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Robert Schuman: Neo-Scholastic Humanism and the Reunification of Europe


Alan Fimister

On 9 th May 1950 Robert Schuman (1886-1963) made the historic declaration that would form the foundation of the European Community. What is seldom appreciated is the remarkable degree to which Schuman’s actions were the conscious implementation of the Neo-Thomistic project of Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903). Leo sought to employ the intellectual resources of St Thomas Aquinas to achieve «the restoration, both in rulers and peoples, of the principles of the Christian life in civil and domestic society». The resolution of the Church’s difficulties with the French Republic and republicanism generally was a central goal of Leo’s programme. In the half-century that followed a series of philosophers sought to envisage the concrete conditions under which Leo’s vision could be realised. Foremost among them was Jacques Maritain (1882-1973).
Robert Schuman was a close student of Aquinas and committed to the reconciliation of the Church and the Republic. As French Foreign Minister he sought to act upon Maritain’s belief that a European federation conceived under the banner of liberty would ultimately lead to the establishment of a new Christendom.


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Acknowledgements 13


13 Acknowledgements The idea behind this project would never have occurred to me with- out the inspiration of Mrs J. McReavy and I would never have been able to write it without that of Miss Gloria Cadman. Equally indispensable, though in a different way, have been Professor René Leboutte and my Aunt, Françoise Kunka. Many people have read drafts of the text and patiently suffered my intransigence: Helen Brown, Peter Kwasniewski, David Braine, Brian Midgely, Bettina Tonn, Tony Heywood and Trevor Salmon. My efforts have also been sustained over the years by the influence and example of Barry Robertson and Ian MacInnes. I would like to thank the University of Luxembourg and the staff of the Queen Mother and Taylor Libraries at the University of Aberdeen, of the British Library and of the Bodleian Library. I owe a special debt to the staff at the Departmental Archives of Moselle and of the Maison Robert Schuman. In particular the assistance and encouragement of Eric Necker of Conseil Général de la Moselle have been invaluable. An unpayable debt of love and gratitude is owed to my parents Anne and Geoff and my sister Katherine.

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