Pontiff Lauds Taizé Founder's "Ecumenism of Holiness"


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As the ecumenical Taizé Community marked both the 70th anniversary of foundation and the fifth anniversary of the founder's death, Benedict XVI pointed to the founder's "ecumenism of holiness" as an inspiration in "our march toward unity."

The Taizé Community is today marking the fifth anniversary of the death of Brother Roger Schutz, who was killed Aug. 16, 2005, by a mentally disturbed woman. The founder was 90 at the time of his death.

The community is also remembering the 70th anniversary of foundation, marked on Aug. 20, the day Brother Roger arrived in Taizé, France.

A papal message from the Pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, assured the Holy Father's "spiritual closeness and union in prayer with the community and all those involved in commemorating the memory of Brother Roger."

"A tireless witness to the gospel of peace and reconciliation, Brother Roger was a pioneer in the difficult paths toward unity among the disciples of Christ," the message affirmed. "Seventy years ago, he began a community that continues to see thousands of young adults, searching for meaning in their lives, come to it from around the world, welcoming them in prayer and allowing them to experience a personal relationship with God."

The Pope's message proposed that from heaven, Brother Roger "still speaks to us."

"May his witness to an ecumenism of holiness inspire us in our march toward unity, and may your community continue to live and to radiate his charism, especially toward the younger generations," the message encouraged.

Excluding no one

The community itself marked the anniversaries on Saturday with a simple pilgrimage that passed by the cemetery where the founder is buried.

Brother Roger's successor, Brother Alois, read a prayer, which was the only text spoken at the event.

"[Brother Roger] sought earnestly to live in your trust and to express your infinite kindness for every human being, whether a believer or a nonbeliever -- you, the living God, who do not condemn, who exclude no one from your love," Brother Alois said. "In this trust, you enabled him to find the source of joy and peace: peace of heart that made him a creator of peace among humans. [...]

"Poor and vulnerable as he was himself, as he put it, he chose to love with all his strength."

Some 5,000 people participated in marking the anniversaries, and during the event, an Italian member of the community received the white habit characteristic of the Taizé brothers.