Thursday

17th Jan 2019

'EU saint' waiting for a miracle

  • Schuman memorial stone outside the main EU commission building in Brussels (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

With EU personalities over the weekend speaking out on the occasion of Schuman Day, Robert Schuman himself, an early architect of the Union, has hit a hurdle on his way to becoming a Roman Catholic saint due to the lack of a miracle.

Schuman, a former French foreign minister, who declared on 9 May 1950 that France and Germany should link up their coal and steel industries, was in 1960 dubbed a "founding father" of the Union by the European Parliament in a title recalling the "fathers" of the Catholic church such as St Augustine and St Gregory.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The Institut Saint-Benoit, a foundation in Montingy-les-Metz, France, where Schuman spent much of his life, was set up in 1988 to promote his candidacy for sainthood.

According to its literature, the foundation believes that Schuman is an "exemplary Christian" both in terms of his personal life and the "holiness of his politics" in seeking to prevent another World War II-type conflict in Europe.

The Vatican has been looking into his eligibility for 21 years. But despite abundant material testifying to his piety and good works, the Schuman dossier has hit a major stumbling block.

"I even asked him [Pope John Paul II] myself on this point ... and he answered clearly that in the case of a politician, it is necessary to proceed with great rigour and to demand a miracle," Pierre Raffin, the Bishop of Metz, wrote in a letter in 2004 forwarded to EUobserver by his office.

When asked if the situation had changed under Pope Benedict XVI or if any new information had come to light, a contact in the Vatican's embassy to the EU in Brussels said: "We are still waiting for a miracle. One miracle is required for beatification and two for sainthood."

The leaders of the three main EU institutions - Jose-Manuel Barroso, Jerzy Buzek and Herman Van Rompuy, all Christian democrats - on 1 May in Rome attended the beatification of John Paul II, who is said to have healed a French nun with Parkinson's disease.

Van Rompuy's spokesman told this website that John Paul II made a "historic contribution" to post-Cold War European reunification. But the three men kept their visit low key, with no official statements or photos.

For her part, Johanna Touzel, a spokeswoman for Comece, a Brussels-based liaison bureau between the Catholic church and the EU institutions, said "it has certainly helped" in past relations that the three top men in the EU capital are Christians.

Touzel added that EU citizens who are Muslims or Jews should not feel alienated by any celebration of Christian EU 'fathers.'

"Recognising the Christian roots of Europe doesn't mean to close up to other heritages, inputs and evolutions. It simply means to recognise that the universal vocation of the European project is rooted in one major source: the Christian message, which after centuries has been translated into policies," she said.

She cited examples such as "the Judaeo-Christian concept of human dignity" which the EU now calls "human rights" and "care for the weakest" which the EU now calls "solidarity."

Others were more wary, however.

A tour guide at the European Robert Schuman Centre in Scy-Chazelles, France, told EUobserver that some Muslim teenagers refuse to go into its museum because of the numerous Catholic references.

Rabbi David Rosen, a leading Jewish commentator, said: "Europe has a Judaeo-Christian heritage - this is simply historic truth. However in places, Europe already had an Abrahamic (Jewish-Christian-Muslim) heritage - specifically in the Austro-Hungarian empire and the Balkans. The reality today is that Europe is substantially Abrahamic and those who exclude Islam are doing a disservice to themselves as well as to Muslims."

The EU leaders' messages on Schuman Day echoed some of the themes and vocabulary surrounding Schuman's Christian identity.

Van Rompuy voiced openness toward Arab revolutionaries in the context of popular fears about immigration and terrorism, saying "this [the Arab spring] has nothing to do with extremism."

Buzek said the EU needs to "reach our hand to those who share our dreams, but who have not been on the winning side of history" naming Belarus, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria. Barroso called Schuman a "visionary pragmatist" and said "we owe it to him and the other founding fathers" to keep the EU going despite recent crises.

Looking from the outside in, US secretary of state Hilary Clinton underlined Western mores as the basis of the EU-US alliance, saying: "We share a commitment to the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, respect for the rule of law and human rights."

German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Germany's domestic spy agency, the BfV, is to start monitoring the far-right AfD party in a move endorsed by the government, but decried as a witch-hunt by the party's leaders.

EU warns Romania over corruption amnesty

Juncker warned Romania's government not to move ahead with plans to grant amnesty for corruption, as more than 200 EU laws await decisions during Bucharest's presidency.

Romania mired in corruption woes as presidency begins

With the country's de facto leader filing a lawsuit at the EU's top court over report accusing him of corruption, and concerns of the country's rule of law, Romania's EU presidency kicked off in Bucharest to a rocky start.

News in Brief

  1. Another referendum 'would take a year', Downing St says
  2. 82-year old Berlusconi to run in EU elections
  3. EU parliament votes to triple funds for democracy promotion
  4. EU parliament backs linking budget payments to rule of law
  5. Verhofstadt voted for Draghi amendment 'by mistake'
  6. 'Plan B' Brexit vote in UK parliament set for 29 January
  7. Verhofstadt wanted Draghi out of G30 group
  8. Putin heads to Serbia amid warnings against West

Opinion

EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  2. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  3. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  4. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  5. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  6. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  7. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  8. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us