CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 17, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI expressed his sorrow at the murder of Brother Roger Schutz, saying the founder of the ecumenical Taizé Community is “in the hands of eternal goodness.”
Brother Roger, 90, was stabbed to death by a woman Tuesday at an evening prayer service attended by 2,500 people in the Burgundy region in France, authorities said. A 36-year-old Romanian woman was detained by witnesses and turned over to police, authorities said.<br>
The Pope showed emotion as he expressed his grief, at the end of today’s general audience.
“This news has affected me even more because precisely yesterday I received a very moving, affectionate letter from Frère Roger,” the Pope said, addressing the pilgrims gathered in the patio of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.
“In it he wrote that from the depth of his heart he wanted to tell me that ‘we are in communion with you and with those who have gathered in Cologne,'” the Holy Father said.
Hopes for Cologne
Benedict XVI, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, had known Brother Roger for a long time.
During Pope John Paul II’s funeral, Cardinal Ratzinger, the then dean of the College of Cardinals, surprised observers when he went up to Brother Roger, who was in a wheelchair, to give him Communion. Brother Roger was not Catholic.
In his letter, the founder of the ecumenical community explained to the new Pope that “because of his state of health, unfortunately he would not be able to come personally to Cologne, but that he would be present spiritually with his brothers.”
The letter, written in French, expressed Brother Roger’s desire “to come as soon as possible to Rome to meet with me and to tell me that ‘our Community of Taizé wants to go forward in communion with the Holy Father,'” according to Benedict XVI.
The letter ended with these words in Brother Roger’s own handwriting: “Holy Father, I assure you of my sentiments of profound communion. Frère Roger of Taizé.”
“At this moment of sadness,” the Pope said, “we can only commend to the Lord’s goodness the soul of this faithful servant of his.”
“Frère Schutz is in the hands of eternal goodness, of eternal love; he has attained eternal joy,” the Holy Father added. “He invites and exhorts us to be faithful laborers in the Lord’s vineyard, also in sad situations, certain that the Lord accompanies us and gives us his joy.”