Buchman's last call on his journey back from India was at Istanbul and his last date there was with the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Athenagoras of Constantinople. The Patriarch was a towering figure, six feet seven inches and topped by a tall mitre. He had spent thirteen years in America and was, in fact, an American citizen.

'I welcome you as the new apostle,' were his first words to Buchman. He seated his guests and then continued with a smile, 'I follow you, Dr Buchman, on my own personal "television" everywhere you go. I read all you write. I receive your inspiration. Many more people than you know are your followers and belong to your brotherhood and army. I belong whole-heartedly to your programme, not only because of my office, but because I personally believe in it. Something told me you would come, but your stay is much too short.'

The Patriarch had, he explained, been impressed by a move made towards him by Ahmed Emin Yalman, the editor of the major Turkish newspaper Vatan, after his visit to Caux in 1946. Yalman had first become reconciled with his old enemy, the then Prime Minister, and started to work for better understanding with Greece. Then he had approached the Patriarch. Together they had entered a mosque, a former Christian cathedral. 'Here I am moved to pray,' the Patriarch had said, casting the unity of faith in one God over the divided group which accompanied them.

'It is all so simple,' Buchman commented when Athenagoras had finished his story.

'Truth is simple,' replied the Patriach, 'but unfortunately people don't like simple things. They want them complicated. At the Last Supper there were no creeds and no doctrines, but one commandment - unity in love.'

When Buchman left an hour later to catch his plane, the Patriarch looked at him severely: 'I would like to keep you here as a prisoner, but you are a free bird and you fly away. God bless you. You are a modern St Paul.'

'No, no,' said Buchman. 'I am a very simple man.'1

It was perhaps ironic that this interview should have taken place just as Buchman was returning to Europe to face severe attacks. In India, soon after the strongest yet propaganda offensive from Moscow against his work had begun, he had heard rumours that two dissimilar bodies in the West - the Secretariat of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)* and the Social and Industrial Council of the Church of England - were producing reports on his activities.

(* Created in 1944 as a breakaway from the Communist-led World Federation of Trade Unions.)


Both these reports were focussing upon Moral Re-Armament's work in industry, one of its major emphases since World War II. Buchman's vision for industry had, from the first, been both simple and exalted. It was meant to 'produce enough for the needs of all'.2 The basic need was a new motivation in people at all levels. 'Suppose everybody cared enough, everybody shared enough, wouldn't everybody have enough?' he had said in East Ham Town Hall in 1938. '... Only a new spirit in men can bring a new spirit in industry. Industry can be the pioneer of a new order, where service replaces selfishness, and where industrial planning is based upon the guidance of God.'3

He felt management and labour could 'work together, like the fingers on the hand',4 and in order to make that possible he aimed to answer 'the self-will in management and labour who are both so right, and so wrong'.5

This philosophy was in Buchman's view the answer to the class war which was being wastefully fought by people on both sides. He did not see Moral Re-Armament's function as taking sides on economic nostrums - private enterprise versus nationalisation, for instance - nor as working out detailed solutions for particular factories or industries. That was the task of the people involved in each situation. Moral Re-Armament's role was to offer the experience which would free those people's hearts and minds from the motivations or prejudices which prevent just solutions. Buchman believed that if 'the forgotten factor' of God's plan and purpose became a reality to people in any situation, they would be free to find solutions which had previously eluded them. It would take hard work and detailed negotiations. Everything would not be solved automatically just by people changing, but often the way to creative thought was blocked until someone did change - and, in the world at large, that was the last thing people thought possible.

However, by 1953 numerous business men and industrialists in many parts of the world were trying to conduct their affairs on these principles and, according to William Grogan, an International Vice-President of the American Transport Workers' Union, 'between 1946 and 1953 national union leaders, local union officials, shop stewards and rank and file union members from seventy-five countries had received training' in them 'at Caux and Mackinac Island, or in their own countries'.6 Not all of these, of course, had applied MRA principles when they got home, nor did all those who did have startling results to report; but Evert Kupers, for twenty years President of the Dutch Confederation of Trades Unions, stated that 'the thousands who have visited Caux have been deeply impressed by its message for our age and by the real comradeship they found there'.7


Teams equipped with plays had been at work in most of the advanced industrial countries as well as in many developing countries. They had used much the same methods as in the Ruhr and the British coalfields. In Britain this work had spread to many situations in the docks, the motor industry and elsewhere. For example, at Mackinac in 1951, Buchman had been presented with a model of a tractor, symbolising the end of a personality clash in the Ford Motor Company's Dagenham plant between a shop steward convenor responsible for 16,000 men and the superintendent of the assembly building. The results were reflected in productivity and pay charts. The superintendent, H. W. Whatham, speaking with the convenor, Arthur Morrell, at his side, said, 'Production efficiency has reached 100.4 per cent, the highest it has ever been since the war. Not a single grievance has left the assembly line unsolved since we started on moral re-armament. We have cut out overtime in the export shipping department and the men are receiving pay increases.'8 Buchman always chaffed Whatham on his figures. 'My standard is 100 per cent,' he would say. 'How do you get 100.4 per cent?'*

(* Buchman refused to quote this figure in his next broadcast, contenting himself with the previous month's figure of 99.43 per cent, which was already better than anything since the war.)

