Fr. Ireneusz Skubiś talks with prof. Mirosław Piotrowski – a historian, politician, parliamentarian for the European Parliament

FR. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ: – The beginnings of united Europe were in the first post-war years. Has Europe changed since then? PROF. MIROSLAW PIOTROWSKI: – The original idea of united Europe was outlined by founding fathers of the European Community: Konrad Adenauer, Robert Schuman, Alcide de Gasperi, Jean Monnet. Since then a lot has changed. Apart from the transformation of the European Community into the Union since the Treaty of Maastricht from 1993 through the Treaty of Lisbon from 2009, till today we can observe departure from values represented by founding fathers.

– What vision of Europe did its pre-war leaders have?

– Founding fathers wanted mainly Europe based on Christian values and also Europe free from wars. On 9 May 1950, during a meeting of the French government Robert Schuman presented a plan of creating the European Community of Coal and Steel, later called a Declaration of Schuman. A year later, in cooperation with Jean Monnet and a chancellor of Germany Konrad Adenauer he led to an agreement between France and Germany about the common management of steel and coal industries on the area of Zagłębie Ruhry. It concerned control of neuralgic branches of industry, which would be a guarantee of peace in Europe.

– We use the term ‘ founding fathers’. Who were the creators of united Europe?

– Adenauer, de Gasperi, Schuman were leading representatives of the European political arena. They all were Christian democrats , especially the two last ones distinguished with religiousness, and even holiness. At present there is beatification process of Robert Schuman, who was the prime minister of France and the chairman of the European Parliament. According to the testimony of one nun sent to Rome – Schuman ‘never patronized himself’. ‘In fact – she wrote – I still saw him kneeling – either before a man, in his attitude, or physically at a prayer’. He was a politician who lived with the Gospel every day, both at home and at work. The candidate for the blessed is also de Gasperi.

– Also symbols of the European Union are Christian. Why do only few people remember about it?

– I will remind that Fr. Inf. Ireneusz Skubiś, the chief editor of ‘Niedziela’, during a visit in the European Parliament, talking with one of highly posted clerks, asked about the EU symbols. That clerk said that 12 stars means 12 founding members, but Priest corrected that it is a reference to the Apocalypse of St. John, where it was written that over Mary’s head there appeared a wreath of twelve stars (see Ap. 12.1). The creator of the European flag, considered as official, Arsene Heitz admitted that the inspiration for the symbols of the flag was the Holy Scripture.

– So, what symbols and values are binding in the European Union?

– Each country joining the EU must respect the so-called European values. They are mentioned in many basic documents of the Union. In the second article of the Lisbon Treaty we read among the others, that ‘the union is based on values of respecting the human being, freedom, democracy, equality’. More analysis of this issue is found in the Charter of Basic Rights. On these two EU documents and in the euro-constitution, rejected in referendums in France and Holland, there is no reference to God and Christian values. They have been replaced with the phrase of cultural, religious and humanistic heritage. Many people perceive it as departure of EU decision-makers from Christian roots.

– Is there a place for the Catholics in the European space?

– In July 2013, for commemoration of 50th anniversary of the symbolic meeting of gen. Charles de Gaulle with Konrad Adenauer, the chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and the president of France Francois Hollande arrived in the cathedral in Reims. They did not participate in the Holy Mass, but in the organized ‘moment of reflection’. We do not have a chapel in the European Parliament in which the Catholics could pray, but there is only an interreligious place designed for meditation and prayer. Unfortunately, the European space of cleansed from the Catholics. In most votes concerning basic Christian values, like for example life protection, the Parliament opts for the general access to the so-called reproductive health, which entails abortion. In the most important documents Christian accents have been removed. There was a situation, as one of cardinals said, that at present none of founding fathers, Christian democrats of the European Union, could become the EU commissioner because none of them meets criteria.

– Why are Christian values important for Europe?

– The term ‘Europe’ is permanently used in reference to the European Union, although it is not identified with it, like in the geographical sense. But in most cases, if we say ‘Europe’ we think: 28 countries of the European Union. The significance of Christianity for Europe was mentioned by pope Benedict XVI who said that ‘Christian roots are for Europe like food and oxygen’. St. John Paul II, who did for Europe and the world so much, used to call: ‘Europe, find yourself! Be yourself! Discover your beginnings, breathe life into your roots’.


"Niedziela" 21/2014

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: