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Robert Schuman, one of the founding fathers of the European Union and a devout but discreet Catholic, will soon take the first step towards sainthood. Archbishop Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, has claimed Pope Francis could recognise the Frenchman’s “heroic virtues” as early as June. This recognition that he led a holy life is a key step towards beatification, although that requires the attribution of a miracle.
A second miracle validated by the Vatican is needed before he can become a saint.
The process of elevating Mr Schuman towards sainthood began more than 30 years ago, launched by the diocese of Metz where he died in 1963.
The politician’s elevation may surprise some, but Father Bernard Ardura, who is in charge of French canonisations in Rome, defended his candidacy.
He told AFP: “Schuman dedicated his life to serving the common good, seeking peace and reconciliation with Germany to create a community of European states.
“Schuman’s work involved putting an end to the infernal cycle of war, the humiliating defeat, the desire for revenge and more war which began when France was beaten by the Prussians in 1870.
“It was the work of a Christian, which serves as an example.”
Mr Schuman, a Christian democrat, was France’s Foreign Minister when in 1950, five years after the end of World War 2, he unveiled proposals for an economic union between former enemies France and West Germany.
EU dubbed ‘CIA project’ after Robert Schuman treated as ‘hired hand’ by US government
It became known as the Schuman Declaration and as the basis of what is now the European Union.
Not many people know, though, that Mr Schuman had little to do with the Declaration.
According to declassified American government documents, the Declaration was actually “cooked up” by former US Secretary of State Dean Acheson at a meeting in Foggy Bottom.
Mr Schuman’s chief of staff said: “It all began in Washington.”
In a 2000 report, journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard uncovered the secret plot, which saw US spies directly funding the European project in the Fifties.
The documents, found by Joshua Paul, a researcher at Georgetown University in Washington, revealed an extensive network of people in the US intelligence community worked aggressively to establish a European power.
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Robert Schuman was one of the founding fathers of the EU
They also “confirm suspicions voiced at the time that America was pushing Britain into a European state”.
For example, one paper, dated July 25, 1950, gives instruction for a campaign to promote a fully fledged European Parliament.
It was signed by Gen William J Donovan, head of the American wartime Office of Strategic Services, the CIA’s precursor.
Mr Pritchard’s report claims that Washington’s main tool for shaping the European agenda was the American Committee for a United Europe (ACUE).
It was created in 1948 and with Mr Donovan as chairman.
The vice-chairman was reportedly Allen Dulles, the CIA director in the Fifties and the board included Walter Bedell Smith, the CIA’s first director, and a roster of ex-OSS figures and officials who moved in and out of the CIA.
The Daily Telegraph report reads: “The documents show that ACUE financed the European Movement, the most important federalist organisation in the post-war years. In 1958, for example, it provided 53.5 percent of the movement’s funds.
“The European Youth Campaign, an arm of the European Movement, was wholly funded and controlled by Washington.
“The Belgian director, Baron Boel, received monthly payments into a special account. When the head of the European Movement, Polish-born Joseph Retinger, bridled at this degree of American control and tried to raise money in Europe, he was quickly reprimanded.”
Moreover, the report adds that the Fathers of Europe – Mr Schuman and the former Belgian Prime Minister Paul-Henri Spaak – were all treated as “hired hands” by the US government.
In 2016, Mr Pritchard noted in a different report: “The European Union always was a CIA project, as Brexiteers discover.”
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Ukip founder Alan Sked
Former Prime Minister Winston Churchill
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Ukip founder Alan Sked added: “It was all true.
“They were pouring lots and lots of money into Europe.
“They did it through the council for foreign relations, which was some sort of CIA.
“And there was a body called Americans for the United States of Europe.
“They put the money into that and that put the money into the hands of several leading European politicians.”
He noted: “After the war, they thought Churchill would lead the charge for a federal United States of Europe.
“But he wasn’t interested in it, or at least he didn’t want Britain to be part of it.”
Mr Sked’s comments not only shed more light on how the European Economic Community (EEC) – the precursor to the EU – was created, but also suggest that bringing about a United States of Europe had always been the original plan.
Britain joined the bloc in 1973 under former Prime Minister Edward Heath, on the basis the EEC would have constituted just a “common market” without any political implications.
Two years before, a White Paper had been sent to every home in the UK, promising: “There is no question of Britain losing essential sovereignty.”
Then, in a television broadcast to mark his signing of the Treaty of Rome, Mr Heath went even further.
He said: “There are some in this country who fear that in going into Europe, we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty.
“These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified.”