A more far-reaching development had taken place in the French textile industry through the initiative of Maurice Mercier, Secretary-General of the textile unions within the Force Ouvrière, and French textile employers whom he met at Caux. On an initial visit to Caux in 1949, Mercier 'observed that the employers of almost all countries, transported into this atmosphere, were reconsidering their original, outdated points of view and were more easily becoming conscious of their responsibility as men and as employers'.9 He himself had left the Communist Party when he saw the Resistance movement degenerate into petty jealousies and obscure intrigues after the war. The conference at Caux and a subsequent meeting with Buchman brought him a new perspective. 'Class war today', he said, 'means one half of humanity against the other half, each possessing a powerful arsenal of destruction.. . Not one cry of hatred, not one hour of work lost, not one drop of blood shed - that is the revolution to which Moral Re-Armament calls bosses and workers.'10


On the initiative of those who had met at Caux, certain textile managers and workers signed a national agreement on 1 February 1951 - the first in France since the war. It was also the first to guarantee to employees a share in the benefits of higher productivity. Six hundred thousand workers were immediately given large wage rises. The same year, on Mercier's initiative, eighty textile factory delegations made up of employers, workers and staff met at Moral Re-Armament conferences.

Two years later, on 9 June 1953, the textile employers and trades unions - except the Communist CGT - signed a solemn agreement 'in complete openness, in the common interests of workers, firms and country', which was the foundation-stone of a policy of co-operation for the next twenty years. Under it, textile workers were also the first in France to benefit from, among other things, a retirement pension scheme and partial unemployment benefit. A subsequent anti-inflation agreement was called by Prime Minister Antoine Pinay 'one of the first solid achievements on the road of the change which is indispensable to the economic survival of the country'. 11 It was not until 1968 that employers at a national level in other industries were obliged to grant their workers the same level of social benefits as the textile workers had been given voluntarily.

Buchman's part in helping towards such transformations generally came when people in industry met him at Caux, Mackinac or elsewhere. These were often people who were at the heart of major industrial battles in their countries. Thus in the summer of 1950 Dan Hurley, the Chairman of the National Amalgamated Stevedores and Dockers' Union in Britain, came to Caux. It had been he who had initiated the British dock strike in 1949 by declaring the Canadian ship Beaverbrae 'black' - a strike which was said to have cost the British economy the equivalent of the entire Marshall Aid received from America that year.

Hurley wrote to Buchman after getting home, 'My outlook has certainly adopted an entirely new aspect, and how much easier it has become to see the other fellow's point of view, and not to be for ever prepared to ram home the very aggressive doctrine which has been part of my policy for such a long time....Well, Frank, no matter how long it may be until we meet next, I shall always recall you as I last saw you, in your room, not infirm, but resting after a very hard day's work, which I suppose was a replica of your days since Caux opened. What a strain it must be teaching mankind an ideology, which by a great many like myself is approached with a good deal of suspicion, and yet with all that amount of strain that we fools impose upon you, you are able to look the most serene person I ever met.'12


Hurley was one of many dockers who met Buchman and his colleagues. When The Forgotten Factor was shown in Poplar, East London, in November 1951 ten present and past officials of three rival dock unions sent invitations to every Member of Parliament, as well as to dockers and dock employers.

Similar effects could be quoted from many countries. Some were reported in the local or national press,* while others were recorded in various Moral Re-Armament Information Services. Indeed, it was upon such accounts in MRA publications that the compiler of the ICFTU report relied for what turned out to be an uncompromising attack on Moral Re-Armament.

(* For example Miami Herald (25 March 1950): 'National Airlines. Pilots Union Settle Grievances. Philosophy of Moral Re-Armament Ushers in Era of Understanding'.)

The existence of this report was first revealed in a daily bulletin issued by the ICFTU Secretariat during the Confederation's Third World Congress at Stockholm in July 1953. It stated that 'a report was presented on the Moral Re-Armament Movement, headed by Dr Buchman, with particular reference to its attempted incursions into the field of industrial relations' and added that 'free trades unions would be well advised to guard against any interference from quarters whose financial backing is in any case dubious'. The world press naturally concluded that, as the New York World-Telegram and Sun reported, 'The ICFTU meeting in Stockholm has passed a resolution condemning MRA for "anti-Trade Union efforts".13

This was not so. A draft report did exist, which was presented to the Executive by the Secretariat at Stockholm. But neither at the Stockholm meeting, nor at any other time, was this report or any resolution concerning it presented to or voted on by the Congress itself, the only body entitled to make policy statements on the Confederation's behalf. The report was nevertheless issued the following September as a supplement to the Secretariat's Information Bulletin.14 Again there was world-wide publicity.

The report declared that it had been prepared at the request of the Socialist Trade Unions of India, Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS). The HMS's President, Sibnath Banerjee, promptly denied that either he or his executive had made such a request. Later it emerged that an individual HMS official had made a personal, unofficial inquiry as a result of the wide response to Moral Re-Armament in India. An official of the ICFTU Secretariat had thereupon suggested that he put his inquiry in writing, which would enable a report to be made.

The theme of the report was that 'MRA interfered with Trade Union activities' and was engaged in 'anti-union efforts, even to the extent of trying to found "yellow unions"'. It also stated that 'MRA's results in industry are illusory' and that its 'dubious financial sources . . . mean that the movement has to make concessions scarcely in keeping with the original Buchman programme'. By this last statement the report presumably meant that MRA received large sums from industry and was therefore biased in favour of management. No inquiry was directed by the ICFTU to Moral Re-Armament before this allegation was made. The American Federation of Labour and the Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL and CIO) did make such inquiries and were shown that, in the relevant year, no contributions were received from the larger industrial organisations or companies in America, and that in Britain gifts from all industrial sources had been less than three per cent of the whole.


