08/19/2005, 00.00
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Asia remembers Brother Roger

Bangkok (AsiaNews/UCAN) – In many communities in Asia, people are grieving over Brother Roger's death—many of these communities had forged ties with that of Taizé.

Yusuf Suharyono, prayer leader at the Taizé community in Indonesia who lives in Jakarta, said: "We Taizé prayer activists grieve for the death of Brother Roger who was so close to young people. He always practiced reconciliation and forgiveness, [bore] witness to God and love."

Mr Suharyono said the Taizé prayer community in Indonesia will hold prayers every evening from 8 pm to 10 pm until Brother Roger's funeral on August 23.

Suharyono, who met Brother Roger several times in France, recalled "his message saying . . . we are now members of one family, a great family."

"I always deeply reflect on that message, and I find that relations are very important. Unfortunately, his death fractured our relation," he added.

Brother Roger's murder is a big challenge to the local Taizé prayer community, he said, "but it encourages us to improve our witness, reconciliation and forgiveness."

He also noted that the local Taizé prayer community has sent its condolences by e-mail.

The Indonesian Taizé group sent its condolences to the mother community via e-mail.

News of Brother Roger's death did not reach Nepal, except for some religious circles in Kathmandu.

Cluny Sister Francisca Niraula, who works in Damak (eastern Nepal), expressed shock when she was told the news by phone.

"No, we did not hear it. I visited Taizé various times, and the main house of our congregation is near Taizé, in Cluny," she said.

Describing Brother Roger as "a saint", Sister Niraula said she knew "Hindus who used to visit Taizé. Everyone who went there was touched in some way. We can count on Brother Roger's prayers from heaven when we [. . .] are accused of bringing in foreign influence and money to run our school."

Some Catholics in Kathmandu with access to cable television did know of the tragic news. One of them is Jyoti Khanal, vice president of Caritas Nepal.

"It is sad to see [. . .] an aged, Mother Teresa-like figure on TV, and then see [that the news] is about the death of Brother Roger in Taizé," she said.

"Brother Roger was a very holy man. We will miss him," Isu Jung Karki, a popular Christian pastor, said.

Nepalese Catholics first heard of Taizé prayer 15 years ago when Bangladesh-based Taizé Brother Guillaume came to Kathmandu to show videos and discuss Taizé-style prayers.

Since then Brother Guillaume came back several times to meet Christian leaders of all denominations. He even helped start an ecumenical group in Kathmandu that broke up within a year, after a controversy with regard to Catholics taking active part in the main annual Hindu festival of Dashain.

In Japan, "Brother Roger had a big influence on the ecumenical movement, both directly and indirectly," Uematsu Isao, a representative of the local Taizé community, said.

"Taizé music is [now] used in churches and religious houses throughout the country. When you see how many young people have been encouraged by contact with Taizé, it is clear among Church leaders that Brother Roger was a great gift."

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