TAIZÉ, France, AUG. 23, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The funeral rites of Brother Roger Schutz, founder of Taizé Community, drew thousands of people from a range of Churches and Christian communities.
Some 12,000 people from all over the world arrived in the small town in the Burgundy region to pray for the 90-year-old religious who was stabbed to death Aug. 16 by an apparently unstable 36-year-old Romanian woman.
The funeral rites in the Church of Reconciliation were presided over today by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He concelebrated Mass with four priests of this ecumenical community, and read a message from Benedict XVI.
In the text, sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Holy Father said that in Taizé “numerous generations of Christians, respecting their own confessions,” have undergone “an authentic experience of faith, in the encounter with Christ, thanks to prayer and brotherly love, responding in this way to his invitation to live unity by the bond of peace.”
At the start of the celebration, Brother Alois, the founder’s successor as prior of the community, conferred God’s forgiveness on Luminita Solcan, who “with a sickly act put an end to the life of our Brother Roger.”
Brother Alois, a German Catholic, recalled that Brother Roger often repeated the words: “God is united to every human being, without exception.”
“This confidence guided and guides the ecumenical vocation of our small community,” Brother Alois said. “With the whole Church, we want to believe in this reality and do everything possible to express it with our lives.”
For his part, Cardinal Kasper said in his message of greeting that “more than a guide or spiritual teacher, Brother Roger was for many like a father, a reflection of the eternal Father and of the universality of his love.”
Buried near church
Recalling the suffering experienced by Brother Roger caused by the division among Christians, the cardinal explained that “he wanted to live the faith of the Church without division, without breaking with anything, in great fraternity.”
“Above all, he believed in the ecumenism of holiness, that holiness that changes the depth of the soul and that is the only one that leads to full communion,” he clarified.
Among those at the celebration were Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli, apostolic nuncio in France; pastor Arnold of Clermont, president of the Protestant Federation of France and president of the Conference of European Churches; and Genevieve Jacques, secretary-general “ad interim” of the World Council of Churches.
Archpriest Mikhail Gundiaev represented the Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate, while Dr. Nigel McCulloch represented the archbishop of Canterbury, primate of the Anglican Church.
After the celebration, Brother Roger’s mortal remains were buried in the small cemetery that surrounds the Romanesque church of the town of Taizé, where his mother and several brothers are buried.