Roger Pochon, one of the founding members of Pax Romana (and later a Swiss judge) reflecting on the first 40 years of the Pax Romana movement in a 1961 book: Roger Pochon and Ramon Sugranyes de Franch, Pax Romana Down the Years (1921-1961) (Fribourg: Bersier, 1961).
40 YEARS ALREADY!
Doubtless in Pax Romana I appear as a somewhat patriarchal figure, Would I otherwise have been asked to bring to mind a past linked with so many admirable, unforgettable personalities now gone?
I have indeed known Pax Romana from its cradle, for as a young collegian I had been moblized to render small service during the 1921 Congress. I certainly had no idea then that ten years later I should preside at the Congress of its tenth anniversary in Fribourg. But in the meantime, following in the steps of my former school-master, Father Gremaud, already before the Cambridge Congress I had begun to take an active part in the Secretariat where, at the beginning of 1930 the dynamic Rudi Salat came to assist me. From then on the collaboration with these two very dear friends continued until the sad summer of 1939 when my editorial work was ended by the cessation of publication of the Pax Romana Journal, due to the war. As I write these notes, it its therefore a past tinged with sadness that rises before me, and especially those twelve years during which I was so closely connected with the life of Pax Romana. A past of which. it is good to recall, for the younger members, the principal stages.
I shall do it, but simply by letting the facts speak, because they illustrate eloquently enough the constant preoccupation of Pax Romana: that of bringing closer minds and hearts without neglecting the essential: the vast domain of the university apostolate, so that its motto may be ever better carried out: Pax Christi in regno Christi.
The first international union
If the Catholics were not the first to found an international student union, it seems at least that they were the first to have had the idea.
Already in 1887 the idea had been launched by one of my compatriots, Baron Georges de Montenach, of Fribourg, then President of the Society of Swiss Students, who joined an ardent love for his little country to the greatest understanding of other countries. And it was after the General Assembly of this society in Fribourg that on 23rd August 1888, with the approval of His Holiness Leo XIII, that the .bases for the first International Union of Catholic Students were laid. The bishop of the diocese, the future Cardinal Mermillod, led the discussions of the constitutive session of the provision al committee. Georges de Montenach became President, and, like a new Peter the Hermit, went all over Europe rallying the Catholic students to his cause.
Thus 7,000 of them made a pilgrimage to Rome in 1891, to the tomb of St. Louis de Gonzague on the tricentenary of his death: 1500 attended the Assembly which expressed by acclamation the wish that, thanks to the efforts of G. de Montenach, the friendly relations between associations of young Catholics for the defence of their faith should become still closer. And some three hundred delegates discussed the statutes of the new Union. Fribourg was designated as headquarters and its promoter acclaimed President. Unfortunately, political complications linked with the Roman question, soon gave a mortal blow to this young Union. And eventually very little remained of this Congress. Divers efforts, notably in 1893 and 1900, to give life again to the Union, were fruitless.
But the idea was not discarded. It was taken up once more, not without a certain courage, just after the First World War, when the idea of grouping the Catholic intellectuals of the different countries to study international questions in the light of their doctrine, and especially those which were going
to be put to the young League of Nations, was given form on another plane, after an initiative conceived in Fribourg in 1917. In November 1920 the International Catholic Study Union, forerunner of our ICMICA, was founded in Paris. The leadership was given to the Swiss group: Mr. G. de Montenach,
one of its promoters, was asked to preside, and Fribourg was chosen as headquarters of its secretariat.
In the same way as in 1888, the Swiss Students’ Society responded in its 1920 Assembly, to the noble ideal of one its own members, its secretary, Father Tschuor, by deciding to further its contacts with Dr. Gerard Brom, General Secretary of the Netherlands Catholic Associations of Students.
Switzerland was, indeed, the country best situated to take such steps at the time when Catholics felt the need to reconstruct the bridges destroyed by the 1914-1918 cataclysm. Its races, its languages, the long chain of the Alps the course of its rivers attach this country to the world and to men of different nationalities. Around the Gothard mountain which separates and pass which joins, a great deal had to come to light and had become in the course of centuries, not without difficulties, a political reality: the idea of the spiritual community of the peoples and cultures of the West.
