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“Monsieur Europe” on way to beatification?

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Rome/ Vienna. June 24, 2021

by Edward Steen, Sec-Gen  

Robert Schuman, credited with much of the post-1945 groundwork for the creation of the European Community, is one step closer to sainthood, reports Vatican News.

Schuman in 1929 – seeing the future

Pope Francis has approved a decree recognising the French statesman’s “heroic virtues” and declaring him “venerable”, the first step on the way to possible canonisation. “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.

It goes without saying – even if many seem unaware of it – that Catholic social doctrine, notably Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum of 1891 and its key concept of subsidiarity are at the basis of the modern idea “Europe”. Rerum Novarum was the Catholic church’s attempt to reconcile itself with the modern world of capital and labour.

What has all too often frustrated its ambitions, and Schuman’s,  has been the obdurate popularity of the nation-state, historically a recent development. And nationalism, as Schuman feared, has often blocked the European spirit he described in a famous speech in Strasbourg on May 16, 1949. It signified, he said, “being 

Leo XIII 1891 – understanding modernity

conscious of belonging to a cultural family and to have a willingness to serve that community in the spirit of total mutuality, without any hidden motives of hegemony or the selfish exploitation of others.

“The 19th century saw feudal ideas being opposed and, with the rise of a national spirit, nationalities asserting themselves. Our century, that has witnessed the catastrophes resulting in the unending clash of nationalities and nationalisms, 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 the nation.”


1950 Schuman Declaration

Robert Schuman 1886 – 1963

Rerum Novarum

What is subsidiarity, anyway?  EU legal definition

European Parliament’s explanation

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