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Wednesday, December 7, 2016
The world mourns Brother Roger
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 More than 10,000 people yesterday attended the funeral of Brother Roger, the founder of the religious community of Taizé in eastern France. Brother Roger died after being stabbed by a mentally-ill woman at a service last week. German President Horst Koehler, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and clergy from around the world attended. A giant video screen was set up outside the community's church in Taizé, where the funeral took place, for thousands who could not get in. The service was jointly led by Cardinal Walter Kasper and Brother Roger's successor, Brother Alois Leser. "Merciful God, we ask you to forgive Luminita Solcan who, in an act of illness, took the life of our Brother Roger," Brother Alois said. Tributes to Brother Roger have been pouring in from around the world since the tragedy took place last Tuesday. At World Youth Day in Cologne, large crowds gathered each day at the Church of St Agnes where the Taizé community lead prayers. In a message expressing his sadness, Pope Benedict said that only a few days earlier he had received a letter from Brother Roger regretting that he was not able to come to Cologne as he was too frail. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said in a statement: "I was deeply saddened to hear of the tragic death of Brother Roger. "I know from visiting Taizé what a remarkable Christian witness he gave amidst the community which he founded." The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said: "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. "But the shock and trauma for the community at Taizé will be heavy - and it will be for all the young people who witnessed this event. All of them are in our prayers." Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham said: "The brutal murder of Brother Roger of Taizé is tragic. The manner of his death is in direct contrast with the gentleness and selflessness of his long life. "His sudden death is an immense loss because of his inspiration to young people and to ecumenism." Archbishop Nichols added: "I am sure that the Taizé community will continue to grow from strength to strength in the years to come." Father Richard McKay, Parish Priest of St Nicholas of Tolentino in Easton, Bristol took the following message to the Taizé ecumenical community from the Bishop of Clifton, Right Reverend Declan Lang when he attended the funeral. "I was saddened to hear about the shocking death of Brother Roger. I would like to assure you and the community at Taizé of my prayers for him and for yourselves. "I especially remember the young people who were gathered in prayer and who must have found the attack on Brother Roger a very harrowing moment. "I think Brother Roger was one of the great inspirational and ecumenical figures of the Church who worked tirelessly to reconcile people whenever and wherever there was division due to religion, race or culture. He, with the members of the community at Taizé, made it a place of prayer, friendship and hope in what is still a fractured world. "Thank God for the presence of Brother Roger amongst us, whose influence went far beyond Taizé to touch the lives of many people and communities throughout the world. May Roger come to the fullness of his live in the peace of God." The Bishop of Clogher, in Ireland, Dr Joseph Duffy, said: "On behalf of my brother bishops, I wish to express our great sadness and shock at the death of Brother Roger during a prayer service in Taizé, France. "Although he died as a result of a violent attack, his life was one of complete commitment to a peaceful and united world. This was never more evident than when he was joined daily, by thousands of young people of different faiths, themselves searching for that vision. "Brother Roger was one of the great religious figures of the 20th century. His legacy will continue to live in the music associated with Taizé, in the many local prayer groups in Ireland and across the world which have taken Taizé as their model, but most of all in his unique vision of a united and reconciled world. "It was a mark of the high regard in which he was held by the Catholic Church that Brother Roger enjoyed a close relationship with all of the recent Popes. He received Holy Communion from Pope Benedict XVI at his installation in April 2005." Bishop Duffy concluded: "May he now enjoy, for eternity, the peace and intimacy with God which so marked his earthly life."
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