Willem Visser’t Hooft on Pierre Maury


Willem Visser’t Hooft (above on the front cover of Time magazine in December 1961) says of his significant friendship with Pierre Maury:

Of the men and women with whom I worked over the years none had a deeper influence on me than Pierre Maury . . . For us, as for so many others, Pierre Maury became the pastoral friend and the friendly pastor. He saw my weaknesses and did not spare his criticisms, but he saw more in me than I saw in myself, and so he gave me courage to do things which I would not have done without him . . . This man combined in a unique way the deep passion for the discovery of the great objective divine truth with an equally deep interest in persons and in all manifestations of human life.[1)

Karl Barth’s own testimony concerning what Pierre Maury brought to their friendship is striking not just for the intellectual stimulus but for the warmth of his personality. Maury was that kind of person.[2]

[1]. Visser’t Hooft was the first General Secretary of the World Council of Churches from its foundation until his retirement in 1966. (Visser’t Hooft, W. A. Memoirs. London: SCM, 1973, p36).

[2]. Suzanne de Dietrich wrote of Maury and Visser’t Hooft, “For three years they shared the same office . . . This partnership between an expansive Southern Frenchman and a reserved tenacious Dutchman must have been very amusing at times” (Dietrich, Suzanne de. 50 ans d’histoire: la fédération universelle des associations chrétiennes d’étudiants, 1895–1945. Paris: Editions du Semeur, 1945, p90).

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