The evidence presented to substantiate the main charges consisted of nine quotations from MRA publications and nine opinions from members of the ICFTU's Executive Board or of affiliated organisations, who had been sent a questionnaire. The nine quotations from MRA literature were presented under the subhead 'MRA provided the Proofs'. But, on examination against the original texts, it became apparent that seven of them had been so edited as completely to alter their meaning, while the other two, even in their truncated forms, had little to do with the charges made.*

(* Julian Thornton-Duesbery, then Master of St Peter's College, Oxford, in The Open Secret of MRA (Blandford, 1964, pp. 96-119), printed the original texts of the items quoted and the ICFTU versions side by side. 'The purpose of this "highly prejudiced" editing was to try to prove that MRA "interferes in Trade Union matters",' he commented. 'The original, unedited texts prove exactly the opposite...Study of the unedited texts, also, makes it clear that the author of the report has been unable to produce a single instance of any attempt to found a "yellow union".' Thornton-Duesbery also printed beneath each item the comments of trade union officials in the situation concerned, comments which contradicted the report's interpretations. These statements had been sent to the ICFTU, but had never been published by that body.)

The nine 'opinions' printed in the report were correctly so described, as only one of them contained a factual statement of any kind - a statement which was, incidentally, declared to be misinformed by one of the men referred to who had since become the Branch Chairman of the complaining official's own union in the area. Seven of the opinions were hostile to Moral Re-Armament, one neutral and one favourable. Whether this was a representative sample of the replies to the questionnaire sent out by the ICFTU's Secretariat is not known. Other answers favourable to Moral Re-Armament were subsequently found to have been sent to the editor and ignored. The favourable reply of the Executive Vice-President of the American CIO, John Riffe, was included in the original July draft of the report but omitted in the final September version.


No national trade union bodies, to my knowledge, adopted the ICFTU report. In Britain, the Trades Union Congress and the Labour Party expressly dissociated themselves from it on the basis of freedom of conscience for their members.15 Monitors of East European broadcasts and press remarked, however, on the use made in them of the draft report even before its publication, and the world media, unable swiftly to check on the report's sources, gave it wide publicity when it appeared. Later some editors, discovering its defects, began to wonder why the ICFTU had acted so precipitately. Der Bund of Berne hazarded the possibility that the report might be 'a cuckoo's egg laid by Moscow in its opponents' nest to bring suspicion both on them and on Moral Re-Armament, to create confusion'.16 Dr William Bohn, editor of the New York Social Democrat weekly, The New Leader, was more cautious as to the report's origin, but clear about its falsity: 'These charges, apparently launched with the backing of so respected an organisation (as the ICFTU), created a great impression in many parts of the world. But as time wore on and new facts came to light, their impact has tended to fade. . . It seems to me that, on the whole, the men and women of MRA have come out of the conflict with colours flying ... It is disturbing to note that the charges made against MRA by the Secretariat of the anti-Communist ICFTU have been picked up by Moscow.'17

Buchman was convinced that the ICFTU report was 'only the opening round of a world offensive', but he did not commit himself as to its source. He seems to have been mainly interested to see how opposition would affect people. 'Persecution is the fire which forges prophets - and quitters,' he used to say. He was particularly delighted by John Riffe's forthright action when the matter was raised at the 1953 CIO Convention, where, coincidentally, Riffe's position as Executive Vice-President was up for ratification.

Challenged by prominent members on his relation to Moral Re- Armament, Riffe said, 'Some of you have met people in Moral Re- Armament; some of you haven't. Well, you're looking at one now...Nobody can object to John Riffe quitting whisky and poker and a lot of other things he shouldn't have been doing. Now if contact with MRA makes a union man like me honest and decent and with an unselfish love for his fellow men, is that interfering with labour? If it gives me a happy home life again, and makes me do my job with greater responsibility, is that hurting labour?

'Millions of our members believe in these principles. There isn't a man in this room that wouldn't say they are right. But do we all live them?. . . I'm in your hands. No matter what you decide, I won't harbour any bitterness.'


Out of the silence, one member rose: 'We've heard the Executive Vice-President. We know the way he has lived. I only wish I could live that way myself.' When the full Convention met and Riffe came up for confirmation in his post, no one stood against him and he was elected by acclamation. The Chairman of the International Committee also made it clear that no constitutionally sound ICFTU report had been authorized and that the AFL had also refused to condemn Moral Re-Armament.18Buchman's comment was, 'Grateful for an intelligently thoughtful friend like John.'

Meanwhile James Haworth, President of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association in Britain, a former MP and member of the Labour Party Executive, had gone to Brussels to confront the ICFTU Secretariat with their report's inaccuracies. He had an interview with the Secretary-General and the officer who had compiled the report. 'We went through the Report in detail, and when I left, I was under the impression it would be withdrawn,' Haworth wrote.19 It was - but not until twelve years later, on 18 August 1966, when the ICFTU Secretary-General, Omer Bécu, wrote to Moral Re-Armament in London confirming the ICFTU's 'attitude of strict neutrality' to Moral Re-Armament, and released his letter to the media.20

Whatever the motive of the compiler of the 'ICFTU report', most trade unionists who, without examining it closely, lent to it the authority of the ICFTU Bulletin, were probably moved by a quite simple human emotion - the feeling that an outside body was poaching on their preserves. This same feeling seems to have been at least one factor behind the launching of the report of the Church of England's Social and Industrial Council.

