Regarding Brother Roger, prior of Taizé

Source: FSSPX News


Brother Roger, founder and prior of the ecumenical community of Taizé (in the French department of Saône-et-Loire), at 90 years old, was mortally stabbed on August 16, during evening prayer by an unbalanced Romanian woman of 36, Luminita Solcanu.

At the end of the Wednesday general audience of August 17, the pope mentioned the tragic death of the Protestant prior of Taizé: “This morning I received some very sad and dramatic news. During last night’s Vespers, dear Brother Roger Schütz, founder of the Community of Taizé, was stabbed and killed, probably by an unbalanced person. This news touched me all the more because yesterday I received a letter from Brother Roger, a very moving and very amicable one. In it, he writes that from the bottom of his heart, “we are in close communion with You and with all those who will gather at Cologne”. Then he wrote that for health reasons, unfortunately, he could not come to Cologne himself, but that he would be there in spirit with his brothers. At the end of the letter, he said he wished to come to Rome as soon as possible to meet me and tell me “our community of Taizé wished to walk in communion with the Holy Father”.

Continuing, Benedict XVI evoked the salvation – a sure thing in his eyes – of brother Roger without the least allusion to his adherence to Protestantism:

“In this time of sadness, we cannot but confide to the goodness of the Lord the soul of his faithful servant. We know that from sadness (…) joy will be reborn. Brother Schütz is in the hands of eternal goodness and eternal love. He has come to eternal joy. He reminds and exhorts us to always be faithful workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, even in sad situations, in the certainty that the Lord accompanies us and will give us his joy”.

Last April 8, at the Requiem mass of John-Paul II in St. Peter’s square, Cardinal Ratzinger had given communion to Roger Schütz. On July 12, the spokesman of the Vatican, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, declared that the founder of the ecumenical community of Taizé “had come to the full knowledge of the Eucharist”. “In this situation, it is practically impossible to refuse him access to the Most Blessed Sacrament, notably due to the fact that his Catholic faith is known to everyone”. He added that Brother Roger was himself opposed to any intercommunion in his community. Despite his evident desire to reassure, Joaquin Navarro-Valls was unable to say where or when Brother Roger had publicly pronounced his abjuration of Protestantism and his profession of the Catholic faith.

Very embarrassed, the spokesman of the Vatican continued by pointing out that the reception of Holy Communion by brother Roger was not anticipated. It came about “from unexpected circumstances”: the prior of Taizé realized that he was unintentionally in the line then forming to receive communion from Cardinal Ratzinger and he was unable to get out of it”. He added: “this is an unusual case which should not be generalized”.

This confusion was aggravated on August 19 by the announcement of the Catholic funeral of Brother Roger, celebrated by Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, on Wednesday the 23rd. Bishops and representatives of various Christian confession were there, notably from Europe and the United States. The President of the Protestant Federation of France, Jean-Arnold de Clermont, made a declaration with Orthodox, Protestant and Anglican leaders.

“There will be a mass celebrated by Catholic priests, as occurs every Sunday at Taizé” explained Brother Emile, spokesman of the community. The Protestants are invited to these services. “Brother Roger lived the reconciliation of the different denominations in a very concrete way. He has communicated for a long time”, he continued. “Reconciliation, according to him, was not the least common denominator, but the opening of the gifts of the churches for everyone”.

In one of his last books, God cannot but love, Brother Roger wrote: “I have found (…) my own Christian identity by reconciling within myself the faith of my origins with the mystery of the Catholic faith, without a break in communion with anyone”. Almost every year Brother Roger was received in private audience by pope John-Paul II, Brother Alois, the successor of Brother Roger, recalled. He rejected the rumors according to which the founder of Taizé had secretly become Catholic at the end of his life.