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Theological Notebook: A Letter from Taizé

News from Taizé by email
Taizé, 30 August 2005
* The funeral of Brother Roger
* Opening words by Brother Alois
* Address by Cardinal Kasper
* In communion
* "Like a huge family"
* The coming weeks and months
* Prayer

The funeral of Brother Roger
The funeral of Brother Roger, founder of the ecumenical Community of
Taizé, was celebrated on Tuesday 23 August 2005 in the Church of
Reconciliation in Taizé. The celebration was presided over by
Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for the
Promotion of the Unity of Christians, with the four priest brothers
of Taizé. Bible readings were read by Anglican and Protestant
representatives, and the final prayer was sung by representatives of
Orthodox Churches. As the celebration began at 2:00pm, the church
bells of the sixteen villages forming the parish around Taizé rang
out simultaneously. Between 10 and 12,000 people from many countries
took part in the celebration, including a large number of religious
and civic leaders, notably the President of the Federal Republic of
Germany. Many of those who in times past had been volunteer helpers
at Taizé came especially for the occasion. Because of the large
numbers attending, the celebration was retransmitted on a giant
screen outside the church. At the end of the celebration, Brother
Roger was buried privately, in the presence of only the brothers of
the Community, in the little cemetery surrounding the ancient church
in the village of Taizé, where his mother and a number of brothers
already rest.
"Funeral celebration for Brother Roger":
"Pictures of the funeral":
"Religious and civic leaders present":

Opening words by Brother Alois
It was Brother Alois, the new prior of Taizé, who opened the
"Brother Roger opened a road and led us on that road with exceptional
energy and courage. Some intimate convictions led him to go forward
tirelessly on that road. Allow me to mention just two of these
convictions. Often Brother Roger repeated these words: 'God is united
to every human being without exception.' This confidence carried and
will carry the ecumenical vocation of our little community. With the
whole Church we want to believe this reality and to do everything to
express it with our life. Brother Roger had all human beings in his
heart, from every nation, in particular young people and children. We
want to continue in his steps. And the other conviction: Brother
Roger constantly returned to that Gospel value which is kind-
heartedness. It is not an empty word, but a force able to transform
the world, because, through it, God is at work. In the face of evil,
kind-heartedness is a vulnerable reality. But the life which Brother
Roger gave is a pledge that God's peace will have the last word for
each person on our earth. Since Brother Roger did not want many words
to be spoken in churches, I would like to conclude by praying: "God
of goodness, we entrust to your forgiveness Luminita Solcan who, in
an act of sickness, put an end to the life of Brother Roger. With
Christ on the cross we say to you: Father, forgive her; she does not
know what she did. Holy Spirit, we pray for the people of Romania and
for the young Romanians whom we love so much in Taizé. …"
"Opening words by Brother Alois":

Address by Cardinal Kasper
"We all are under the impact of the death of Brother Roger, one of
the great spiritual leaders and also spiritual fathers of our time.
But at the same time, our grief is being transformed into hope. … The
first split that pained Brother Roger concerned the division between
Christians. From his youth he united himself to Christ's prayer 'that
all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you' (John
17:21). He wanted to live the faith of the undivided Church, without
breaking with anybody, in a great brotherhood. He believed above all
in the ecumenism of holiness, that holiness which changes the depths
of the soul and which alone leads towards full communion. Yes, the
springtime of ecumenism has flowered on the hill of Taizé, in this
Church of Reconciliation, where members of different Christian
traditions meet in respect and dialogue, in prayer and fraternal
sharing, inspired by the presence and the example of Brother Roger. …
The second split that pained Brother Roger concerned the division
between peoples and nations, between rich and poor countries. Every
form of injustice or neglect made him very sad. He wanted some
brothers of the community to go and live in several countries with
the poorest of the poor, in small groups, as a simple sign of love
and communion. This simple witness was very dear to him …"
"Address by Cardinal Kasper":

In communion
In the days following 16 August, countless messages reached the
brothers telling of prayers, masses and memorial services in
communion with the funeral in Taizé. In Notre Dame in Paris, the
Cathedral of Sarajevo, in Vladivostok; in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg,
Cologne and many other cities in Germany; in Santisimo Redentor
Parish, Madrid, in Barcelona, Valencia, Santander and elsewhere in
Spain. In Birmingham Cathedral, London, Bristol, in the UK… but not
only in Europe. … In Africa: "Today we met in the Cathedral of Christ
the King in Johannesburg and prayed midday prayer in memory of
Brother Roger"; in Chad, Togo, and Bénin: "All the young people of
the Archdiocese of Cotonou are praying with you" … North America:
"From what I hear from many friends of Taizé, new life is springing
up following the death of Brother Roger. We are getting in touch with
each other again. Last night the chapel of Regis College welcomed 125
people for prayer." In the USA: at the University of Dayton, in
Houston, Texas, at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York.
… In South America: in Mexico City, and Guadalajara; in Santiago,
Chile; in San Isidro, Argentina. In the Asia Pacific region: Hong
Kong, Macau and Taiwan; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; "From the day Brother
Roger left us, our friends in Jakarta (Indonesia) have done a chain
prayer. Each of us takes his/her turn to pray for him every day. May
this strengthen you and the community"; Perth, Sydney and Adelaide,
in Australia; Singapore, Thailand, Japan; India: Mumbai, Kottayam,
and in Calcutta, in the house where Brother Roger stayed in 1976 …

"Like a huge family"
The brothers have been deeply touched to receive so many letters,
cards, telephone calls, and thousands of emails from an infinite
variety of people, known and unknown. It will take time to reply to
them. The community's website quickly received so many visits that it
could not sustain the load. The following day copies were set up on a
number of additional servers and the website reopened. Many people
used the "media page" to listen or view a recording of the funeral.
As the funeral in Taizé ended, all those who wished to do so were
invited to join the brothers for light refreshments. In spite of the
rain, it was a quite unique moment for everyone. Bishops and civic
leaders mingled with dear friends of the community, and the families
of many of the brothers; Mother Dinorah, Superior of the Sisters of
Saint Andrew and Mother Yolanda, Superior of the Ursuline Sisters who
live and work in Taizé; it was a joy and comfort to the brothers to
see so many well known faces of former times - generations of former
"volunteers" who had come specially, even from as far away as Quebec
and Korea. As one of the brothers remarked, "It's like a huge
"Brother Roger's funeral (audio & video)":

The coming weeks and months
During the evening prayer on Saturday 27 August, at the end of the
week of the funeral, the brothers had the joy of welcoming a new
brother into the community. He is from Argentina. Meanwhile, the
weekly meetings in Taizé continue, Sunday to Sunday:
Mid September, the preparation for the European meeting in Milan gets
under way, with the first prayer at S. Ambrogio, on the 19th. This
prayer will continue daily right up to the meeting. Meeting in
On Sunday 2 October the brothers will welcome for the day people from
all over the diocese, together with the Bishop of Autun, Mgr. Raymond
In Brazil, brothers and young volunteers continue the preparation for
the next Jornada da Confiança, to be held in Santo Andre, in the
State of Sao Paolo, from 12 to 15 November 2005:
In September-October, a whole series of meetings is planned in
Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia. From 1 to 4 December,
the brothers in Bangladesh are organizing a pilgrimage for
handicapped people, to be held in Savar, near Dhaka:

Holy Spirit, you place within reach of our human fragility those
Gospel values to which our Brother Roger has made us so attentive:
kindness of heart, forgiveness, and compassion.


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Tags: ecclesiology, monasticism, obituary, theological notebook

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