Pope 'to beatify' late French prime minister

1st March 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 1 (AFP) - Pope John Paul II hopes to use a visit to France later this year to beatify Robert Schuman, the late French prime minister widely revered as the architect of Europe's post-war reconciliation, a French newspaper reported Monday.

PARIS, March 1 (AFP) - Pope John Paul II hopes to use a visit to France later this year to beatify Robert Schuman, the late French prime minister widely revered as the architect of Europe's post-war reconciliation, a French newspaper reported Monday.

A report on Schuman's candidacy drawn up by the Catholic church in France will be dispatched shortly to Rome, where the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has been told to process it in time for the pope's French trip in September, Le Figaro newspaper said.

The pope communicated his desire in a meeting with three French bishops in the Vatican on Friday, the paper said.

"A group of admirers of Schuman has been pressing for his beatification for the last ten years," confirmed Jean-Dominique Giuliani who heads the Robert Schuman Foundation in Paris.

"He was a practising and engaged Christian and the argument of the church is that he was a visionary statesman precisely because he was a Christian," Giuliani told AFP.

Born in Luxembourg in 1886, Schuman was France's foreign minister when he delivered a seminal address in 1950 calling for an end to nationalism in Europe and the creation of a Franco-German coal and steel community. This was the first step to the modern European Union.

Schuman died in 1963, shortly after the signing of the Elysee treaty that sealed the new alliance between France and Germany.

Under the Vatican's rules on sainthood, a member of the church can be beatified - counted among the blessed in heaven - if study reveals their life to have been heroically virtuous and if at least one miracle can be shown to have taken place thanks to their intercession.

The next step in the process towards full sainthood - canonisation - requires more evidence of miracles. In 2003 the pope beatified 21 people, including Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

The pope's interest in Schuman confirms his determination not to allow Europe's Christian heritage to be overlooked as it expands this year to take in ten new member states, including his native Poland. He has been actively pressing for a reference to Christianity in the EU's proposed constitution.
© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

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