During the spring and summer of 1952 The Forgotten Factor was performed in a series of British industrial centres at the invitation of local management and trade union leaders. In each city the cast and accompanying team were welcomed by Church leaders who found that the play stimulated interest in spiritual matters among people who had little touch with organised religion. That, for example, was the theme of the Provost of Portsmouth's sermon at a service of thanksgiving for their visit in Portsmouth Cathedral,21 and the thought behind a letter of support from the Bishop of Coventry to that city's daily newspaper.22The Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Revd G. Johnson Jeffrey, wrote to 1,560 Scots Ministers announcing the play's visit to Glasgow as 'a venture of faith which deserves the closest attention of all Church leaders'.23

In Sheffield, however, the play encountered a different reception from one influential group of churchmen. A prestigious industrial mission, led by the Bishop's industrial chaplain, Canon E. R. Wickham, was already at work there, and it soon became apparent that Wickham and those close to him disapproved of Moral Re-Armament's intervention and regarded The Forgotten Factor as a hindrance, rather than a help, to the work they were doing. The Bishop of Sheffield himself, the Rt Revd L. S. Hunter, expressed this view when, addressing the Convocation of York shortly after the visit of The Forgotten Factor, he dismissed the play, which he had not himself seen, as 'glib emotionalism and shallow psychology' and added, 'It is frightening how easily some industrialists and others fall for the salesmanship of MRA.'*

(* 14 May 1952. Reprinted in Sheffield Diocesan Review, August 1952. Observers were all the more surprised at the Bishop's speech because of the broadly sympathetic description of Buchman's work given in his book, A Parson's Job (SCM Press, 1931, pp. 86-8) written when Archdeacon of Northumberland.)


The Bishop was Vice-Chairman of the newly founded Social and Industrial Council of the Church of England, and at its fourth meeting on 26 February 1953, which he chaired, the Council decided it 'should consider publishing a report on Moral Re-Armament'. Three months earlier the Council 24 had asked Gerald Steel, Managing Director of the Sheffield-based United Steel Company and a member of the Council, to produce a short factual account of Moral Re-Armament's work in industry, which he now presented. In introducing it, he said 'he knew a number of people who were extremely critical of the Church who were saying MRA was first-class and that the Church, as far as they could make out, was sneering at it, and they did not think very much of the Church on that score.' He thought the Church should make its position clear. This was generally agreed and the matter was passed to the Council's Standing Committee. 25

The Standing Committee set up a Working Party. Canon Cyril Hudson of St Albans, who undertook to be both Convenor and Secretary, selected as Chairman, 'acting on his own initiative',26 the Bishop of Colchester, the Rt Revd F. D. V. Narborough, who had been a consistent critic of Buchman's work since the 1920s. Canon Wickham was co-opted. Another of those co-opted had shortly before expressed strong disapproval of Buchman's work in a conversation with MRA workers. None of those suggested in the Council or the Standing Committee who had recent association with Moral Re-Armament was included or consulted. The Revd Dennis Nineham* and Bishop Geoffrey Alien* were invited to draft the theological and psychological chapters of the report, while Canon Wickham was to be entrusted with the third and last chapter, 'The Social Thinking of MRA'.27

(* Professor of Biblical and Historical Theology, King's College, London, 1954-1958.)

(* Then Principal of Ripon Hall, Oxford, and later Bishop of Derby. In the early thirties as Chaplain of Lincoln College, Oxford, he had worked closely with the Oxford Group but by then, in his own words, 'had had no active association for many years'.)


The Council of Management of the Oxford Group only heard that the Working Party was in operation when three individuals who had been helped by Moral Re-Armament - the Mayor of Folkestone, a lecturer in history at Greenwich Naval College and a young East End clergyman - were informally approached to give evidence to it by Bishop Narborough or Canon Hudson, neither of whom, according to these individuals, concealed their hostility towards Moral Re-Armament. These three felt incompetent to give evidence of MRA's national and world-wide work, but were willing to give their personal experience provided some of those centrally responsible for the whole work were also invited. This condition was not accepted, so they declined.

Throughout 1953 there was practically no contact between the Working Party and people identified with Moral Re-Armament. Canon Wickham spent a few hours at Caux. Canon Hudson had dinner with R. C. Mowat, the history lecturer, and three friends, at Mowat's invitation. Finally, on Mowat's insistence, a meeting between the Working Party and the Oxford Group Council of Management seemed about to take place, Bishop Narborough suggesting 27 January 1954 as a convenient date.

Two weeks before that date events took place which destroyed that opportunity. The Daily Telegraph printed letters from Canon Wickham and Bishop Narborough strongly criticising Moral Re-Armament.28* Sir Lynden Macassey, who had chaired numerous government tribunals and was advising the Oxford Group, was scandalised that the chairman and a member of a body 'preparing what must be assumed to have been intended to be a fair and impartial report. . .' should 'write partisan letters to the public press condemnatory of what they had to inquire into...' 'It would be difficult if not impossible', he added, 'to imagine a parallel action...in the case of any committee or tribunal which was engaged in forming a judgement on an important controversy...'29 The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Geoffrey Fisher, opined, 'One must suppose that this Working Party was not meant to consist entirely of impartial people', but a week later assured his correspondent, the Mayor of Folkestone, 'May I just underline that no kind of report from this Working Party will reach the press or be made public at all. . .'30

(* Canon Wickham's letter of 13 January was answered by a strong statement by the Moderator of the Church of Scotland and leaders of all the Free Churches on 15 January. Others who wrote in protest as the controversy developed included the Metropolitan of India, the Most Revd Arabindo Nath Mukerjee, nine Swedish bishops, and Dr Toyohiko Kagawa and Bishop Augustine Takasa of Japan. These and other statements, some of which appeared in British newspapers, are collected in Report on Moral Re-Armament, edited by R. C. Mowat (Blandford, 1955). None of these are quoted in the report.)


