Short history of FEAMC and FIAMC – European and International Federations of the Catholic Medical Associations
by dr François Blin, Secretary General of FIAMC (1998-2006), President of FEAMC (2006-2014)
We can distinguish three periods in the history of the international movement of Catholic doctors.
The first period is mostly French.
The creation of the “Medical Society St. Luke, St. Cosmas and St. Damian” by a surgeon in Le Mans in 1884, following the appeal of Leo XIII, is a reference for the entire Catholic medical movement. This association expands rapidly: 500 members in 1888, 1,000 in 1907 and 1,500 in 1927. Other Catholic Medical Associations emerge: USA in 1912, Portugal in 1915, Belgium in 1922, then Germany, Austria, Denmark, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, and on other continents (Argentina, China, Tunisia). In 1924, Octave Pasteau, physician in Paris, and president of St. Luke Society from 1922 to 1939, organizes under the influence of Pius XI, a “Central Secretariat of the National Societies of Catholic Doctors“
The second period is mostly European.
Congresses take place in:
• Budapest 1930,
• Paris 1934,
• Brussels 1935 (1st International Congress): delegates come from Europe, United States, Colombia, and Chile.
• Vienna 1936 (2nd International Congress)
• Lisbon 1947 (3rd International Congress): delegates come from Europe, Brazil, Canada, and Chile.
• Rome 1949 (4th International Congress). A second secretariat, affiliated to Pax Romana (where there are also secretariats of writers, scientists, chemists, engineers, lawyers …), is created and lasts until 1962.
• Paris 1951 (5th International Congress). The two secretariats merge. The decision is made to create an International Federation. Luigi Gedda (Italy) is elected President, and remains in office until 1966
• Dublin 1954 (6th International Congress): delegates come from Europe, and United States, India, Japan, and Mexico.
• The Hague 1956 (7th International Congress). Delegates come from Europe and the United States.
• Brussels 1958 (8th International Congress). 3 000 participants come from 7 different health professions and more than 40 countries. Delegates from Asia (Japan, Philippines, and Viet Nam) decide to create an Asian Federation (the 1st Congress takes place in Manila in 1960).
• Munich 1960 (9th International Congress). 400 participants come from 24 countries (including Philippines, and Vietnam
• London 1962 (10th International Congress). 700 participants come from 34 countries on all continents, including Africa (Nigeria, Tanganyika, Zimbabwe), Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines), and Oceania (Australia, New Zealand). The International Congress will now take place every four years. A working group “Europe” is created, and chaired by Jean Lereboullet (France).
• Malta 1964 (First European Congress). 400 participants come from 20 countries, including Germany (FRG), Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Great Britain, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, but also Australia, and USA. Jean Lereboullet is elected president, and remains in office until 1980.
The third period is world-wide.
It begins in 1966 by the Congress in Manila (Philippines), where the statutes of FIAMC are voted. From then on the International Congresses are held on all continent where there are organizations of Catholic Doctors: Washington in 1970, Barcelona in 1974, Bombay in 1978, Rome in 1982, Buenos-Aires in 1986, Bonn in 1990, Porto in 1994, New York in 1998, Seoul in 2002, Barcelona in 2006, and Lourdes in 2010.
Activities are organized on the different continents:
• FEAMC has its first statutory meeting in 1971, then a Congress every 4 years: Nuremberg in 1972, London in 1976, Brussels in 1980, Lisbon in 1984, Versailles in 1988, Venice in 1992, Prague in 1996, Rome for the Jubilee Year 2000 (in conjunction with the Congress of AMCI, and an extraordinary congress of FIAMC), Bratislava in 2004, and Gdansk in 2008. The fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 allows the associations of eastern european countries to become active (as evidenced by the Congresses of Prague, Bratislava and Gdansk). FEAMC currently includes 22 countries and is the largest continental federation.
• AFCMA (Asiatic Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations) is created in 1958. The International Congresses in Manila in 1966, Bombay in 1978, and Seoul in 2002, testify to its activity. Are currently members the associations of twelve countries (Korea, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Thailand), and it has links with the Australian Federation.
• FAMCLAM (Federacion de Asociaciones Médicas Latino-Americanas Catolica) was created several decades ago too. Some associations already existed before last world war (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela …). Are now members the associations from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Rep., and Uruguay,
• In Africa, ten countries (Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Madagascar) had – for a variable period – an association of Catholic doctors member of FIAMC, but the sustainability of these associations has been conditioned by the problems of political stability.
• In North America, until recently, existed only the CMA (Catholic Medical Association), founded in 1932, which involved up to 10,000 doctors, not only from the USA, but also from Canada, and Puerto Rico. A Canadian association in Manitoba existed until about 1998. A new Canadian Federation of Associations has just been established, and includes today several Canadian states. There is also (at least since 1990) an english language association in Jamaica.
• In Australia, there are Catholic Medical Associations in several states. An Association existed in New Zealand until 1998.