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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Messages from Taizé I would like to provide an excerpt from the text of the most recent Thursday night meeting between Brother Alois and the young people visting Taizé. First, I should note that there are two responses on the website of Taizé to the recent well-publicized claims of the historian Yves Chiron that the late Brother Roger secretly converted to the Roman Catholic Church. One is from Msgr Gérard Daucourt, the Bishop of Nanterre. Another is from Pastor Gill Daudé of the French Protestant Federation. Pastor Daudé writes of Brother Roger: Some Protestants often want to catholicise him; some Catholics want to see in this a conversion (like a “Hooray! We won!”) where he saw a reconciliation, a communion without a break. Categorizing what he did not wish to categorize is a convenient way of avoiding letting ourselves be questioned by a step of reconciliation that disturbs us because it calls on us to move. We would do better – according to the Gospel - to try to enter into such a step of healing for our confessional exclusions. Our Christian landscape and our limited mentalities are such that we have difficulty in thinking of reconciliation between the two: if you are Catholic then you are no longer Protestant; and if you are Protestant you are no longer Catholic. This is the institutional and formal reality of our Churches. It is also their sin. Brother Roger had entered into a step that was post-confessional or to say it differently, of overcoming these confessional splits. That appears unusual to us, it seems to go beyond what we are able imagine, but that was the step he made. But here is Brother Alois, on a rather different subject, from last Thursday: At the beginning of next week, one of the brothers and I will be leaving for a long journey that will take us first of all to Bangladesh. Several of our Taizé brothers have been living there for nearly thirty years. They share the daily life of the poorest and most abandoned in a city called Mymensingh. We shall go and spend two weeks with them. One of them wrote recently, “We are discovering that those who are rejected by society because of their weakness and apparent uselessness are a presence of God. If we welcome them, they lead us progressively out of a world of competition where we need to do great things, towards a world of communion of hearts, a life that is simple and joyful, where we do small things with love.” The brother went on, “Our presence in Bangladesh wishes to be a sign that the service of our vulnerable brothers and sisters opens a way of peace and unity. Sometimes it is the poorest that bring us together. Welcoming one another in the rich diversity of religions and cultures, serving the poor together, prepares a future of peace.” ... In a city [Brother Alois now speaks of Calcutta, where there will be a meeting in early October] where there is so much poverty, the immense problems can feed a sentiment of fatalism. But we shall also be opening our eyes to the signs of hope. And we know that we can perceive that hope even in places where there exists the greatest human suffering. Hope is borne by people who dare to believe that God is stronger than evil; that he is at work in the world and that he is creating what is new. This is true for every one of us, wherever we are. With very few means, God makes us creators with him. Christ Jesus, born poor among the poor, gives us the courage to begin, there even where circumstances are not favourable. He sends us with our human frailty to communicate through our lives a mystery of hope.

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