Today is Europe Day, about which I have written, in conjunction with VE Day, in our parish newsletter available here on our website. For some years (and I don’t why it was stopped) our Bishops Conference produced an annual message and prayer leaflet for today; and in our parish it’s been our custom on the nearest Sunday to mark this day by having some of the Bidding Prayers at Mass read in different European languages. The picture of the Holy Father in front of a European flag shows him receiving the Charlemagne prize, shortly before the UK Brexit referendum in 2016.
The UK government and much of the Press aren’t interested so many people are unaware that today is a special Europe Day, the 70th anniversary today of the event which we mark on the day every year – the Schuman Declaration, named after the French Foreign Minister in 1950, Robert Schuman, shown here. This historic declaration set up the European Coal and Steel Community, the forerunner of the EEC and the EU. Exactly five years after the end of the war in Europe, the leaders of France, West Germany and the ‘Benelux’ countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) decided to pool their resources in relation to the mining of coal and the production of steel and other related products, setting up a supra-national authority which would decide on production and pricing policies.
Five countries, soon joined by Italy, freely decided to give up some of their sovereignty in the interests of the Common Good in Europe and peace – people knew that wars between France and Germany had often been fought over the parts of their countries where coal came from and steel was made. The three politicians who with Jean Monnet spearheaded this process – Schuman, Konrad Adenauer and Alcide de’ Gasparri, were committed Catholics and what they did was rooted in Catholic Social Teaching. That is why today is important for Catholics, and it’s why European unity is important for Catholics. We’re seeing this even more clearly during the current pandemic.
So today, like yesterday, should be about thanksgiving for all that has been achieved.
God bless and take care