Pope Francis wears a face mask during ceremony in Rome
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Pope Francis issued a decree recognising Robert Schuman, one of the “fathers” of the EU, “the heroic virtues of the serf of God” thus opening the way to beatification which could be followed by sanctification.
It is the first time since Saint-Louis that a politician has this honour.
For French MEP François-Xavier Bellamy, the Vatican’s decision to open the way for a beautification of Mr Schuman, “is a way of linking European construction to its civilisational roots”.
But for Generation Frexit’s `Eric Noirez, it is yet another “episode of eurofanatism”.
He said: “New episode of eurofanatism: Pope Francis grants Robert Schuman ‘the heroic virtues of the serf of God’.
“He should thus be beatified and perhaps even sanctified.
“No politician has had this honour since…Saint-Louis. Help.”
Mr Schuman’s work was instrumental in the founding of today’s European institutions, such as the European Union.
Mr Schuman, who served as French prime minister and foreign minister in the immediate post-World War II period, also played a role in the founding of NATO.
In 1950, the “Schuman Plan” proposed a supranational community for coal and steel.
It evolved to become the European Economic Community in 1957 and the European Union in 1993.
Along with Italy’s Alcide de Gasperi, France’s Jean Monnet and Germany’s Konrad Adenauer, he is considered one of the “Fathers of Europe” for promoting democratic, supranational principles to thwart the possibility of another war on the continent.
A devout Catholic, Mr Schuman’s role in trying to break the cycle of wars in Europe has been praised by several popes.
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A Vatican statement said the Pope approved a decree recognising the “heroic virtues” of Schuman, who died in 1963.
Recognition is one of the earliest stages of the long process that can lead to canonisation.
Pope Francis’ approval of the decree means Mr Schuman now has the title “venerable”.
One miracle would have to be attributed to Mr Schuman for him to be beatified and then another for him to be made a saint.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that only God performs miracles, but that saints who are believed to be with God in heaven intercede on behalf of people who pray to them.
A miracle is usually the medically inexplicable healing of a person.
The France-based Institute Saint Benoit has been promoting sainthood for Mr Schuman for several decades.
Its theologians and historians heard witnesses and examined all of his writing for documentation that was sent to the Vatican and that resulted in the Pope’s decree.
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