The founding of Pax Romana
The approval of the Holy See being obtained by the initiative of the Swiss Student Society, its President, Mr. Max Gressly, met Dr. Brom at the beginning of 1921. They decided to invite the delegates of Catholic Associations of students to meet in Fribourg in July. The enthusiasm with which Spain greeted this project urged them to constitute a Hispano-Hollando-Swiss organizing commitee. Mr. Gressly presided, and was assisted by three Vice-Presidents, Messrs. Martin Sanchez y Julia (Spain), Gerard Brom (Netherlands), and Kurt de Wattenwyl, President of the Renaissance societies (Switzerland), and by two Secretaries: Messrs. Jean Tschuor and Guillaume de Weck (Switzerland).
The call of this commitee, accompanied by a letter of approval from the Sovereign Pontiff addressed to Mr. Gressly by Cardinal Gasparri, was met with favourable responses from the associations of twenty-three .countries, and only three – Sweden, Rumania and Yugoslavia, were finally unable 1.0 be represented at Fribourg. England, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxemburg,. the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland and, from overseas, Argentina, Java and the United States, in whose delegation was the present Cardinal Munch, were actually represented on 19th July at the inauguration of the Congress in the Fribourg House of Parliament.
In his opening address the bishop of the diocese, His Lordship Mgr. Besson wisely indicated the aim: «You have before you a splendid ideal: the creation of a permanent international secretariat. Make this ideal reality and do not touch on any other questions, the discussion of which would be premature». Mr. Perrier, President of the Fribourg government, welcomed the delegates, assuring them of goodwill and aid which in fact did not cease to be shown. And Baron G. de Montenach expressed his joy at the imminent birth of this international organization for which he had worked so hard in the previous century.
By the evening of the second day the accord was already complete. After some debate which was lively, but free from bitterness, and in which three honorary members took a predominant part: Dr. Carl Sonneschein (Germany), Canon Beaupin (France) and Fr. Joseph Gremaud, delegate of Mgr. Besson, it was unanimously decided to: «found a Catholic international office for information and liaison which will adopt the words Pax Romana as an emblem and the direction of which will be ensured by the periodical reunion of the Council of delegates».
The following day was devoted to a discussion of the statutes and to the constitution of the directing organs: Council of delegates, permanent Commission, and Secretariat, Mr. Gressly was .elected President of the Council of delegates and Mr. Spataro (Italy), Vice-President. The permanent commission, of which the bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg was automatically President honorary was composed of Messrs. Gressly and K. de Wattenwyl, Miss Marcelle Despond (Switzerland), Messrs. Martin Sanchez y Julia (Spain) and Gerard Brom (Netherlands), and as General Secretary, Fr. J. Tschuor (Switzerland).
The delegates thus loyally showed that for them, Catholicism was not an empty word.
The First Years
What was more important than the formal adherence of twenty-three countries, and than the burning enthusiasm, was to ensure the longevity of Pax Romana – and this was not an easy thing.
From the first its Secretariat was called to assume many tasks, without having the necessary personnel and resources at its disposal. It had to take charge of the Mensa academica in Vienna, offering board and lodging to students at very low prices, and to distribute much financial aid. Until 1923, three wagon-loads of food were sent each year to Vienna, and aid in the form of clothes and gifts in kind were sent to needy students in Germany, Poland and Russia. But the Secretariat started with nothing in. taking on this entr’aide work – if was therefore obliged to run a lottery and to contract debts which for ten years curtailed its activities. The weight of these debts was all the heavier since the members’ contributions arrived very irregularly and, due to extremely unfavourable exchange rates, they had no more th an a symbolic character for the Secretariat.
During first year the Commission sat three times: Pax Romana days were held in Ravenna at the end of August, and in Rotterdam a short while before Easter 1922: in January 1922 appeared a first number of the Folia periodica as well as stencilled bulletins, the Acta secretariatus.
Fribourg was the site of the Second Congress, from ‘7th to 9th August 1922 where the delegates – among whom one Japanese – showed the same desire for brotherly collaboration. They decided to start a work of student hostels, for Catholics – the Auxilium Studiosorum whieh from 1923 included the Mensa academica of Vienna, and the publication of a bulletin. Three Fribourg personalities were acclaimed honorary members and the mandates of all the leaders were renewed, except that of Mr. Gressly who declined re-election. Fr. Gremaud then took over the presidency.
Some weeks later, a first Pax Romana week was held in Vienna, followed by a second in September at Oxford.
