Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Brother Roger dies in violent attack

Brother Roger, founder of ecumenical community, is killed during evening worship service
[Episcopal News Service]

The 90-year-old founder of the ecumenical Taizé community, Roger Louis Schutz-Marsauche—known to the world simply as Frère Roger or Brother Roger—died August 16 during evening prayer in the Church of Reconciliation, struck down by a knife wielded by a mentally disturbed Romanian woman who emerged from the crowd of 2,500 worshippers.

Taizé officials said the woman had arrived two days earlier at the community, located near Macon in Burgundy, France. A local prosecutor said the woman, reportedly 36 years old, bought the knife the day before. "It would appear for now there is little doubt that this was premeditated,” he told reporters, adding that she was not "unbalanced enough to justify psychiatric care." People at the service grabbed the woman and turned her over to police.
Brother Roger’s funeral will take place on Tuesday, August 23. Until then, his body will be placed in the church each afternoon “so that all who wish may go and meditate close by him.”
The Swiss Protestant monk’s sudden and tragic death prompted an outpouring of grief from Anglican leaders around the world.

“With sadness and dismay we learned this morning of the death of Brother Roger of Taizé,” said the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles. “It is confusing and almost inexplicable that a man of holiness and peace would be struck down by someone acting in violence. I have watched personally as he has loved and calmed many storms at Taizé, and I know that all of the members of this diocese who have ever been to Taizé or listened to the music or sung the chants will grieve with us at the diocesan office as we experience this senseless act of anger. We will pray for the members of the community of Taizé and will offer any help that is available.
“Sadness is the note of the day, but we know that Brother Roger sits in heaven with God.”
The story of Brother Roger was told in an article about the Taizé community published in the Spring 2005 issue of The Episcopal News.

“Having first visited Taizé more than forty years ago as a student, and having followed its unfolding as a community of witness to God's reconciling power and love, and knowing how much it owes to the vision and prayer of its founder, Brother Roger, I am profoundly distressed by his death and the manner in which it occurred,” said Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. “For such a man of peace to meet a violent end while at prayer with his brothers and young pilgrims recalls the mystery of the Cross in stark and unambiguous terms.

“Some years ago Brother Roger inscribed the Sign of the Cross in the palm of my hand, urging me to remain young in heart,” Griswold continued. “May his youthful spirit and unwavering hope, rooted so deeply in Christ, be his continuing legacy both to his community and to the churches as they seek to embody the unity for which Christ prayed in order that the world may believe.

“Roger, having died in Christ, now lives in Christ. Amen. Alleluia.”

"This is an indescribable shock. Brother Roger was one of the best-loved Christian leaders of our time, and hundreds of thousands will be feeling his loss very personally, and remembering him in prayer and gratitude,” said Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. "But the shock and trauma for the community at Taizé will be heavy - as it will be for all the young people who witnessed this event. All of them are in our prayers."

“The news of the death of Brother Roger has saddened Anglicans around the world, and we are especially shocked by the violent manner of his death, which was in stark contrast to his lifelong ministry of peace and reconciliation,” said the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion. “The Taizé community which he founded, whose witness to ecumenism and reconciliation especially among young people will be his lasting memorial, has influenced Christian worship and spirituality worldwide, and it is to that Community that I extend our prayers and heartfelt sympathy at this time.”

“What a dreadful end to one of the finest men on the planet, who did more for reconciliation among Christians than anyone else I know,” wrote Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe. “May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”

"Brother Roger died as he lived, praying at the centre of his community," said World Council of Churches acting general secretary Geneviève Jacques, in a message of condolence sent to the Taizé community.

The Taizé community, founded in 1940 by Brother Roger when he was 25, became a safe haven for political refugees and people of all faiths, among them Jews fleeing the Holocaust. Since the late 1950s, thousands of young adults from many countries have come to Taizé to take part in weekly meetings of prayer and reflection. More than 100 Taizé brothers, committed to material and spiritual sharing, celibacy, and simplicity of life, make visits and lead meetings in Africa, North and South America, Asia, and in Europe, as part of what they call “a pilgrimage of trust on earth.” Eight years ago, Brother Roger designated Brother Alois to succeed him as the person in charge of the community.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing about this. Looks like the world has lost another healer.

pilar said...

my mother has gone 3 times to taize and I´ve sung some of their lovely music...can`t understand this evil action!