21 August 2015, The Tablet

Taizé founder remembered with call to ecumenism

The Vatican's top ecumenist praised France' Taizé community as a “youthful laboratory for inter-faith dialogue” on the tenth anniversary of the murder of its founder by a mentally ill pilgrim. “This place is marked by a deep spirituality, as well as by the immense scope of Brother Roger’s thought,” said Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. “We rejoice that its community has provided a kind of laboratory, where young people can engage early on in this inter-religious dialogue.”   

The Swiss cardinal was addressing representatives of Christian Churches and other faiths last Sunday during a “Week of Solidarity and Remembrance” at Saone-et-Loire to commemorate the death of Roger Schutz (1915-2005). Meanwhile, Taizé’s current prior, Alois Löser, said “peace, sharing and solidarity” had been Brother Roger’s “main concerns”, and should now be directed towards combating “expulsion and migration, ecological disasters, mass unemployment and violence”. He added that the community had recently continued its tradition of sheltering refugees by taking in a family from Iraq.

Founded under German occupation in August 1940, Taizé hosts around 100 Catholic and Protestant brothers from 25 countries, linked by vows of celibacy and simplicity of life. The community, which was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1986, regularly draws up to 6,000 young people to weekly gatherings, and tens of thousands to its annual international Youth Meetings.

The Swiss Protestant Brother Roger was stabbed to death during an August 2005 prayer session by a female Romanian attacker, who was later judged mentally ill. 

Last weekend's commemoration, also marking the 75th anniversary of Taizé’s foundation, was attended by Cardinals Manuel Clemente of Portugal and Laurent Pasinya of Congo-Kinshasa, as well as by Anglican Archbishop John Sentamu of York, World Council of Churches general secretary, Olaf Fykse Tveit, and other Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant leaders. 

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