It was in Salzburg from 18th to 20th September 1922 that the third Congress took place. Finances remained the sticky point, lack of resources leading to the abandoning of work nonetheless necessary. The previous year it had been a question of the lay apostolate, of activity in favour of the missions, and of the social question, so this time the general theme of the conference was the development of Catholic thought in students’ associations.
The following year Pax Romana held its reunion in Budapest. A regrettable curtailment of its activities due to the bad state of its finances was deplored. It was decided to recontinue the publication of the bulletin. Called to a parish Fr. Tschuor resigned and was replaced by Fr. Gremaud, while Dr. Nello Palmieri took over the presidency. .
Given more status by the presence of Mgr. Seipel, Chancellor of Austria the 1925 congress at Bologna happily marked an important step forward. The statutes were totally revised, but the aim of Pax Romana remained unchanged: to carry out the complete development of the Catholic idea in student milieux, and this in all domains of university, intellectual and social life, basing its self on the best traditions of the Christian past, and trying to meet the exigencies of the present time, but it became in addition – title which had appeared premature in 1920 – a Confederation, the Confederatio studentium universi terrarum orbis catholica with its headquarters at Fribourg; this juridical formula safeguarded the autonomy of its member associations, without excluding non-national organizations. The organs of Pax Romana from then on were General Assembly of delegates, and a Directing Committee of nine members charged with carrying out its decisions, and with controlling, and specifying the work of the secretariat. Mr. Feber (Netherlands) was elected President.
The role of Pax Romana in international movements of Catholic thought was defined by Mgr. Seipel, who insisted on the obligation of the students to be «champions» of a very great and very intensive Catholic movement of pacification». His lecture, and Fr. Martindale’s written exposé encouraged the Secretariat to strengthen its relations with the different international Catholic organizations and with the Commission for intellectual co-operation of the League of Nations, which, moreover, included two of our friends, Professors Oscar de Halecki (Warsaw) and Gonzague de Reynold (Fribourg) who, at the head of the Catholic union of international studies had succeeded the Baron de Montenach who had died the very year in which Pax Romana realized his youthful dream.
The sixth Congress took place in Amsterdam in September 1926. There the stress was on the help students’ associations could give to missions, outlining the part Pax Romana should play in this field. And once again an attempt was made to ensure the financing of the bulletin.
Poland organized the 1927 Congress which was held in August under the presidency of Stanislas Orlikowski. It began in Warsaw and four days were given up to lectures and the liquidation of statutory business; then it continued in Krakow, offering the delegates a closer contact with Polish life, its past, and its artistic wealth, and it ended with a study journey across high Silesia. The pilgrimage to Czestochowa on Assumption Day, was the aphoteosis. Among the important decisions of this Congress, besides the designation of a treasurer in the hope of finding a sovereign remedy to the continuing financial anaemia of Pax Romana, it is worth mentioning the constitution of two commissions: one for female students, under a German President, charged with making closer contacts with the national organizations and the international union of feminine leagues; the other for intellectual collaboration, Fr. Rudolf (Vienna) being put in charge of the Secretariat.
And in the following year, also in August, the Cambridge, Oxford and London Congress was held, presided over by Dr. Edward Bullough. Its general theme comprised the examination, from the triple point of view, historical, philosophical and ethical, of the causes of the divorce between the spirit of the world to-day and that of Catholicism. Aid to the missions was in the forefront of the delegates preoccupations and they decided to constitute, in Fribourg, a commission to promote the study of the questions connected with it. Fr. Etienne Rossel was called on to preside. Also, an additional member for the Secretariat was requested and a new ruling on the right to vote was adopted. Once more the difficult financial situation was in the forefront.
The following year, through the drive of the commission for intellectual co-operation, meetings were held at Bordeaux, Louvain and Spain was the site of the ninth Congress in 1929. This included a study trip which took participants to San Sebastian, Vadrid, Toledo, Valencia and Barcelona. Presided over by Mr. Fernando Martin Sanchez, the Congress itself took place in Seville. A series of lectures treated the doctrinal value of Catholicism from the cultural point of view. The commission for missions was made into a secretariat, centre for information and propaganda. Run by Fr. Rossel, its headquarters remained in Fribourg and Fr. François Charrière, now bishop of the diocese and our general ecclesiastical assistant, was appointed as the bishop’s representative. Besides the creation of a commission for student travel and exchanges, such as the approval of the project to publish a Vade mecum for Catholic students going abroad, the assembly decided to give to the over-worked Fr. Gremaud a permanent administrative secretary. Its particularly fortunate choice was to exercise a beneficent influence on the destiny of Pax Romana.
