Robert Schuman, acting as a Christian in politics



Polls, television audience, nominations, election night, voting intentions, major trends… Since the launch of the presidential election campaign, our daily life has been punctuated by the stages of this frantic race towards the highest office of the State. We dissect the slightest words, deeds and gestures of the candidates on the lookout for the word too much, the crisp anecdote, the spat that will make people talk and ink flow.

Is politics really that? At a time when millions of French people are being called to the polls, what image are we given of politics? A huge arena where all shots are allowed, where the tenors of the major national parties compete, already proud to have obtained the nomination after a primary which will have revealed only internal tensions, and the candidates without parties that the we are already presented as losers, while the campaign has just started?

An all-too-visible Christian sensibility

The figure of Robert Schuman (1886-1963), father of the European community, could perhaps reconcile some people with public affairs. It is not a question here of making the apology of his thought, nor of embarking on a plea to defend the European idea, but of considering his way of living his political mandates. Some have unjustly accused him of naivety or covered him with opprobrium because of his Christian sensibility which was a little too visible in secular France.

He entered politics in 1919 at the call of duty and without campaigning, with the sole aim of “saving the soul of Lorraine” from forced legal reinstatement after nearly 50 years of attachment to the German Empire. . At that time, Deputy Schuman had the same vision of politics as most of our contemporaries, readily qualifying it as “ great lady of questionable morals who too often compromises her friends “. Aware that politics is a profession that can be learned like any other “, he was a hard-working parliamentarian, a hard worker, frequenting the benches of the Palais-Bourbon more than the tables of the surrounding cafes. He treated his collaborators and his opponents with the same courtesy.

→ READ. Robert Schuman, politics as a path to holiness

In the most stormy debates, he knew how to keep his cool and return to the field of cold realities, so as not to fall into easy personal criticism. He had the same consideration for a great statesman as for his more modest fellow citizens. He did not seek to shine in public by grand speeches: he found himself a poor orator, a shame for the lawyer he was. He never made a career in politics: he kept his job as a lawyer so that politics did not become a livelihood, he never took advantage of his mandates to satisfy personal needs and knew how to put his destiny between hands of its voters at the time of the vote without showing any electoral strategy. Above all, he knew how to keep his integrity and his rectitude: he was surprised one day to say ” We must not lie… especially in politics. To a youth from his party who asked his advice, he replied: Being straight is the best way to be smart. »

Denial of privileges

Having become a minister, he refused all the privileges of his office: he proposed to the family of his personal secretary to occupy his official accommodation and bought himself a small attic where he remained for several months without heating and which he summarily furnished , he refused to have a function secretary made available to him and never used his ministerial car. He amused himself by saying that he had “ never seen a politician keep his cool from the moment he had bikers around his car “. He himself traveled by public transport and, in his region, he sometimes hitchhiked. This unusual style, already of his time, stems from the Christian education received in his youth and his firm desire to “do good”.

→ READ. Presidential 2022: Catholics, the reasons for an electoral choice

Robert Schuman gives us the touching image of a sincere, honest and simple politician, a man rooted in reality, close to people. He shows us that politics, before being a race for the highest functions of the State, is first of all the place of humble and disinterested service of daily realities. His example is an invitation to rediscover faith in politics!

A poll at Palm Sunday

This year, Christians are called to go to the polls twice for a decisive vote that will guide the future of the country for the next five years. The liturgical calendar curiously sheds light on the electoral calendar. The first ballot will be played on Palm Sunday, the day on which the Church celebrates the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem, and the second on Sunday in albis, whose Gospel reminds us of the doubt of Saint Thomas. Make no mistake! The first round will not see the acclamation of a providential candidate, nor the second of perfectly incredulous voters become believers…

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