Taize, France, Aug 17, 2005 (CNA) - Catholics and Protestants alike are shocked today at the stabbing to death of Brother Roger Schultz, founder of the well respected ecumenical Taizé monastic community in eastern France.
According to reports, a 36-year old Romanian woman overpowered and stabbed Brother Roger, 90, three times in the throat during a prayer service in front of some 2,500 pilgrims at Reconciliation Church in Burgundy.
Catholic leaders at Cologne’s World Youth Day, as well as other religious leaders have expressed shock and sorrow at the death of the Swiss-born pastor.
Heiner Koch, secretary general for WYD said in a statement that, “Brother Roger has always been closely attached to the Catholic Church…We were all happy and grateful that he attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II."
Pope Benedict, who will be in Cologne this week, called the killing “a very sad piece of news which touches me all the more in that I received only yesterday a moving letter from him.”
The Pontiff also revealed that, in the letter Brother Roger wrote, he had “ the desire to come to Rome as soon as possible to meet with me and to tell me that ‘our Taizé community wishes to walk along in communion with the Holy Father.”
In this time of sorrow, the pope added, we can only commend to the Lords goodness, the soul of his faithful servant. We know for sure, that from sorrow, as we just heard in the psalm, joy will arise again.”
Brother Schultz is into the hands of his everlasting kindness and love, he reached eternal joy. He invites us and exhorts us to be faithful workers in the Lords vineyard in sad situations as well, assured that the Lord accompanies us and grants us his joy” the Pope concluded
The Taizé community was founded in 1940 after Roger Schutz bought a small house in the village of Taizé, where he began welcoming refugees from World War II.
Today, thousands of Christians--particularly young people--travel to France to take part in the community’s prayer and song. It has likewise been visited by prominent religious leaders including the late John Paul II, and numerous bishops, metropolitans and pastors from around the world.
The death of Br. Roger was a shock to many World Youth Day pilgrims. About 1,000 of them spent three days to one week at Taizé on their way to Cologne. Many others are familiar with the community and its form of meditation, and had plans to participate in the community’s prayer gatherings in Cologne.
Roger Schutz was born and raised in Switzerland. He moved to France and founded his community in 1940 at the age of 25. The mission of the community is to help bring about reconciliation and help others grow in the trust of God.
The community now has more than 100 brothers from various Christian denominations, living in France, Brazil, Senegal and South Korea.
While Br. Roger was not himself Catholic, he was closely associated to the Catholic Church. He and his community were highly esteemed by Pope John Paul II. The two were longtime friends, and Br. Roger received Communion from then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at John Paul’s funeral.
A communiqué issued by the community says that the woman was "probably mentally disturbed."
The brothers thanked all those who have offered support by their affection and prayer.
On the morning of Aug. 17, the following prayer was read in the church: "Christ of compassion, you enable us to be in communion with those who have gone before us, and who can remain so close to us. We entrust into your hands our Brother Roger. He already contemplates the invisible. In his footsteps, you are preparing us to welcome a radiance of your brightness."
Br. Roger's funeral will be held Aug. 23 at 2 p.m. Until then, his body will be placed in the church of Taizé. All may pray by his body each afternoon, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Eight years ago, Br. Roger designated Br. Alois to succeed him, as the person in charge of the community. Br. Alois began his ministry immediately.
Cologne, Germany, Aug 17, 2005 (CNA) - World Youth Day (WYD) 2005 officially began yesterday afternoon with the opening masses in three large stadiums in Cologne and the surrounding region.
More than 100,000 pilgrims attended the mass with Bishop Franz-Josef Bode at the Hofgarten in Bonn. The masses at the Rhein-Energie Stadium with Cardinal Joachim Meisner and at the LTU Arena with Cardinal Karl Lehmann counted more than 50,000 people each.
The pilgrims’ cheering and singing before and after the mass at the Rhein-Energie Stadium was deafening. Pilgrims began streaming in at about 3 p.m. Once there, they waved flags, chanted, and danced to the music provided by performers.
They were equally enthusiastic as they welcomed Cardinal Meisner, about another 20 bishops and more than 100 priests for the 5 p.m. mass. The WYD Cross was processed to the stage and placed behind the altar.
Once the multilingual mass began, however, pilgrims quickly became attentive and adopted a quiet, prayerful spirit.
The homily of each celebrant focused on the theme of vocations and God’s personal call for each individual.
WYD is for the whole world
“We are celebrating the first World Youth Day with two Popes: with Pope John Paul II in heaven above, and with our Pope Benedict XVI here on earth. What an amazing celebration of faith this will be!” Cardinal Meisner told the young people, who broke out in cheers and applause.
