Europe of values – Thoughts on Robert Schuman’s recognition by Pope Francis – The Weekly 59

While Europe has recently been engaged in endless skirmishes over its values on the stage of world politics, Pope Francis’ decree to recognize the heroic virtues of EU founding father Robert Schuman has almost gone unnoticed. The news was overshadowed by the vivid reports on the boisterous insults and outraged retorts, even though Schuman’s work is the first thing we should look at when we want to talk about European values. We should do so even if he, unfortunately, might not be the most popular figure on either side of the current war trenches. In fact, that’s exactly why we should look to him for inspiration now.

I’m sure we’ve all had that experience when you have been looking all over the place for an important document or other thing while it was lying right in the middle of the dining table. I’ve had that same feeling about Europe recently. 

I don’t think we have ever seen so many disputes and political skirmishes regarding the objectives of the European Union and the definition of its values. In the meantime, we have hardly talked about Pope Francis’ decree to recognize the heroic virtues of EU founding father Robert Schuman, which is the first step in a process that may lead to canonisation – provided that Schuman “meets” all the requirements.

We hardly noticed it, even though it should have given us enormous pride and it should have deserved an exclamation mark in the notebooks of all the people who care about Europe – regardless of their political views. Somehow we seem to have forgotten Schuman more and more over the nearly six decades that passed since his death. Of course, his picture is in the history books, we like to keep repeating some of his thoughts or cite them in EU brochures somewhat mechanically, and the intersection in front of the European Commission is also named after him – symbolically. Apart from the usual trains of thought however, we hardly mention him at all.

Robert Schuman’s life was always determined by the fact that he was born on the frontier between France and Germany, with the scenes of the major events in his life being passed from one hand to the other within a few decades, due to the animosity between the two nations.

He achieved his greatest successes as a post-war French politician with his idea that the two great enemies, France and Germany must be reconciled, and this reconciliation must become the foundation for building a new Europe whose nations could finally live in harmony, safety and liberty.

He started working on the implementation of his plan, in spite of the many grievances people must have been harbouring on all sides just a few years after the cataclysm. Schuman however, as a man of deep Christian faith, decided not to choose the path of grievance politics. That’s why we now live in a Europe that is one of the happiest and safest places in the world, despite all of its faults and shortcomings.

The question is: will we be able to live up to this legacy when we need an Argentinian-born pope to call our attention to something that has always been right in front of our eyes – while politicians spout on about the values Europe should represent? Of course, Schuman’s legacy is hard to live up to.

He envisioned a socially sensitive Europe that relies on Christian values and respects the legacies of its nations.

In contrast, today’s Europe seems to be characterized by two irreconcilable camps facing each other. One side talks about rights and democracy, while constantly forgetting the reason why it was our continent that first gave rise to such values as the respect for human rights, democracy or diversity: because there was a Christian philosophy and a national diversity to serve as the foundation for them. In the meantime, the politicians of the other side keep blaring about defending Christianity and national values – forgetting that Christianity involves the tolerance and respect for others, while our nations will have no future if we fail to cooperate. If we remain disunited, we will fall.

I hope we will recognize our true values in time, especially if they are right in front of our eyes. That’s what I strive for as a member of the European Parliament. - JOBBIK MEP MÁRTON GYÖNGYÖSI Europe of values – Thoughts on Robert Schuman’s recognition by Pope Francis – The Weekly 59 - Gyöngyösi Márton (