Mr. Rudi Salat took up this post at the beginning of March. Favorably welcomed, the Vade mecum immediately showed itself to have a real utility. With the international identity card, published in collaboration with the international confederation of students, this publication enabled the foreign student to enter more easily into the Catholic circles of his new place of residence.
At the end of August 1930, Munich was the site of a Congress, presided over by Dr. Martin Luible, which witnessed a real renewal of Pax Romana. The lectures were on the situation of Catholicism in Germany. During the missionary session. Canon Charrière, founder of the Fribourg work of St. Justin for oriental students, spoke enthusiastically on the student apostolate in missionary countries. And his plan was the starting point for a concrete action in this too neglected field. For the first time, the…chaplains held a special session and decided in future to meet during each Congress. The commission of women students was made into a secretariat with its headquarters in Fribourg, and Miss Madeleine Comte was put in charge. The often stated idea of starting, on the international plane, an Association of Friends of Pax Romana, virtually realized in Switzerland in 1927, was formulated as a resolution. Although the happy effects of the reorganization of the secretariat were already being felt, its activities were limited by the ever feeble finances. The support of friends in the different countries would bring about an amelioration of the situation and a discharging of the old debts which weighed down the secretariat. Other decisions were taken and in the following months they began to be carried out. Centres for student exchanges were organized in Paris and Berlin, exchange secretaries, with questionnaires and formulae at their disposal, started work in different countries, Pax Romana circles were formed in several university centres and the question of collective journeys found a solution, thanks to the collaboration of the work of St. Justin in Fribourg.
After a regional meeting in April 1931, bringing about fruitful exchanges of views at Grenoble between women students of four countries, the heads of Pax Romana returned to hold their meetings in the little city which had been its cradle, in order to celebrate in all simplicity its –
Under the theme of «The University and the Catholic Student», this Anniversary Congress was held in Fribourg from 20th to 26th July 1931. A booklet published by its organization commit tee retraced the stages already passed. Despite the inevitable dark patches, the balance-sheet for these ten years was, in fact, clearly positive. After the years of groping about, the organization of Pax Romana had become stronger, its activities multiplied and it influence grown: the noble ideal of its founders had become living reality. Avoiding all hazardous internationalism, Pax Romana ensured the representation of Catholic students in organized international life, mainly by playing an important role in the committee of representatives of the international organizations of students. This was due to an initiative taken in 1926 by the intellectual co-operation commission of the League of Nations which was presided over fromJ926 to 1929 by Mr. G. de Reynold, and from 1930 by Mr. de Halecki, both friends of Pax Romana. But that was only a secondary aspect of its activities for Catholic university people, this spreading over diverse planes religious, intellectual, profession al and social.
It is this balance sheet that Rudi Salat and l intended to draw up in the booklet. This brought together also a series of monographs on the member federations, which l had published to make the efforts of all our friends better known, and to give better knowledge of their strength to the 40,000 students then grouped in Pax Romana. A glimpse of their missionary activities, from the pen of Fr. Rossel, opportunely completed them.
Among the stands taken by the Congress, it would be impossible to pass over in silence its clear attitude towards the ideologies of nationalism and communism, the appeal addressed to the members of Pax Romana to frequent Catholic universities, the encouragement given to its young commission Pro reditu in Ecclesia unitatem and, result of the initiative of Mr. J. Python, today member of the Fribourg government, the formation of a commission to promote Latin as international language. In the finance commission, generous offers showed how deeply felt was the need to remove the debt crippling the development of Pax Romana.
The second ten years
Some weeks later Messrs. Gremaud, Rossel, Salat and O’Neill” went to America for the tenth Congress of University entr’aide. This journey was extremely fruitful. In Canada people spoken to were all in favor of the founding of a federation of French-speaking Catholic students. In the United States our delegates made contact with the Federation of Catholic College Clubs, the National Alumni Federation, and the Sodality Movement. These organizations and the heads of the Catholic institutions agreed to constitute a liaison committee with the aim of divers associations affiliating to Pax Romana. .
