Paris: Seminar at UNESCO

The seat of UNESCO in Paris was the setting for a university seminar on November 30 centered on the theme of “The Two Cities: the Earthly City and the Heavenly City.” Its purpose was to study the relationship between Christian faith and personal freedom in the message of Saint Josemaria Escriva.

The topic was considered in a broad historical perspective, right from the early Christians and the thought of Saint Augustine, through the Middle Ages and the modern era, including the writings of the founder of Opus Dei

Ruedi Imbach, a professor at the Sorbonne, spoke on the thought of Saint Augustine and “political Augustinianism.” The philosopher Blandine Knegel also discussed the thought of Saint Augustine in her talk, showing its widespread influence throughout history. Marie-Françoise Baslez, professor of ancient history in Paris, spoke on the spiritual and apostolic dynamism of the early Christians. Citing the well-known Epistle to Diognetus, she illustrated the timeliness of being “leaven for the multitude,” which the early Christians did so well. Pierre Manent, professor of political philosophy, discussed the tensions and conflicts the Church has had to confront in the last two centuries in the movement towards secularization in the western world.

Finally Cyrille Michon, titular professor of philosophy at the Sorbonne, gave a presentation based on one of the last books of François-Xavier Guerra, professor of contemporary history at the same university and one of the organizers of the seminar, who had died just twenty days earlier. His presentation focussed on one of the central themes in the writing and preaching of Saint Josemaría Escrivá: the freedom a Christian enjoys before God. A Christian is called to flee from anonymity and assume responsibility for his decisions and initiatives, being a citizen of both cities and becoming “leaven in the mass” through his professional work.

Romana, n. 35, July-December 2002, p. 343-344.

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