When it met on 28 January 1954 the parent Council at first seemed almost as shocked as Sir Lynden. It minuted that the letters were 'not only ill-advised but improper', while a senior member, the Bishop of Birmingham, regarded them as 'vitiating the whole work of the sub-committee'. In the end, however, the Council agreed that the Working Party should not be dismissed, but that the Council itself should write the Oxford Group and invite two or three representatives to meet with it.31 Next day its Secretary sent this invitation - the first communication received by the Oxford Group from either the Council or the Working Party.

In spite of all that had passed the Oxford Group decided that they should still be prepared to meet the Council. In accepting the invitation they made two conditions, common in such cases: first, that the Council should supply them with a list of matters on which information was required so that they could have it available, and second, that they might bring a competent shorthand writer so that a verbatim note of the discussions could be made.32 The council replied that if the Group felt discussions had to be 'invested with so much formality', it would be better to 'defer any meeting for the time being'.33 The Oxford Group twice officially repeated their willingness to meet the Council. On both occasions the Council refused.34

So on 28 January 1955 the report was given to the press, before it had been seen by the Church Assembly and without any meeting having taken place between the Council or its Working Party and anyone responsible for the work on which they were reporting. Prominent stories were carried next day in all British newspapers and many abroad. Typical headlines were 'Utopian and Escapist' (The Times), 'Psychologically dangerous: Two Dissentients' (Daily Telegraph), and 'Buchmanites should use more thought: Church lacks vigour' (News Chronicle).

It is not known on what grounds Dr Fisher had given assurances to Alderman Moncrieff - and also, it appears, to Lord Hardinge of Penshurst - that 'no kind of report will... be made public', for it is clear from their minutes that the Council and the Working Party had long had publication in mind. On 9 November, however, in what looks like an undignified scramble, the Archbishop wrote to the Council's Secretary insisting that any report must be issued by the Council 'on its own authority as its own report' and not, as the Council intended, by the Working Party. 'Providing that is done,' he said, 'my answer (to Lord Hardinge) holds good.' The Council thereupon obligingly reversed its decision.35


The two dissentients mentioned in the Daily Telegraph headline were General Sir Colin Jardine and Gerald Steel, the industrialist who had written the original outline of Moral Re-Armament's work in industry. They were only permitted to make brief formal statements in the report. In the Church Assembly debate Jardine protested amid 'cheers' at the impropriety which led Bishop Narborough and Canon Wickham to write to the press,36 while Steel wrote to the Secretary of the Council, 'Sentences (in the report) will be quoted out of their context - and certain derisory sentences in the report are the very stuff of which headlines are made.* Idealism and goodwill, on the other hand, are not "news", and references to the sincerity, courage and self-abnegation of the adherents of MRA are likely to appear in very small print if at all. I believe the publication will result in causing much distress to those men and women of goodwill, will be a set-back to their work and reflect little credit on the Church.'37

(* Some of these 'derisory sentences' do not seem to have been in the original text, but to have been added by a small editing committee. The Bishop of Sheffield in the Council meeting of 9 December 1954 tried to get two of them removed against Canon Hudson's successful defence.)

As far as publicity was concerned he proved a true prophet. Even though, following a spirited two-day debate, the report was not adopted but only 'received' by the Assembly, and then only with the proviso that 'this Assembly does not wish to record any judgement upon the merits or demerits of MRA',38 the effect of the initial publicity was not washed away. The world-wide impression had been given that Moral Re- Armament had been condemned by the whole Church of England.

This impression, not perhaps unnaturally, was self-defeating for those in the Council who genuinely hoped to improve Moral Re-Armament's work. People who had sustained such universal public attack tended to feel beleaguered and not only to ignore the occasional praise within the report, but also to become disinclined to pay attention to any helpful advice. For example, Bishop Alien's chapter on the 'Psychology of Group Revival' (which he specifically stated was 'not intended as a description of MRA in its present form') was a helpful discussion of the dangers of any association of people becoming dependent on each other. He rightly emphasised that in the relations of parents and children, of priest or teacher and disciple, psychologist and patient, the junior partner must not remain dependent on the senior or he will not 'grow into the maturity and power of his own free personality'. The present book will have shown how keenly Buchman felt this danger and what drastic steps he took to try and avoid it. He did not always succeed: but the strictures on Moral Re-Armament as 'psychologically dangerous' - added to Bishop Alien's theme, it would seem, by another hand - would surely never have appeared if the Working Party had contained anyone with up-to-date knowledge of the inner life of the Moral Re-Armament fellowship, or even, perhaps, if the Council had accepted the Oxford Group's repeated invitation to meet its responsible representatives.


This lack of contact threw the writers of the report back on a study of MRA literature: and it was for some reason a selective study. None of the writings by theologians, such as Streeter or Thornton-Duesbery or the German Professors Karl Adam or Werner Schöllgen, for example, are mentioned, and Buchman's own speeches are only referred to once. The literature which was referred to seldom gave any account of the devotional life of the individual or the corporate life of those working with Moral Re-Armament, but was concerned mainly with giving good news of God's power at work in society. Here again adequate personal contact would have been helpful for an informed appraisal.

Professor Nineham in his chapter, 'The Theology of MRA', wanted MRA to produce precise theological definitions for doctrines such as Sin, the Atonement, the Incarnation and the Resurrection. This showed a lack of understanding of the function of Moral Re-Armament, which was not to define doctrine. Any attempt to do so would have altered its nature from an organism to a sect, the antithesis of what Buchman intended.