In December of the same year, the delegates of most of the Ibero-American countries, of which only Uruguay was then affiliated to Pax Romana, met in Mexico: they created a secretariat with which ours immediately entered into contact. In the beginning March 1932 the first international Press Congress of Catholic university youth took place in the School of Journalism of the Catholic Faculties of Lille. As Vice-President of Pax Romana and responsible for its bulletin, I had to read a report on the Catholic University press in the World. This congress gave birth to a permanent international press secretariat, and Leon Verschave agreed to run it. Some months later, at the Bordeaux congress, this new Lille secretariat integrated with Pax Romana.
It was in Bordeaux, with Dr. Godard as President, that the members of Pax Romana met that year for their Congress. The theme: International and Social Order reflected the preoccupations of the time. Beforehand, Pax Romana Days had been held at Luxemburg: they had revealed serious divergences of opinion concerning nationalism.
A new step ahead was made with the first outline of a professional secretariat in the medical field. The work of bringing this experiment to a head was given to a former President, Dr. Nello Palmieri (Naples) who also wished to bring together, as we are again trying to do this year – but we hope with greater success – the friends and former members of Pax Romana. In addition he was charged with representing us at the Institute of Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations, as due to the resignation of its President, Mgr. Beaupin, the work of our own commission was transferred to the Fribourg Secretariat. On the other hand, the part played by our missionary secretariat in the organization of the eighth International University Congress in favour of the Missions, which was held in Fribourg from 30th July to 3rd August, was recognized. And it was at Lourdes that the impressive closing ceremony under the presidency of Mgr. Gerlier took place.
The following year, two study days were organized at Solothurn and Heiliglkreuz. Besides this the general secretary took part in a Catholic women students’ week at Wurzburg.
However, because of the insufficiency of the methods of collaboration the international movement had lead in its wings. The past war had been forgotten and already people were beginning to fear what alert minds presaged. It seemed urgent to descend from the clouds of the Wilsonian institution to try to reorganize the world, starting from the nation… Although the orientation of Pax Romana did not need to be modified, it wanted to put more stress on Catholic action in the service of the federations. Thus the August 1933 Congress at Luxemburg, under president Lambert Schauss, was devoted to the study of the social work of university students. Among its decisions figures the creation of a social secretariat under the leadership of Mr. Bopp (Germany).
In December, the Ibero-American secretariat for Catholic students, founded two years before in Mexico, organized in Rome a congress at which the Pax Romana secretaries took part. An Ibero-American Confederation of Catholic Students (CIDEC) was born in the eternal city; an agreement was made between it and Pax Romana; it concerned in particular the method of adherence of the national associations of these countries. During the same period the still very active press secretariat at Lille (SIPUC) started up an International Catholic University Agency. At the beginning January 1934 the «social days» in Paris brought together the Catholic students who attended the big schools there.
In Luxemburg originated the idea of replacing the 1934 congress by a Catholic students’ pilgrimage to Rome for the closing of the Holy Year. Thus almost a thousand university people, chaplains and former members, arranged to meet there during the Easter holidays. On 5th April they were received by the Pope. There were several Vatican personalities among the lecturers at the study days, which were based on Catholic action in the university.
As the medical secretariat experiment was satisfactory, a juridical secretariat was set up the following year. Its leadership was undertaken by Dr. van Campen (Netherlands). And the Association of Friends of Pax Romana finally took shape, although its members were not very numerous.
In the summer of 1935 the congress members were the guests of Czechoslovakia. Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia welcomed them gladly. At Prague sessions devoted to the general theme, New Man in a New Age, were held. Questions of an internal nature were treated at Bratislava. A new professional secretariat was created, for comparative literature, under the direction of Dr. Maracovic of Zagreb. The assembly decided to substitute for the three monthly Folia Periodica a monthly journal containing illustrations and advertisements, the editing of which was to remain in my hands. Seven federations of Asia, America and Europe were officially admitted as members of Pax Romana which thus tended more and more to become a truly world-wide organization.
The following year Pax Romana held its meetings in Austria, at Salzburg and Vienna. The general theme: The mission of Catholic university people in contemporary culture, was examined by specialists from the angles of the press, cinema and radio. At this congress Pax Romana adopted new statutes better suited to. its development. The General Assembly was replaced by an inter-federal council composed of one delegate from each federation. An executive bureau, formed by the acting President and his three predecessors with the General Secretary, replaced the old Directing Committee. The voting procedure was simplified and the collaboration of non-federal organizations facilitated by the introduction of a new category of corresponding members. Finally, the old special commissions were turned into sub-secretariats. France was chosen to organize the 193_ Congress and the participation of Pax Romana at the World Exhibition of the Catholic Press was assured.
