact after Assemblies which, as usual, preceded it.
But we must first of all recall some features of the Congress itself which was as grandiose in its significance, its framework, its number of participants, the value of its lecturers, and the feelings which it aroused, as the World Congress of Amsterdam in 1950. The subject was The Meaning of liberty and the University of to-day’ following the well-established tradition to consecrate the congresses to problems connected which the University. !ts work, too, was the object of a publication under the same title as the Congress in the series «Essais et Documents» of the Research Centre for Catholic teaching in France. The Vienna Congress was honored by the presence of Cardinal Koenig, Archbishop of Viënna, and Cardinal Tisserant, the Papal Nuncio; several ministers of the Austrian Federal Government; numerous ambassadors; the General Director of UNESCO, Dr. Luther Evans; etc. The participants were formally received by the Federal Chancellor at Schoenbrunn and the Mayor of Vienna, in the sumptuous décor of the great city of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries…
The Interfederal Assembly of IMCS took place at Eichstatt in Bavaria, and a new President was elected, Bryan Wood from England, and a new General Secretary, Jaime Côrdova from Peru, who had already been working for the secretariat for two years. The Plenary Assembly of ICMICA took place in Vienna, on the eve of the opening of the 80ngress. After having been General Secretary for twelve years of ICMICA, I became President as successor to Professor Pompe, and Thom Kerstiëns, who had been General Secretary until then, assumed the responsibility of the ICMICA Secretariat.
The «Journal» also took on a new look after the Vienna Congress. Under the editorship of Miss Bridaine O’Meara at first and then of Mrs. Maire Pompe, it changed its format and tended towards a more formal review of ideas rather than a bulletin of information which it had been during the preceding period.
1959 saw ICMICA at Louvain again for the Plenary Assembly of «austerity» and good work was done on the theme «Life of Faith in a Technico-Scientific World». The proof of the work done is the book which was published, «Faith and Technical Mentality» (Collection «Credo» Maison Plon in Paris). Each participant can also testify that the «austerity» in Belgium did not limit the cordial friendship and excellent receptions offered.
Towards the end of the year there was the wonderful venture of the going to South-East Asia and the meetings that took place in the Philippina capital –a venture which was such a great success, D. G. In the first place, the students wanted to give their Asian friends the chance of having the InterfederaI Assembly in their own region of the world. Then, these same students held a seminar on «The Social Responsibility of the University to-day», a subject whose present interest is striking when one considers the existing situation in Asia. The third meeting was that of the Asian students, when they discussed, between themselves, the problems of their various groups which are such a small minority in the big universities, and their apostolic ‘task, in the midst of their’ non-Christian fellow-students.
There was also the first international meeting of the Catholic graduates of Asia and their meeting (the fourth at Manila) was devoted entirely to the intellectual apostolate, the urgent need for it, its conditions and its immediate possibilities in Asian countries. The fifth meeting was that of University Chaplains and the sixth, a Congress of Catholic Doctors.
To all this was added (the seventh meeting), a completely new type of meeting organized by Pax Romana, under the auspices of UNESCO, on «The Present Impact of the Great Religions on the Lives of Men in Orient and Occident». The religions represented were Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Judaism, Islam and the three Christian faiths, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox. In order to emphasize the universality of the Church a Philippino Jesuit and a Japanese layman spoke for Catholicism. The President of the meeting, M. Olivier Lacombe, Professor at the Sorbonne, specified the aims with great precision these «expert» were not mere scholars and, even less, professors of «comparative religion»; they were the convinced believers of their respective religions and what had brought them together, on Pax Romana’s invitation, was the desire to study the points of view of these religions on the great problems of the world to-day, such as industrialization, the situation of the family in the overturned traditional structures, contemplative life in the technological world, etc. in short aIl problems which need to be solved by religious and moral inspiration. ‘
After Manila, the attention of the two movements turned again towards Africa, which was so much in the limelight of world affairs in-1960. The IMCS, presided over by Mr. Peter Vygantas (a Lithuanian from the United States) since the Manila meeting, came together at the Interfederal Assembly in Lisbon where it was henceforth decided to hold an Assembly every two years) and made a start on the preparation for a new Pan-African Seminar in Leopoldville at the Catholic University of Lovanium. During this time the ICMICA was also preparing an assembly for Africa, at the Benedictine monastery of Tioumliline in Morocco. Unfortunately this meeting never took place. The attitude of a minister of the Moroccan Government led us to understand that an international Christian reunion in an Islamic country could be interpreted as a provocation, and could be exploited as a pretext against the Church in general and the monastery of Tioumliline in particular. To void greater trouble we decided to cancel it ourselves.
Fortunately this was not the case for the Pan-African Seminar in Leopoldville. We hesitated a moment because of the political situation in the Congo, but then decided to hold it. This difficult decision was more than recompensed by the presence of a large number of students from the different African countries and by the good work that was done there.
The Pan-African Seminar in Leopoldville brings us to this Jubilee Year of our fortieth anniversary. A rapid glance over what has been realized in these first six months and over our plans for the future is sufficient to show Pax Romana’s present problematical situation: in the first place, the truly universal extension of our preoccupations – the General Secretary of IMCS has just completed a four-month tour of Latin America, prelude to the XXVth World Congress which will be held, God willing, at Montevideo (Uruguay) in 1962; the apostolic anxiety of our two movements, both of them attempting to define the meaning and methods of their work on the religious, intellectual and practical level more exactly, the desire to work for the union of Christians in a spirit of perfect submission and fidelity to the Church (enquiries among our members on the contacts between Catholics and non-Catholics; the meeting with our Protestant colleagues in Louvain, on the theme Science and Technology in God’s Design): Pax Romana’s presence in the international world (United Nations, UNESCO, etc.); service to the Church in the Conference of International Catholic Organisations, whose presidency we assumed again in 1961; keen interest in the Oecumenical Council, which is a great event in the history of the Church, etc., etc. Neither must I forget to mention the contacts and growing number of exchanges that we have been able to establish with Catholics, intellectuals and students, in Poland since 1957.
It is time to close this chronicle — too long and at the same time too short – in my opinion! I am quite aware of the fact that it is fragmentary and anecdotical. It seems, in particular; very superficial to me. The history of Pax Romana could have been written in a completely different way and have retraced the sum-total of our hopes, the principles which guided us, the problems which we have had to’ face. It would have then been the history of an ideal and a series of successive attempts to realize this ideal. But we had been assigned to a different task: that of reporting facts, that of setting down a chronicle of memories. But then, how many events, how many names of dear devoted friends we have had to leave out! For those who played an active part in this history – even though they may not have been named — these few preceding pages will bring to life again many faces of friends, many moments of exaltation symbolizing the friendship that exists in Pax Romana. For those who have not common memories as yet, we hope that they will read between the lines and find all the spiritual solicitude of a vast movement, whose one aim is to make Christ reign in the intellectual and university life.
[…] For only Sugranyes’ article, read here. […]