Troubled times: Remembering Venerable Schuman as a visionary “Father of Europe”

Robaird O’Cearbhaill
Hong Kong Correspondent

The Russian invasion undermining the European sense of military and national security reminds us that the concept of a stable, modern Europe may not have been concretized if the founder, Robert Schuman, had not laid out the plans for a supranational association, as he deemed it, that became the European Union.

   Pope Francis decreed Robert Schuman as “venerable” last year, which could result in his beatification and the potential declaration of sainthood. Schuman was named the “Father of Europe” after he retired from office as the first president of the predecessor of the European Parliament. The title was given because he was the founder of the European Union (EU), the Council of Europe and one of the founders of NATO.

    Last year, on the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, the first major step towards post-WWII long-lasting peace, Pope Francis said it had led to “the long period of stability and peace (in Europe) from which we benefit today”. This was the day that the Pope declared Schuman was spiritually venerable, a step on the way towards beatification, when a miracle is attributed to prayers to the venerable person after their death. The next major step after being named “blessed” is the canonization of the beatified individual.

    Schuman said in 1949, in Strasbourg, about the supranational association potential – which was achieved in the EU and NATO – that: “We are carrying out a great experiment, the future of the recurrent dream that for ten centuries has revisited the peoples of Europe: creating between them an organization putting an end to war and guaranteeing an eternal peace. The Roman church of the Middle Ages failed finally in its attempts that were inspired by humane and human preoccupations”.

   He added that: “The European spirit signifies being conscious of belonging to a cultural family and to have a willingness to serve that community in the spirit of total mutuality, without any of the hidden motives of hegemony or the selfish exploitation of others”.

Shuman also said that we “must attempt and succeed in reconciling nations in a supranational association. This would safeguard the diversities and aspirations of each nation while coordinating them in the same manner as the regions are coordinated within the unity of a nation”.

    The European supranational association began as an economic, industrial union between: “Six founding members – France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands” and “signed the Treaty of Paris, creating the European Coal and Steel Community. It evolved in 1957 to become the European Economic Community and finally the European Union, in 1993”, as the BBC and Reuters reports on the Pope’s “venerable” decree, explained.

   The BBC and Reuters reports said: “Several popes have praised the role that Schuman, who was a devout Catholic, played in trying to break the cycle of wars in Europe”. (Photo: Vatican News)