Preceded by study days at Bouffémont devoted to university Catholic action within the framework of Pax Romana – religious, philosophical, cultural, professional and social formation, etc. – the Congress took place in Paris at the same time as the international exhibition. Max Legendre presided. And the congress members, all seven hundred of them – a number rarely achieved – were preoccupied with the sad problem of the unemployment of intellectuals. New affiliations brought to forty-four the number of organizations grouped in Pax Romana. An address to the Congregation of Rites was voted in favour of the examination of virtues by Pier Giorgio Frassati.
The Interfederal Assembly met at Vaduz in the spring of 1938. Under the presidency of Dr. Wraber of Ljubljana, it approved the warning of the secretariat about organizations with communists at their centre, and about the second World Youth Congress. Fr. J. Tschuor, the first General Secretary, since become parish priest of Schaan (Liechtenstein), was called on to be Vice President, and Pax Romana days in Yugoslavia, were prepared for August.
These last began at Rogaska Slatina, near the Magyar frontier. Canon Cardjin, founder of the Y. C. W., took part, because in this resort the work was to be that of examining the experiences of students in their social work and also, since such was to be the theme of the Congress, the atitude to adopt to block communist penetration into student circles. Lectures and discussions on this subject were taken up again, on a more general level, at Bled. Among the discussions of this Congress, which ended at Ljubljana, two stand out: the creation of a chaplains’ secretariat, and the acceptance of the invitation made to Pax Romana to hold its next Congress in New York, during the fiftieth anniversary of the Catholic University of America. For the first time a non-European President, Mr. Edward Kirchner, was elected. The delegates eventually accepted, with regret, the resignation of the heads of three secretariats, social, press and mission; Messrs. Schauss, Verschave and Rossel.
Meeting in Paris in January 1939 under the direction of its second Vice President Roger Millot, the executive office designated Fr. Oswald Buchs (Switzerland) to direct the missionary secretariat and arranged for the next Interfederal Assembly to be in Switzerland.
It took place in Sarnen in April. Mr. Kirchner presided. The study days, the normal prelude, had as aim, The organization of a federation of Catholic students. Threats of war led the assembly to constitute an American section which could, if necessary, provisionally assume the tasks of the General Secretariat. At the end of the discussions, the President of the Swiss confederation, Mr. Etter, welcomed the ‘participants to Bern: in the federal palace.
Some days later, Messrs. Kirchner and Salat went to Rome to see His Holiness, Pius XII, who, on 2nd March, had been chosen by the Conclave to succeed His Holiness, Pius XI. The new Sovereign Pontiff wanted to assure Pax Romana of his paternal goodwill, and to take an interest in its work. In May, Mr. Kirchner went to Lima for the second Congress of the Iber-American confederation.
On 27th August, the Pax Romana delegates arrived in New York. In the afternoon they were welcomed in Washington where, on the following day,
a pontifical Mass was celebrated at the Catholic University, followed by the inaugural session of our first Overseas Congress. But on 1st September the world learnt, to its horror, of the instigation of a lightening attack by the troops of the Third Reich against unfortunate Poland. The Interfederal Assembly immediately took emergency measures. The new President, Mr. Joaquin Ruiz Giménez (Spain), Mr. Kirchner first Vice-President, and Fr. Gremaud were at the head of Pax Romana during the whole of the hostilities. As foreseen since the spring, a section of the secretariat was transferred to the United States. Mr. Kirchner assumed direction. And Rudi Salat remained where he was to ensure the continuity while the European delegations hastened to use the services of an Italian company to return as fast as possible to the Old World. On 12th September they embarked on the Roma which, eleven days later, reached, Genoa.
Would Pax Romana be able to withstand the tempest?
During the cataclysm
While Washington maintained contact with the Fribourg Secretariat and the non-European federations – Rudi Salat remained in the United States until 1941 and Mr. Kirchner was, in addition, aided by Fr. Ferree S. M. and by some Canadian friends – in Fribourg Fr. Gremaud turned the activity of the secretariat to the work of helping students in the warring countries.
The cessation of federations’ contributions impeded independent action, so Pax Romana worked within the framework both of the Swiss Catholic Mission, and of the European fund for help to students, the common organism of help created in 1942, on the basis of strict political and religious neutrality, by the international universal Entr’aide, the World Student Christian Federation and Pax Romana.
