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'Father of Europe' Robert Schuman on course for Sainthood

by Donna Birrell

Pope Francis has put Robert Schuman, who paved the way for the founding of the European Union, on the path to sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.

In a statement, the Vatican says the Pope approved a decree recognizing the "heroic virtues" of the French statesman :

"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.''

Robert Schuman who was a devout Catholic, died in 1963 at the age of 77. 

In the post-war period, Schuman served as France's prime minister and foreign minister. In 1950, he suggested that coal and steel resources should be pooled between European countries in order to avoid conflicts. This became known as the “ Schuman Declaration” and it is marked annually on 9th May as Europe Day.

Six founding members - France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - signed the Treaty of Paris, creating the European Coal and Steel Community. It evolved to become the European Economic Community and finally the European Union, in 1993.

Robert Schuman also played a key role in founding Nato, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949. 

The pope's approval of the decree means Schuman now has the title "venerable." 

One miracle would have to be attributed to Schuman for him to be beatified and then another for him to become a saint.

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