Robert Schuman Nearing Beatification, Exemplified Faith and Politics

The Man Who Made Possible the EU Might Soon Be a Saint

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ROME, MAY 16, 2003 ( As former head of the French government, minister, and first president of the European Parliament, Robert Schuman’s process for beatification offers testimony to a politician’s exemplary life.

Robert Schuman (1886-1963), the man who made possible the birth of the European Union, might soon be a saint. Jacques Paragon, the postulator of the cause of beatification, announced on May 15, that the diocesan investigation of the cause of beatification is due to conclude, possibly this year.

Schuman, head of the French government, minister, and author of the May 9, 1950 Declaration — providing the basis for European construction — was able to open a new way in international relations based on political negotiation.

He was the first president of the European Parliament from 1958-1969. Pope Paul VI described him as «an indefatigable pioneer of European unity.»

According to Paragon, «for the father of Europe, Catholicism was not only a faith but a social doctrine,» a conviction that very much influenced his political work, «which he understood as a prolongation of his apostolate.»

«His double Franco-German culture is key to understanding his whole view on Europe, on reconciliation and European union,» Paragon noted, secretary general of the ‘Institut Saint-Benoit,’ created to promote Robert Schuman’s cause of beatification.

Jacques Paragon, who was one of Schuman’s collaborators, commented on the latter’s «anti-militarist» character and said that his involvement in political life was a «response to an interior vocation.»

Paragon mentioned the book by Rene Lejeune, president of the ‘Institut,’ whose title evokes the central message of the Father of Europe: «Robert Schuman, Father of Europe: Politics, a Way of Holiness.»

In a talk at the St. Louis Center for the French, Paragon summed up this holy man’s captivation: «his life shows that political activity is compatible with fidelity to Christian values.»

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