The Swiss Catholic Mission thus charged the Fribourg Secretariat with the book service. Fifteen thousand religious books were published in English, and the same number in Italian. By the end of June 1946, 600,000 books in 15,000 parcels and 250 cases had been sent to prisoners. For this book service, the Vatican paid Swiss Frs. 43,459 and the American National Catholic Welfare Conference Swiss Frs. 234,521.
The European Fund for aid to students, which became in August1943 the World Fund for aid to students, was run by a committee which had Fr. Gremaud as Vice-President from the start. André Florinetti, the future President of Pax Romana, also became a member in 1942. This service came to the help of students who were prisoners of war, internees, or refugees. The financial participation of Pax Romana in this entr’aide organization was able to grow, from 1944 onwards, thanks to the gifts of the National Catholic Welfare Conference. Its contribution thus reached in 1946 Swiss Frs. 56,000. The committee of this national fund carried out its work until the end of 1949. After the end of hostilities new tasks included aid for tubercular students treated at Leysin, maintenance of rest centres at Combloux (France), Rocca di Papa (Italy), and Ashton Hayes (Great Britain), opening of university hostels in China and India, and the sending of books, pharmaceutical products and laboratory equipment into these countries.
When the Fribourg and Washington secretariats tried to come the help of student war victims, Pax Romana look a leap forward in Latin America. Rudi Salat became, from April 1941, its itinerant ambassador. On his return to Europe, the nightmare dispersed, the Holy See awarded him, in gratitude for his merit, the order of St. Gregory the Great, with the grade of commander.
In 1941 an inter-American Assembly of Pax Romana, held at Bogota, decided to open an Ibero-American secretariat there in liaison with the IberoAmerican Confederation of Catholic Students (CIDEC). This secretariat ceased its activity in 1943, but in March 1944 a new one was constituted in Santiago de Chili after a week of common studies of the CIDEC and of Pax Romana in which Edward Kirchner and Rudi Salat participated. This secretariat, directed by Dr: Domingo Santa Maria, sent out circulars each month. It edited a bulletin of which one number in March 1945 was devoted to the memory of the Rt. Rev. Mgr. Besson, Honorary President of Pax Romana. The federations of different countries, several of which formally adhered to Pax Romana, published periodicals, and took part in the entr’aide w6rk for student war victims. At Lima in March 1946 the second Inter-American Assembly and, at the same time; the third congress of the CIDEC took place. The theme of the discussions was, The responsibility of the Catholic university movement in face of the problems of the hour. ]oaquin Ruiz Giménez, President, Edward Kirchner and Roger Millot, its two Vice-Presidents, Rudi Salat, Administrative Secretary, and Domingo Santa Maria, Director of its inter-American secretariat, represented Pax Romana. .
Our movement had victoriously resisted the frightful storm of iron and fire which had burst upon the world.
While Pax Romana was implanting itself solidly in Latin America, the Fribourg secretariat did not remain inactive. As soon as the first indication of the end of fighting appeared, it began to re-establish collaboration founded on the Christian ideal. Already in the spring of 1944, contact was established for the first time at the Catholic and international University of Fribourg with its foreign students who were able to keep up relations with their former federations. A new meeting was held in 1945, during the the Easter holidays, at Montbarry, near Fribourg. Delegates, mainly from Spain, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Czechoslovakia took part in it with their Swiss friends. Despite the difficulties of the first exchanges of views, the disappointments, the bitterness, agreement was reached on the necessity, in this time of upheaval, to return bravely to work.
Other exchanges of views were made the same year in London by representatives of twelve countries come to attend the celebration of the centenary of the conversion of Cardinal Newman. Although this regional assembly did not have the power to take decisions concerning the reorganization of Pax Romana, the questions of opening it to university graduates was discussed, as well as the extension on the spiritual plane of the entr’aide work, and the foundation in one of our Catholic universities of an institute of international research.
At the end of June 1946, after the commemoration in Salamances of the fourth anniversary of the death of Francisco Vittoria, the President Ruiz Giménez took the initiative in tightening bonds, loosened by the war, between European and American students – more than thirty countries were represented. This first Congress since the end of hostilities treated the great problems of the hour on moral as well as social and cultural planes, and, deduced from this, the future tasks of Pax Romana. Hs work: the apostolate in university circles, the affirmation of the rights of the individual in the face of abusive interventions of the States and the perils menacing Christianity. .
