The New European: Can politicians really be saints?

While ministerial sins make headlines here, ‘father of the EU’ Robert Schuman is on the path to canonisation.

The founding father of the European Union may soon be getting a halo.

Robert Schuman was the Luxembourg-born French statesman who founded the Council of Europe and masterminded the post-war plan for a single European steel and coal authority.

It laid the foundations for the 1957 Treaty of Rome and the European Economic Community that was established the following year, and Schuman became the first president of the European parliament.

Last month, Pope Francis recognised Schuman’s “heroic virtues”, bestowing on the privately but devoutly Catholic politician the title ‘Venerable’, the first of the three stages towards full sainthood.

The Schuman Declaration, delivered on May 9, 1950 – the date Europe Day is now celebrated – was intended to tie together Germany and France’s essential resources for armaments manufacture and therefore make any future conflict between the major European powers “not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible”.

Schuman had seen the ravages of the war first hand and for all its apparent mundanity, a plan focussed on coal and steel was in fact a mission for universal brotherhood…

The New European, 1 July 2021, p. 23.

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