Buchman was outside Britain for all except a couple of months during the years when this report was being planned, prepared, published and debated, but he was kept broadly informed of the different incidents. As he became aware of the methods being employed by the Social and Industrial Council, it seemed to him that, however well-meaning the majority of its members might be, its Working Party had an active core who wished, for whatever reason, to make his work more difficult. One night in Morocco in the spring of 1954 - after the letters to the Daily Telegraph and the renewed refusal of the Council to meet with representatives of the Oxford Group - he expressed to Baynard-Smith the thought that Tom Driberg was involved somewhere behind the scenes: 'The mature politician knows Driberg and assesses him. The Church people are duped by his position. He is a clever article.'

Buchman may have been right or wrong in deducing a Driberg connection with the Church of England report. Nothing overt has appeared to prove it. It may be coincidental that he lived, had his constituency and was a church warden within the diocese in which Bishop Narborough served, and was prominent in the Christian Socialist movement with which both the Bishop and Canon Wickham sympathised. They, of course, would have been unaware of his KGB connections, of which Buchman and his colleagues had been warned by sources as varied as Walton Cole, when Editor-in-Chief of Reuters, and a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain. What is clear is that he had never, since 1928, been absent from any major British move against Buchman, and that he made extensive use of the report both at the time and in a book published after Buchman's death.


As with the ICFTU report, however, Buchman's main interest was with those who spoke up for his work in the Church Assembly. They included the Archdeacon of Halifax, who asked that the Assembly pass on to other business; Sir Cyril Atkinson who wished the Assembly to declare that the report was 'harmful and unjust to a great religious movement'; Lord Selborne who said he read it 'with profound regret and not a little resentment', and the Dean of Exeter who made a last-minute attempt to have the report withdrawn. Buchman was particularly interested in the intervention of the Dean of Westminster, Dr A. C. Don, who, as Archbishop Lang's Chaplain, had conducted the earlier and far more thorough investigation into Buchman and his work. In the debate he stated that 'the report gave him an impression of a lack of open- mindedness in one or two cases. He felt that no good would accrue to the MRA or the Church of England by continuing the debate ...' The Assembly, he went on, 'should guard against saying things that might be untrue and uncharitable, and thereby alienate from the Church of England many good and high-principled people who - whether the Assembly liked it or not - had found in MRA something that they had failed to find elsewhere.'39

Neither the report nor the debate did any good to either party. The Church's supposed condemnation was used by the enemies of Moral Re-Armament, and naturally made many Christians cautious or even contemptuous in their attitude. Those associated with Moral Re-Armament who were members of the Church of England continued to go to their churches, where alone they could receive the sacraments, but it did reinforce in many an impatience at the 'ineffectiveness' of the Church, as admitted in the report, and in some an unwarranted sense of superiority.

Apart from these disparate public attacks on his work Buchman had a more long-term and constant concern: the attitude of Rome. Hundreds of Catholics were coming to Caux each year, and he encountered many in the London docks and in the factories of France, Italy and America. He himself held to the attitude he had expressed to a leading English Jesuit as early as 1933, when he wrote, 'Our principle has always been to send all Roman Catholics back to their Fathers for confession...'40 As for those non-believers who had come to an experience of God through his work, he had added in the same letter, 'Our whole policy is to let each individual decide to what church he is guided to go. Many have become convinced Roman Catholics.' He felt that any renewal of faith which God used him to bring to anyone should enhance, not weaken, their primary loyalties.


It was only in the summer of 1951 that Buchman became aware that a new situation was developing. In August of that year the Holy Office formulated a three-point warning to Catholics, which was not issued to the press or sent immediately to the Nunciatures round the world but which became known at Caux. It read:

1. It is not proper that priests of the diocesan or regular clergy, or, a fortiori, religious women, should take part in meetings of Moral Re-Armament.

2. If special circumstances render such participation desirable, let permission be asked in advance of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office; it will be granted only to learned and experienced priests.

3. Finally, it is not proper for the faithful to accept any office of responsibility in the Moral Re-Armament movement, and much less to take part in the so-called 'policy teams'.

This was a great surprise to Buchman, as the friendly relations he had maintained since 1948 with the Bishop of the Caux area, Monsignor Charrière, had led him to believe that the Catholic Church was taking a positive attitude to his action. But Charrière made it clear that the warning was a serious matter, although he arranged for priests to serve the Catholic chapel which is a part of the Caux assembly buildings.

As is its custom the Holy Office did not give any reasons for its action. Those of Buchman's many Catholic friends who made enquiries in Rome brought back a confirmation that the statement came from the highest authority on dogmatic matters and that there was no possibility of discussion. At the same time it was made clear to them that the warning did not amount to a condemnation, and, in fact, a stream of Catholics continued to arrive at Caux. Among them were distinguished theologians like Karl Adam, the Professor of Dogmatic Theology at Tübingen University, and Werner Schöllgen, Professor of Catholic Theology at the University of Bonn, both of whom recorded their favourable impressions. Professor Adam wrote in the Tübingen Theological Quarterly: 'It is not mere dreamers who have followed the movement which within thirty years has grown into a great world offensive, but prominent intellectuals, world-famous statesmen and politicians, big industrialists and workers' leaders, trade unionists, dockers and miners, men of all conditions from cabinet ministers to cooks. They all have one aim, to solve the toughest political, economic, social and cultural questions in the light of the Gospel. And it is amazing, it is wonderful, how, time after time, it is the simple, clear concepts of the Sermon on the Mount which throw light on the most involved political and economic problems. The four absolutes, the challenge to complete surrender to God, faith in the power of the Cross of Christ and the "quiet time" which Buchman urges, are basic elements of the Christian life, they are Christianity lived out. That is why Buchman's message is in its very core a Christian message. One can understand why the Catholic finds no new truths in Caux. But shaken to his roots, he has to admit that in Caux, Christianity has been more deeply understood and lived out than in many Catholic communities. In answer to the question "What has Caux to give Catholics?" Monsignor Eugène Fischer, Dean of the Cathedral of Strasbourg, replied, "The first thing that strikes us in Caux is the nagging of our conscience. I believe that outside the religious orders, there is no place on the face of the earth where so much prayer goes up." '41


