Messages Sent Following Brother Roger's Death

“A Man of Faith Loving Passionately the Church”

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TAIZÉ, France, AUG. 23, 2005 ( Here are some message sent to the ecumenical Community of Taizé following the death of its founder, Brother Roger Schutz.

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From the Vatican, Secretariat of State
Aug. 17

To Brother Alois,

Dear Brother,

Learning with deep emotion of the tragic death of Brother Roger, which occurred in the Church of Reconciliation, the Holy Father offers up to God a fervent prayer for the rest of the soul of this untiring witness to the Gospel of peace and of reconciliation.

At the time when, in Lyon, Father Couturier was putting to work his ecumenical inspirations, Brother Roger, a man of faith loving passionately the Church, was founding in Taizé a Community that was to attract young people from the whole world. Numerous generations of Christians, respecting their own confessions, were to have an authentic experience of faith there, in an encounter with Christ, thanks to prayer and brotherly love, responding in this way to his invitation to live in unity through the bond of peace.

The Holy Father joins in prayer with the Brothers of the Community of Taizé, as well as with all persons touched by this grief, and entrusts them to the Lord, that they may find the strength to continue the work of reconciliation begun by Brother Roger. As a token of comfort in this painful trial, His Holiness gladly bestows on them the apostolic blessing.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano

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From the Ecumenical Patriarchate

To the Taizé Community in France, our beloved in the Lord:

Grace and peace from God. It is with great sorrow that we learned of the most tragic loss of the deeply loved and respected founder of your community, Brother Roger. We know that his senseless death has not only affected your Community, but also everyone who knew and loved him.

In your understandable grief and sorrow, we wish to convey to you our personal condolences and those of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. May God grant rest to the soul of Brother Roger, and may he grant your Community the strength and wisdom to endure this time of crises.

We will always remember him for his contribution to the Ecumenical Movement and for his love for the youth all over the world. We express to you, the Taizé Community, once again our heartfelt sympathy and invoke upon you the infinite mercy and love of Almighty God to aid and comfort you.

At the Patriarchate, 18 Aug. 2005

Bartholomew, archbishop of Constantinople, and ecumenical patriarch

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From the Patriarch of Moscow and of all Russia, Alexis

18 Aug. 2005

To Brother Alois
Prior of the Community of Taizé

Dear brother in Christ!

It was with deep pain that I learned of the tragic death of the founder of the community of Taizé, Brother Roger Schutz, whose earthly journey has been an example of Christian living, consecrating himself to the service of the Lord. Brother Roger was known throughout the whole world as the founder of the Community of Taizé, which he headed for more than 60 years.

Man of inspired words, man of prayer, zealous worker in the fields of Christ, his untiring search to establish relationships of peace and love among Christians, and his commitment to transmitting the Christian ideal to the youth of Europe earned him a universal respect. I am convinced that the tragic death of Brother Roger is an immense loss for the entire Christian world. I express my sincere condolences to all the members of the Community of Taizé and I pray for the rest of Brother Roger, new inhabitant of heaven.

Alexis, patriarch of Moscow and of all Russia

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Archbishop of Canterbury

Dear brothers and friends,

Like all of you, I am still coming to terms with the terrible tragedy of last week. But today is an occasion not only for mourning but for celebrating the extraordinary achievement of our dear Brother Roger. Very few people in a generation manage to change the whole climate of a religious culture; but Brother Roger did just this.

He changed the terms of reference for ecumenism by the challenge to Christians of diverse loyalties to live the monastic life together; he changed the image of Christianity itself for countless young people; he changed the Churches’ perception of the absolute priority of reconciliation, first in postwar Europe, then throughout the globe.

And what is perhaps most important is that he did this without any position of hierarchical authority, without any position within the politics and power-struggles of the institution. His authority was authentically monastic: the authority of a father and elder brother in God who drew his vision from patient waiting on the Lord in prayer, and from the work and study and discernment of a committed Community.

His life and witness present the true Gospel challenge to all our Christian institutions, the challenge to become really credible through our willingness to live and listen in humility, to know where our true power lies. We thank God today for a life that questions our institutional complacency, not in the name of fashion or ease or naive radicalism, but simply in the name of the Gospel of Jesus and the ministry of reconciliation.

Brother Roger’s life will be a lasting gift and challenge, and we pray that the community of Taizé, so much loved and valued in all the Christian world and beyond, will go on offering us this same gift in the years ahead. Please be assured of the abiding love and prayers of your friends in the Anglican Church, and especially your brother in faith.

Rowan Cantuar (Rowan Williams)

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Secretary-General of the United Nations

To Brother Alois, Prior of Taizé
Aug. 18, 2005

Very dear Brother,

It was with emotion and sorrow that I learned of the tragic disappearance of Brother Roger, founder and prior of your Community. I want to express my deepest sympathy and would be grateful if you would transmit to those close to him and all the Community of Taizé my very sincere condolences.

Following the finest traditions of the faith that sustained him, Brother Roger consecrated his life to the service of peace, dialogue and reconciliation. He became the untiring advocate of the values of respect, of tolerance and of solidarity, in particular toward the young. His message of hope and of trust will remain a source of inspiration for all. I am convinced that you will be able to pursue the work begun by Brother Roger. All my best wishes go with you in this exalting mission.

With all my respects,

Kofi Annan

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President of the bishops’ conference of France

Paris, 16 Aug. 2005

Dear Brothers and Friends,

With deep sorrow, I have just heard of the death of Brother Roger, your founder and father, our brother in the faith. He, so gentle, has finished his earthly course as a victim of violence. What a mystery … he who, with all of you, so often called together the youth of the world to teach them, in the name of faith in the Risen Christ, to bear witness to the transforming power of given love, now arrives before the Father of Mercies at the very moment the World Youth Days are being held in Cologne. What a witness and what a call …

As president of the bishops’ conference of France, I cannot forget the brotherly faithfulness with which, since the Vatican Council and without fail after it, he would write to the bishops of France before each of the general assemblies at Lourdes. His message was always expected and received with fervor. It is too soon, this evening, to go on writing more about this great seeker and witness to God, with his passionate concern for unity among Christians, and reconciliation.

With you I give thanks to God for the force of his witness and the patient tenacity with which he made Taizé the place where so many disc
iples of Christ found renewed energies, beyond divisions, the meeting place of hope for so many poor across the world. For you, I pray for peace in the time of trial and the strength to continue along the road.

With most fraternal greetings

Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux

[English translations of the messages issued by the Taizé Community; adapted slightly]

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