08/19/2005, 00.00
FRANCE
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Grief over Brother Roger's death in Taizé and around the world

Taizé (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Hundreds of people began lining up yesterday to file by the casket of Brother Roger Shutz, founder and prior of the Taizé community in Saône-et-Loire (France), who was killed on August 16.

Six brethren had taken the body dressed in white into the choir area of the Church of the Reconciliation which Brother Roger had built in 1962 and where he was mortally injured by two knife wounds inflicted by a 36-year-old Romanian woman, Luminita Solcan.

Local residents as well as 2,500 young pilgrims lined up to file by the casket and briefly pay their respect. Some who saw Brother Roger lay in state said he looked 'calm' and 'serene'.

Brother Aloys, Roger's designated successor as head to the Taizé community, joined the others to pray before the casket. The body of the murdered religious can be viewed every day from 3 pm to 7 pm until 2 pm, next Tuesday, when the funeral is scheduled to take place.

The death of Roger Schutz has left many religious and political leaders grief-stricken. In his August 17 General Audience, Pope Benedict XVI referred to the founder of the Taizé community as a "Dear Brother", expressing sincere sorrow for this "terrifying news".

Yesterday, the Pope sent a telegram of condolences through the Secretary of State, Card Angelo Sodano, to Brother Aloys and the entire Taizé community.

It read: "Having received the news with great emotion of the tragic death of Brother Roger, which occurred in the Church of Reconciliation, the Holy Father is raising to God a fervent prayer so that the soul of this indefatigable witness of the Gospels, of peace and of reconciliation may rest forever.

When in Lyon, Father Couturier was setting up his ecumenical inspirations, Brother Roger, a man of faith who passionately loved the Church, was setting up a community in Taizé that would see young people come from the entire world.

Respectful of their own beliefs, generations of Christians came to Taizé to truly experience their own faith and, through prayers and brotherly love, meet Christ, thus responding to his invitation to live unity by means of the bond of peace.

The Holy Father joins in prayer the brethren of the Taizé community as well as all those touched by this loss, and he commends them to the Lord that they may find the strength to pursue the work of reconciliation that Brother Roger started. As token of comfort in this trying moment, his Holiness grants them a heartfelt apostolic blessing."

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the Church of England, said that his reaction to the news could not be described so pained it was.

French President Jacques Chirac called the news "tragic", adding that he was "shocked" by how the religious was killed.

According to some, the woman who killed Brother Roger had been trying for months to gain an audience with him.

After the murder, she said she had no intention of killing the founder of the Taizé community, only to draw his attention.

Initially, French police did not think Ms Solcan was deranged. But Petru Boisteanu, director of the psychiatric hospital in Iaşi (Romania) where the woman comes from, said that she had been under his care since 2000 and that she suffers, in his words, from "schizoaffective disorder".

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