08/23/2005, 00.00
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Brother Roger laid to rest in Taizé

Card Walter Kasper celebrates the mass in presence of representatives of Europe's Churches and faithful from around the world.

Taizé (AsiaNews) – More than 10,000 people gathered inside and outside the Church of the Reconciliation in Taizé for the funeral of Brother Roger Shutz, the founder of the Taizé ecumenical community, who was killed a week ago by a deranged Romanian woman during Vesper prayer.

The ceremony began at 2 pm local time (GMT+2) and lasted almost two hours. Outside the church, the faithful followed the function on a mega screen.

German President Horst Koehler and French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy were at the service, so were many religious personalities; among them Card Walter Kasper, Chairman of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Rev Jean-Arnold de Clermont, Chairman of the French Protestant Federation and of the Conference of European Churches, Lutheran Bishop Wolfgang Huber, Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany, Archpriest Mickail Gundiaev representing the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow and representatives of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

Card Kasper celebrated Brother Roger's funeral following the Catholic rite—the Brother was originally an Evangelical Christian—assisted by four monks from the Taizé community.

The mass itself was made more poignant by chants from both the Western and Eastern liturgies.

Taizé is an ecumenical community; its members come from different Christian denominations. Thanks to Brother Roger the rediscovery of the common roots of Christian traditions developed with high regard for those of the Catholic Church, which has always maintained the apostolic tradition, the Sacraments and the Petrine Ministry.

In a silent and heavy atmosphere, the 90 monks of the community were lined up along the central nave as four of them carried the simple, plain wood casket.

Brother Aloys, a Catholic, whom Brother Roger had chosen as his successor some time ago, spoke.

"Brother Roger opened the way and led us with an exceptional impetus and courage. . . . [He] had all humans in his heart, from all nations, especially the young and children."

Remembering how he died, he added: "Faced with evil, the goodness of the heart is a vulnerable reality. But the life Brother Roger gave is a pledge that God's peace will have the last word for each one of us on our earth."

Referring to the insane act by the murderer, Romanian Luminita Solcan, Brother Aloys said: "God of goodness, we entrust Luminita Solcan to your forgiveness. . . . With Christ on the Cross, we tell You: Father, forgive her, for she knows not what she has done".

Speaking to the assembly, Card Kasper said Brother Roger was "one of the great spiritual leaders and a spiritual Father of our times". He then mentioned the work Brother Roger and the community did as "a ferment of unity in the Church and the world."

"Yes, the springtime of ecumenism has blossomed on the hill of Taizé, in this Church of the Reconciliation, where members from different Christian traditions meet in respect and dialogue, in prayer and brotherly sharing," he said.

Card Kasper reminded the assembly that Brother Roger was also involved in another field: "the division amongst peoples and nations, and between rich and poor countries". For this reason, he built Taizé as "a mini prophecy of the Kingdom of God, a seed of friendship and reconciliation in a world worn out by indifference".

"He opened his hear and the Taizé community to the young of the world, to their seeking and their hopes, to their joy and their suffering, to their progress in life and in faith."

Brother Roger was laid to rest in a cemetery that surrounds a Romanesque church in the nearby village where the community lived in its early years in the 1940s.

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