An architect of European unity advances on the path to holiness

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VATICAN CITY (AP) – Robert Schuman, a French statesman who paved the way for the bloc that eventually evolved into the European Union, has advanced on the Catholic Church’s path to eventual holiness.

The Vatican said Pope Francis approved a decree on Saturday declaring the “heroic virtues” of Schuman, France’s former prime minister, finance minister and foreign minister after World War II. In 1950, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, he drew up a plan to promote European economic unity in the hope of promoting peace.

Schuman died in 1963 after having been the first president of the predecessor of the European Parliament.

The pope’s decision means that Schuman can be called “venerable” by the Catholic faithful. This is one of the many steps in a generally long process that can lead to holiness.

The European Commission website describes Schuman as “one of the founding fathers of European unity”, hailing him as “the architect of the European integration project”.

The Vatican described Schuman as a man of the Catholic faith.

“Behind the action of the public man, there was the interiority of the man who lived the sacraments, who, when he could, went to an abbey, who reflected on the sacred Word before finding the form. of his political words. It said.

Born in Luxembourg in 1886 to a Luxembourg mother and a French father in an area annexed to Germany, he was of German nationality. After World War I, when the area was returned to France, Schuman became a French citizen.

Lawyer and member of the French National Assembly, Schuman was arrested in 1940 by the German Gestapo after the German occupation of France, but escaped in 1942. The biography of the European Commission of him describes his activity. in the French Resistance.

After the war, Schuman was Minister of Finance, Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Justice.

On May 9, 1950, Schuman gave a speech calling for cooperation among European nations to help converge their economic interests. Such cooperation, notably involving France and Germany, he argued, would make another war on the continent both unthinkable and impossible.

His plan contributed to the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community of 1952, precursor of the Common Market formed in 1958.

Last year, noting the 70th anniversary of his speech, known as the Schuman Declaration, Francois praised the statesman’s legacy. François said that from that point on there was “a long period of stability and peace that we enjoy today”.

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