In Salamanca, the foundation of an international association of lecturers in Catholic universities, Universitas, was agreed upon, and Professor Dering of Lublin chosen to preside. Thus the first attempt was made to group Catholic intellectuals in an international cadre by grouping them by profession. Indeed it appeared inopportune to continue to make Pax Romana rest solely on the student organizations at a time when, in a shattered world, at grips with multiple and agonizing problems of new dimensions, the presence of Catholic thought ought more than ever to be in evidence.
So, it was not surprising that two months later, during its Jubilee Congress, the twentieth held in Fribourg, foundations were laid for an international group of intellectuals, working parallel to that of the students in a spirit of close collaboration.
This Congress began with the first Interfederal Assembly convoked since 1939, and, for old members like me, there were very few familiar faces. Mr. Joaquin Ruiz Giménez, happy in having seen Pax Romana during his seven years of office overcome the divisions which separated humanity, relinquished his mandate. The assembly designated to succeed him Mr. André Florinetti (Switzerland) who, during the conflict, had collaborated with the General Secretary in the very useful work of the World Fund for the help of students, a fund which the Congress decided to continue to work with.
Then, while the intellectuals were discussing in’ Fribourg their future organization without, however, deserting the university and its course of lecture on The conception of the State, the students and chaplains devoted their study days at Estavayer-Ie-Lac to The future of Pax Romana.
Bringing together students and old members in the same spirit of enthusiasm the Congress itself opened solemnly on lst September. Its general theme was The Christian duty of the university student. And its participants wanted to mark the jubilee of Pax Romana by the gift of a bronze commemorative plaque to the University of Fribourg. Placed in the entrance hall, it recalls most appropriately to the incoming students the foundation in Fribourg in
1921 of an organization which has not ceased to work in a generous, constructive spirit and to show during humanity’s tragic hours that the Christian ideal
is stronger than hate. The congress unanimously improved the enlarging of the framework of Pax Romana pending the approval of the Holy See. This entailed drawing up new statutes, placed in the charge of a provisional commission under the presidency of Mr. Hubert Aepli, Chancellor of Fribourg University. Two departures, particularly sad, were announced as irrevocable: those of Fr. Gremaud, who was the incarnation of Pax Romana for us, and of Rudi Salat, to whom our movement owes, in particular, its remarkable emergence in the New World. To both, proclaimed honorary members, the Congress members expressed their boundless gratitude. Fortunately neither one nor the the other ceased to advise the new teams of leaders, particularly the unforgettable Fr. Gremaud who had agreed to be the ecclesiastical assistant to the IMCS. At the final session of the Congress, seventeen federations were officially welcomed to Pax Romana which witnessed the resumption of activities of the social, medical missionary and press secretariats. Mr. Domingo Santa Maria continued to run the Ibero-American secretariat on the other side of the ocean.
To succeed Fr. Gremaud, His Lordship Mgr. Charrière, an old member, called on Fr. Joseph Schneuwly, to-day secretary of UNDA, who was fortunate enough to have the precious assistance of the former aide to the General Secretary, and a great friend of us all, Bernard Ducret. Meeting in Fribourg at the beginning of January 1947, the provision al commission of the ICMICA chose Mr. Ramon Sugranyes de Franch, professor at the University of Fribourg, at its Secretary. At last, in the spring, the delegates of organizations of Catholic intellectuals from twenty countries 9btain with the special blessing of His Holiness Pius XII, the approval of the new structure of Pax Romana.
With the jubilee congress of Fribourg, the old Pax Romana came to an end, this child, always a little weak, which had been transformed into an adult, matured by the vicissitudes of a fratricidal war. But although Pax Romana had changed its face, it remained true to itself, realizing better still the ideal of a truly living university community spread over all Catholicism. Animated by an authentic spirit of apostolate its horizon is not limited to the world of ideas. Of this new Pax Romana it is for its President to retrace, in his turn, its development. Therefore I hand him my pen.
T do not want to hide the joy felt in Fribourg in welcoming in July for a simple reunion the delegates of Pax Romana which is united to it by so many close bonds. Pax Romana to-day a lively forty-year-old whose true aim was MJ well-defined by’ Etienne Gilson: to organize in the world a fraternity of minds who put their intelligence to the service of God.