Dr Adam wrote in 1952, while Professor Schöllgen devoted a chapter to Moral Re-Armament in his book Actuelle Moralprobleme 1955.42 And during this period Father Riccardo Lombardi, a Jesuit, felt free to invite Buchman to address a gathering of a hundred priests in Rome when he was launching his movement 'Per Il Mondo Migliore'. But the Holy Office eventually sent its warning to Nunciatures throughout the world and in December 1957 it was published in prime position on the front page of L'Osservatore Romano.43

The warning was a great embarrassment to Buchman. Although many Italians came to Caux, for example, he was not free to work in Italy for European reconciliation in the way he had done in France and Germany. De Gasperi, when Prime Minister, was prevented from visiting Caux by the doubts then dominant in the Holy Office. Also, some of the Roman Catholics who had worked closely with Buchman left him, although others were encouraged by their spiritual advisers to continue the work which had been their personal calling. Several cardinals and bishops who knew Buchman personally and had developed a trust in him let him know that they still trusted him. But he and his colleagues were perplexed by the Holy Office's ruling and still ignorant of the reasons behind it.

Count Lovera di Castiglione made strong representations to the Holy Office, with no effect. He also gave advice to Buchman and his colleagues which was heeded less than it should have been. For instance, he voiced cautions on the use of language. People in Moral Re-Armament sometimes lapsed into 'generalisations which make it seem as if MRA had started an activity which had never existed before and exists nowhere else today', he wrote. 'I know well the men of MRA and their pure intentions. Others, however, find their affirmations excessive, not quite just, and a demonstration of inborn presumption.'44


The reasons for the Holy Office's decision did finally become clear to Buchman, but only gradually. They were a combination of understandable pastoral concerns and one profound 'misunderstanding' - a word which Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, then Prefect of the Holy Office, himself later used.45

The Holy Office's concern in 1951, nearly a decade before Vatican II, was whether it might be dangerous to let Catholics and non-Catholics participate jointly in an action which drew upon the spiritual heritage of each. There was a fear that the differences between the heritages might be obliterated, leading to 'indifferentism', meaning 'the affirmation of the equal value of the various religious confessions which claim to originate from Christ'. 'We do not say that Moral Re-Armament teaches this equality of value,' wrote an observer in Rome, 'it breathes and lives it, which may be a more discreet method but is also a more effective way of unintentionally spreading it.'46 It therefore appeared dangerous to allow Catholics to participate.

'My friends and I offered facts which might allay this natural pastoral concern,' says Michel Sentis, a French Catholic working with Buchman. 'In practice, we said, Moral Re-Armament did not cause people to deny their spiritual heritage; on the contrary, it often led individuals to renew their loosened ties with their own church. The "conversions" of which Moral Re-Armament was the instrument were conversions within the religious confessions of the people concerned, or conversions from atheism. These facts were listened to with sympathy, but we were told that the Church would judge in the long term whether our optimistic view was justified.'

'There were a number of other criticisms, which could be summarised as concluding that non-Catholics in Moral Re-Armament had a mode of thought and spiritual conception which differed from the Catholic tradition,' continues Sentis. 'These criticisms, which were, of course, justified, seemed to us to reveal a lack of realism about the necessary dialogue between different Christian confessions. Rather than discouraging the Catholics working with Moral Re-Armament, we thought that the Church should try to clarify the issues for them, as certain bishops were already doing for members of their own dioceses.'

The 'misunderstanding' was more serious. As a result of distorted information, the Holy Office at that time had an inexact, indeed a totally mistaken, impression of the actual structure of Moral Re-Armament. It was convinced that behind the lack of organised framework which Buchman had always encouraged, there was a carefully concealed hierarchy similar to that of various secret societies it had encountered in the past. This view lay behind the prohibition against Catholics holding positions of responsibility; and it also gave rise to suspicions of duplicity which meant that all information proffered from Moral Re-Armament sources was received with distrust. Hence, for example, the evidence of Count Lovera di Castiglione was disregarded, since he was thought to have been duped.


The notion of Moral Re-Armament being a secret society with a hidden hierarchy had first been mooted, in a comparatively simple form, by a pamphlet issued in Paris in 1949 by a certain 'Michel Rovers', but had since become elaborated, on the evidence of an informant whom one official later described as having 'the soul of a traitor', into a more complicated form. It had grown to the point where the Holy Office believed that Moral Re-Armament was strictly organized into seven grades, ranging from 'the Founder' alone in grade one, 'the Policy Team of fourteen members' in grade two, 'the Central Team (sixty-two members') in grade three, 'the full-time workers (more than a thousand)' in grade four, 'the friends', 'the supporters' and 'the contacts' in grades five, six and seven respectively.

