For a TFP international summer conference discussing Christian civilization, Austria seemed an excellent site. Even better was the restored fourteenth-century Carthusian Charterhouse where the over 110 participants gathered. At the six-day event held on August 2-7, there was no lack of Christian civilization; it was a veritable immersion.
“Why We Must Restore Christian Civilization: The Solution for a World in Crisis” was the central theme for this summer’s fourth annual Université d’été held in Gaming, Austria. Sponsored by the Tradition Family Property (TFP) organizations in France and Austria, the summer conference also drew participants from Poland, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, the United States, Argentina, Spain and several other nations. Honored guests included Bishop Juan Rodolfo Laise, Bishop Emeritus of San Luis (Argentina) and H.R.I.H. Prince Bertrand of Orleans-Braganza.
Speakers from around the world of the TFPs and esteemed guests delivered timely talks which were simultaneously interpreted in six languages. Prince Bertrand delivered the keynote speech, “Christian Civilization: Definition, Characteristics and Importance Today.” Other talks included a sobering look at the world before Christian civilization by Nestor Fonseca from the TFP’s Rome Bureau. The French TFP’s Benoît Bemelmans masterfully delivered discourses on tradition, family and property and the role of the Blessed Mother in restoring Christian civilization.
Other talks focused not on what Christian civilization is but on how it is being destroyed by chaos, modern ideas and strange philosophies. Particularly noteworthy was an historic perspective of the French Revolution’s Terror by Nicholas Pavillion and a penetrating analysis of the secular European Union as an anti-Christian civilization by Guido de Vignelli.
Best of all, participants had the opportunity to discuss the talks in depth in special discussion periods where they raised questions and brought their perspectives into the debate.
A Cultural Experience
Besides being a challenging intellectual experience, the TFP seminar proved to be a cultural one as well.
The daily programs ranged from a tour of Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace to a visit to the reconstructed medieval castle of Kreuzenstein to a boat ride through a fairytale region of villages, castles and onion-domed churches lining the Danube River. Participants saw firsthand how Christianity created a marvelous civilization that survives today.
While the TFP student conference dealt with temporal matters, it could not ignore the inspiration of the religious element which was never absent from the program. Daily Mass, prayers and visits to religious places of interest were all part of the event. Indeed, a solemn Pontifical High Mass was celebrated by Bishop Laise with all splendor and pomp accompanied by the TFP choir.
A Call to Action
Perhaps it was the little things that made the event so memorable. It was the morning mountain hike, the evening concert or a lively theater skit that marked the occasion. Maybe it was the between-talk conversations or the new international or even intercontinental friendships that were forged that made Gaming so special.
However, friendships and good ideas are not enough to bring about a restoration of Christian civilization. A call to action was essential.
Based on Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s book, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, TFP speakers outlined a number of counter-revolutionary tactics and principles to aid in the concrete struggles participants would face when returning home.
In the final talk, speakers avoided staid abstract principles by turning the program over to university-age students who told stories of their own experiences in recent TFP campaigns and how they faced liberal and leftist opposition. Young members of the American TFP’s Student Action and Poland’s TFP-inspired Fr. Peter Skarga Association for Christian Culture each electrified the audience by demonstrating how effective counterrevolutionary action can be.
All too quickly, the summer conference ended. At the closing banquet, representatives of the national delegations were invited to give their impressions. The often fiery testimonials made evident the abundant graces and blessings all had received.
In the ornate banquet hall, an atmosphere of determined hope and contagious enthusiasm prevailed. The hope centered on the theme of the conference which carried the conviction that Christian civilization must be restored as a solution for a world in upheaval. The enthusiasm was a response to a call to action and dedication that made all sense the certainty of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as foreseen at Fatima.