Pavan, Cardinal Pietro

Born on 30 August 1903, Pietro Pavan was ordained to the priesthood on 8 July 1928.

He studied theology, philosophy and economics in Padua and Rome and was appointed as an adviser to the Istituto Cattolico per le Attività Sociali in 1946.

From 1948, he taught at the Pontifical Lateran University.

He was a member of the preparatory teams for the World Congresses on Lay Apostolate in 1951 and 1957.

Pope Pius XII also appointed him as ecclesiastical adviser to the COPECIAL, the Permanent Committee for International Lay Apostolate Congresses.

It was during this period that he came to know Cardijn very well.

Pavan became a proponent of specialised Catholic Action and the Cardijn method, which he presented in his 1954 book published in French as Apostolat des laïcs dans le monde moderne, Chapter IV of which presents the see, judge, act method.

"L'expérience nous atteste qu'une telle formation ne peut être efficacement donnée que par l'action," Fr Pavan wrote.

"Experience shows that such a (lay apostolate) formation can only be effectively given through action."

When Cardijn suggested to John XXIII that he write an encyclical to mark the 70th anniversary of Rerum Novarum in 1961, Cardijn sent a copy of his notes to Fr Pavan, who was one of the key drafters of the encyclical, Mater et Magistra which incorporated reference to the see,judge act method in §236.

Fr Pavan was also a key drafter of Pope John's 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris, which made reference to the need to read the signs of the times.
Pope John Paul II made him a cardinal on 25 May 1985.

Fr Pavan was also a peritus at Vatican II, playing a significant role in the drafting of several conciliar documents.

He died on 26 December 1994.


Pietro Pavan, Apostolat des laïcs dans le monde moderne, Les Presses Universitaires Laval, 1954.

Franco Biffi (Translated and abridged by Rosemary Goldie), Prophet of our times, The social thought of Cardinal Pietro Pavan, New City Press, New Rochelle, NY, 1992.