The existence of this misunderstanding only became known to Buchman and his friends after one of their number, a Catholic, summoned by an official of the Holy Office, was suddenly confronted with the question to which MRA 'grade' he belonged. Mystified, but remembering the example of St Paul, whom he tried limpingly to follow, he replied, 'The least of the least.' He was therefore classed as a mere 'contact' and encouraged to maintain his touch with Moral Re-Armament. He gathered from this talk a hint or two of where the misunderstanding lay, but the full meaning of his interview only became clear to him in 1958 when the fantastic story was set forth in one of five articles in the Jesuit fortnightly review, Civiltà Cattolica,47 by Father Prudenzio Damboriena, who had attacked Moral Re-Armament in the influential Monitor Ecclesiasticus48 during the previous year.

The difficulty experienced by sincere officials, who had only second-hand information, was to find a pigeon-hole into which the organism created by Buchman could be placed. Some priests, no doubt wishing to help, tried to identify it with purely secular bodies like Rotary or the Scout movement, and insisted that if Buchman promised never again to use religious language - the name of Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Cross of Christ, for example - all would be well. In Buchman's absence, conversations were held with Peter Howard. The record of one such conversation shows clearly that their attempt could not have led anywhere. One priest urged Howard to drop all religious terminology from Moral Re-Armament's statements. Howard said, 'If somebody comes to me and asks the places where I have changed, can I tell him?' 'Yes,' was the reply. 'If he then asks me where I find the power to break habits of sin, can I tell him "Christ"?' continued Howard. 'No, you are on no account to mention Christ. That is the point we are discussing.' Such a course was obviously out of the question.


At the same time as the Holy Office was making public its attitude in L'Osservatore Romano, a current of sympathy towards Moral Re- Armament was developing in some circles in Rome, which made itself felt very discreetly in order not to undermine the authority of the Holy Office. In particular the people working around Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini, Pro-Secretary of State to Pius XII who was himself to become Pope Paul VI, always welcomed news of Moral Re-Armament actions, and were eager to be kept informed.


 1 Martin, Asian account.

 2 Buchman, p. 161.

 3 ibid., pp. 46-7.

 4 ibid., p. 65.

 5 ibid., p. 198.

 6 Grogan, p. 140.

 7 Foreword to World Labour and Caux (Caux, February 1950).

 8 Mackinac transcripts, June 1952.

 9 Marcel, p. 113.

10 Piguet and Sentis: Ce Monde que Dieu nous confie (Centurion, 1979), p. 64.

11 ibid., p. 46.

12 Dan Hurley to Buchman, (undated) 1950. Late September, as he spoke at Caux on 10 September.

13 New York World-Telegram and Sun, 14 July 1953; similar reports in The Times, 6 July 1953, Daily Herald, 8 July 1953.

14 ICFTU Information Bulletin, Vol. IV, No. 18 (84), 15 September 1953.

15 George Woodcock, General Secretary of the TUC, to James Haworth, 28 April 1954; statement by Len Williams, National Agent and later General Secretary of the Labour Party {Eastern Standard, 2 April 1954).

16 Der Bund, 27 September 1953.

17 The New Leader, 15 February 1954.

18 The full story is told in Grogan, pp. 147-51.

19 Thornton-Duesbery, pp. 120-22, Appendix VII, Haworth: 'Moral Re-Armament for Socialists'.

20 ICFTU Press and Radio Service, 18 August 1966.

21 11 May 1952.

22 Coventry Evening Telegraph, 7 June 1952.

23 Letter from Revd G. Johnson Jeffrey, 20 May 1952.

24 Minutes of Social and Industrial Council, 19 November 1952.

25 ibid., 26 February 1953.

26 Minutes of Standing Committee, 13 May 1953.

27 ibid. and 2 July 1953.

28 Daily Telegraph, 13 and 21 January 1954.

29 Observations by Sir Lynden Macassey, QC, in Statement by the Council of Managementof the Oxford Group in regard to the method of making the Report on Moral Re-Armament adopted by the Social and Industrial Council (February 1955), pp. 24-30. It was Sir Lynden who had conducted an earlier investigation of the Oxford Group for the Bishop of London.

30 Archbishop Fisher to John Moncrieff, 22 and 26 January 1954.

31 Minutes of the Social and Industrial Council, 28 January 1954.

32 D. C. Grimshaw, Acting Secretary of the Oxford Group, to J. A. Guillam Scott, Secretary of the Social and Industrial Council, 17 February 1954.

33 J. A. Guillam Scott to Acting Secretary of Oxford Group, 22 February 1954.

34 ibid., 12 March and 12 April 1954.

35 Minutes of the Social and Industrial Council, 4 December 1954.

36 The Times, 16 February 1955.

37 Gerald Steel to Scott, 16 December 1954.

38 The Times, 17 February 1955.

39 ibid., 16 February 1955.

40 Buchman to Francis Woodlock, S.J., 23 October 1933.

41 Karl Adam writing in Tübingen Theological Quarterly, Spring edition 1952; reprinted Vaterland, Lucerne, 12 August 1952.

42 Werner Schöllgen: Aktuelle Moralprobleme (Patmos Verlag, September 1955).

43 L 'Osservatore Romano, 9-10 December 1957.

44 Count Carlo Lovera di Castiglione to Philippe Mottu, 18 November 1951.

45 Gabriel Marcel: En Chemin, vers quel éveil? (Editions Gallimard, 1971), pp. 170-71.

46 Mgr Leon-Joseph Suenens (then Auxiliary Bishop of Malines): Que penser du Réarmement moral (Editions Universitaires, 1953), p. 90.

47 Civiltà Cattolica, issues of 14 June, 12 July, 13 September, 25 October and 13 December 1958, Vol. II, pp. 570-84; Vol. III, pp. 143-56, 584-90; Vol. IV, pp. 260-72 and 623-34 respectively.

48 Monitor Ecclesiasticus (Rome, 1957), Series III, pp. 451-503.