The president of the Vatican’s council for interreligious dialogue says that politics can be a path to holiness, but that one has to enter public service without seeking anything in return.
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran made that reflection in his prologue to the new French edition of a book about Robert Schuman, considered a father of the European Union.
The French statesman’s “Schuman Declaration” was given May 9, 1950; his cause for canonization is already in Rome.
The cardinal’s prologue to the book by Rene Lejeune, “Robert Schuman père de l’Europe,” considers the question: “Can one be sanctified in the exercise of political responsibilities.” The cardinal’s response is positive.
“Robert Schuman is the very example of a Catholic whose vocation was to proclaim evangelical values by living them, without ostentation, but with a coherence that pulled others in. Contemplation nourished his action and his initiatives. He received from his faith a ‘catholic’ dimension that gave him a wide and innovative dimension on situations,” Cardinal Tauran observed.
“We need to convince ourselves of what service to the community implies,” he continued, “selflessness and perseverance. In the political realm, we need to rediscover the sense of respect for the opponent and the value of loyal dialogue. We need to remember that the only motive that justifies a man exercising any sort of power over another is service of the latter.”
He revealed Schuman’s secret: “Robert Schuman reminds us that great public and collective causes go beyond our personal destinies and require that we dedicate ourselves to them without ever demanding something in exchange. Therein lies the secret of harmony and serenity of a life as that of the Founder of Europe: in face of history’s convulsions, he was able to cultivate his interior garden, a bit like that of Scy-Chazelles [Robert Schuman’s home in Lorraine] to renew his courage and agree to go always farther in solidarity.”
In the context of post-War Europe, Schuman’s life also offers “inspiration and courage to serve a humanity that is finally free of fear and hatred,” Cardinal Tauran added, and that “renews the path of fraternity that knows no borders.”