08/17/2005, 00.00
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Pope saddened by the death of "Dear Brother Roger"

The Bishops' Conference of Germany and the whole World Youth Day community joins the Pope in expressing their sorrow at the tragic event.

Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) – At the end of today's catechesis in Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI paid homage to Brother Roger, who was killed yesterday in Taizé (eastern France). Visibly shaken and speaking extemporaneously, the Pontiff said this morning that he "received very sad, terrifying news; that Brother Roger, founder of the Taizé communities, was killed in a knife attack, most likely by a deranged woman".

"This most sad news strikes me even more because just yesterday I received a letter from him," the Pope said, "a very moving and loving letter in which he was wholeheartedly one with the Pope and all those who were in Cologne" for World Youth Days, an event that to which he could not come because of his health conditions, but in which he was "spiritually present".

Benedict XVI also noted that, in his letter, Brother Roger said he intended to come to Rome and that the Taizé community wanted to walk with the new Pope.

"In this moment of sadness we can only commend to the Lord's goodness the soul of His faithful servant who has reached eternal happiness," the Pope added.

In a press release, Card Franz Lehmann, chairman of the Bishops' Conference of Germany, today remembered the great figure of Brother Roger, a man who "devoted his life to Jesus' message of brotherhood for all mankind and peace for all Churches, confessions and religions."
In the message, Brother Roger's murder is compared to that of Jesus and other witnesses to His message of peace like Martin Luther King.

In expressing his condolences to the Taizé community, Cardinal Lehmann said he was convinced that during all its religious functions the WYD will pray "for this great friend of ours, a pioneer of an ecumene of the spirit".

In Cologne, where the WYD is underway, news about Brother Roger's death has caused great sorrow for he was well known to young people.

WYD secretary general Mgr Heiner Koch said in a press release "that World Youth Day participants are praying for this great figure".

After Brother Roger's murder, WYD organisers will probably make some changes to the programme today.

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