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The First Colloquio Mediterraneo



La Pira’s word to define how the first conversation unfolded, was “dramatic”. There were two serious crises on hand, Palestine and Algeria. The event’s difficulties began when representatives of the Algerian provisional government which had been formed for just a month made their entrance into the city’s Salone dei Cinquecento and the French delegation which included the theologian Jean Daniélou, walked out.

To make matters worse it all took place in the absence of Giorgio La Pira who had taken ill after the first day’s inaugural ceremony during Mass in Santa Croce. The event continued on as intended but all the criticalities of the Mediterranean were tackled without the dialectical and realistic positivism that the French delegation could have contributed. “We saw the spiritual reasons that unite us and the material issues that divide us” was Louis Massignon’s summing up of the climate of the conversation.

In his opening speech before passing the presidency to the Crown Prince of Morocco La Pira highlighted the need to rediscover “the common vocation and mission, historic and in a way permanent, that Providence has assigned to the peoples and nations who live on the shores of this mysterious lake of Tiberius which is the Mediterranean, is still assigning today and, if we keep faith to it, will continue to assign in the future.

This common historic vocation or mission consists in our peoples and our nations being the bearers of a civilisation which, by way of the incorruptibility and universality of its essential components, constitutes a message of truth, order and goodness valid for all times, all peoples and all nations.”