Cornelio Sommaruga has been elected president of the Swiss Foundation for Moral Re-Armament. A former Swiss diplomat, Sommaruga stepped down last year as president of the International Committee of the Red Cross after leading the movement since 1987.This content was published on January 24, 2000 - 16:29
Cornelio Sommaruga has been elected president of the Swiss Foundation for Moral Re-Armament, or MRA. A former Swiss diplomat, Sommaruga, who is from Italian-speaking canton Ticino, stepped down at the end of last year as president of the International Committee of the Red Cross after leading the movement since 1987.
While ICRC president, he distinguished himself by his outspokenness against human rights abuses and what he saw as the alarming deterioration of humanitarian values worldwide.
The Moral Re-Armament Movement goes back to 1938 when Frank Buchman, an American Lutheran pastor of Swiss origin, felt the need to strengthen moral and spiritual values as an answer to the military rearmament taking place in pre-war Europe. His approach was to encourage sympathizers to first improve their own spiritual awareness, and then do what they could to promote moral values within society at large.
Today, MRA is a worldwide, non-denominational movement financed by donations.
Cornelio Sommaruga says he has shared the aims and goals of Moral Re-Armament for a long time. He has also been an active participant in MRA conferences held in Switzerland. He takes up his new post in the spring.
Sommaruga told Swiss Radio International that his presidency of the MRA Foundation will be synergetic, since the aims of Moral Re-Armament and those of the ICRC are similar, and that he welcomes the new opportunity to promote the globalization of humanitarian values.
The Swiss Foundation for Moral Re-Armament owns and operates the Caux Centre above Montreux on the Lake of Geneva. This is a former hotel where MRA holds international conferences, which attract leading personalities from many fields including science, diplomacy and politics, theology, and the arts.
It was at Caux that the first post-war meetings between Germans and other Europeans took place in an early effort to encourage dialogue and rebuild personal and social ties on the war-torn continent.
by Bob Zanotti
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