The Sunday Telegraph

Pope elevates Schuman, ‘heroic’ founding father of the EU, to fast track for sainthood

- By James Crisp EUROPE EDITOR

ONE of the founding fathers of the European Union was put on the path to sainthood by Pope Francis yesterday.

Robert Schuman, who called for a supranatio­nal community for coal and steel in 1950, was recognised for his “heroic virtues”, the Vatican said.

Schuman said co-operation on coal and steel, especially involving France and Germany, would make future wars impossible. The Schuman Plan led to the European Economic Community in 1957, which evolved into the EU in 1993.

Along with Italy’s Alcide de Gasperi, France’s Jean Monnet and Germany’s Konrad Adenauer, Schuman is considered one of the “Fathers of Europe”.

The devout Catholic, a French prime minister and foreign minister in the aftermath of the Second World War, is credited with breaking the cycle of conflict and also helped found Nato.

Papal recognitio­n is an early stage in the canonisati­on process. Schuman, who died in 1963 and now has the title of “venerable”, can only become a saint if two miracles are attributed to him.

The Catholic Church teaches that only God performs miracles but that saints in Heaven intercede on behalf of people who pray to them.

A miracle is usually the medically inexplicab­le healing of a person. “Behind the action of the public man there was the interiorit­y of the man who lived the sacraments, who, when he could, would take to an abbey, who would reflect on the sacred Word before finding the shape of his political words,” the Vatican said.

Pope Francis praised Schuman’s legacy last year on the 70th anniversar­y of a May 9 landmark speech, the Schuman Declaratio­n, which set out his plan.

Born in Luxembourg in 1886 to a Luxembourg mother and a French father in an area annexed by Germany, he was a German citizen at birth. After the First World War, when the area was returned to France, Schuman became a French citizen. The France-based Institut Saint Benoît has been promoting sainthood for Schuman for several decades.

‘Behind the action of the public man there was the interiorit­y of the man who lived the sacraments’

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