VATICAN CITY, MARCH 3, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The cause of beatification of Robert Schuman, one of the founding fathers of a united Europe, is in its final stages.
Archbishop André Lacrampe of Besançon confirmed this in the wake of an audience granted to him and other bishops of eastern France last Friday by John Paul II. The bishops were ending their five-yearly visit to Rome.
In his address to the Pope, the archbishop said: “We must be present in the great debates that are taking place in our country and on the future of Europe, contributing to give a soul to the Continent, as Robert Schuman would have wished, whose process of beatification will be concluded very soon.”
Vatican sources quoted by the Swiss Catholic agency APIC said the Holy Father might beatify Schuman in a possible visit to Strasbourg, France, next September.
Pat Cox, president of the European Parliament, officially invited John Paul II to visit the assembly during an audience last year.
Robert Schuman (1886-1963) was the first French parliamentarian arrested by the Gestapo during World War II. He later joined the Resistance.
After the war, Schuman was appointed president of the council (1947) and Foreign Affairs Minister (1948-1952). He was one of the authors of the May 9, 1950, declaration, the basis for European construction. In 1958-1960, Schuman was the first president of the European Parliament.
John Paul II has presented Schuman on several occasions as a model for Christian politicians, particularly when the Pope visited Strasbourg in 1988.
When the Holy Father received the participants of a seminar organized by the Robert Schuman Foundation last Nov. 7, he highlighted the figure of the promoters of European unification: Schuman, Konrad Adenauer and Alcide de Gasperi, men “inspired by a profound Christian faith.”