“You, dear brothers and sisters, have been drawn by the Father,” the cardinal said in his homily. “That is the ultimate reason why you are here in Cologne.
“Your presence here is the result of an act of mercy by God. And I promise you sincerely: He will therefore remain your leader. He will turn you into a blessing for your environment, your fatherland, for the whole world, and guide you in bringing the world closer to God,” he said.
“World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne is not just a purely Catholic event,” he said. “It concerns the whole world. Christ is not a Christian property agent—he is the Lord of the world. And this week, we will be searching for Christ not just for our own benefit, but especially for that of our other brothers and sisters so that they may experience the joy of faith in Christ.
In Düsseldorf, Cardinal Lehmann remarked on the number of young people who continue to attend WYD, even 20 years after it was initiated.
He urged young people to develop the ability to distinguish those signs that come from the Holy Spirit and those that originate from within oneself or in one’s environment.
“There are indeed many different callings that we hear in the bustle of many voices,” he said. “The calling of God always demands courage precisely because he means exactly us, without us being able to change or trade places”.
‘Lamp of God’ shines still in youth’
At the Hofgarten in Bonn, Bishop Bode shared the German people’s desire to journey with the young pilgrims in faith.
“The lamp of God is not yet extinguished. And this week you are showing the whole Church and the whole world that the Church is alive and that young people are willing to listen to God,” he said.
“You have come from over 160 countries around the globe; you have come to our Europe, to our country, where Christ is not always easy to find and where one can easily lose sight of the star,” he said.
“But we in Germany will not be your ‘Jerusalem’, your Herod, or your scribes, who knew where the Christ child was, but did not themselves set out to find Him, preferring instead to stay in their towers of power and knowledge.
“No, we in Germany want to walk with you, want to set out with you, want to seek and find with you, want to let ourselves be guided by the star that God has shown us, and want to go with you to Bethlehem to find Christ,” he continued
During the offertory procession in Cologne, young people brought objects that represented the life of the region: coal to represent the importance of the mining industry in the region; a small barrel of beer to represent the fruit of the harvest; a typical hat used during carnival to represent the people’s spirit of celebration; and bread and vegetables to represent what the young people would like to give to those in need.
The pilgrims began their festive singing and dancing at the end of the nearly two-hour mass. They took their celebration onto the streets, and packed the trains, buses and tramcars to return to their lodging.
At one point, the public transportation system gave out under the pressure and vehicles stood at a standstill for long periods of time. It took some pilgrims more than three hours to return to their lodging.
Cologne, Germany, Aug 17, 2005 (CNA) - Australian youth received news from their prime minister, John Howard, that the next World Youth Day is set to take place in Australia.
Following a service at the Cologne Exhibition Center, attended by 1,600 Australian youth, organizers screened a videotaped message by the prime minister, expressing his pleasure that the next WYD will be in Australia. Rumors had been circulating to this effect for about the last six months.
The young Australians burst out into cheers and, after the prayer service, carried their celebration into the streets of Cologne.
Pope Benedict XVI is yet to confirm the news. He is expected to announce the location of the next WYD at the final mass, Aug. 21.
Speaking with CNA, Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney said, “The hope for all Australia is that the Holy Father will announce Sydney as the next host for World Youth day, but we still do not know; we must wait until Sunday.”
Bishop Fisher said the Australian delegation in Cologne this year represents the largest ever from that country to attend a World Youth Day. “The young people are very enthusiastic and are having a wonderful time. The German families have given them a tremendous welcome and they are thrilled. The reception we have received from German families has been quite edifying,” he added, noting the example of one family that opened its home to him. “After being with them for only three days, they wept with emotion as I left to come to Cologne,” he said.
Regarding to possibility that Mel Gibson might direct “The Passion of the Christ” in the streets of Sydney, Bishop Fisher said the actor had been contacted but that it was “too early to confirm anything” and that the necessary discussions would take place if and when the host city for WYD 2008 is confirmed.
Los Angeles, Calif., Aug 17, 2005 (CNA) - A California judge has ruled that an Episcopal parish who wants to disassociate itself from the L.A. diocese over the denomination’s policy of ordaining gay pastors will get to keep its property.
Judge David C. Velasquez of the Orange County Superior Court ruled that the actions of St. James Parish in Newport Beach were protected by freedom of speech and that they can retain possession of their buildings, property and financial records.
The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, part of the worldwide Anglican communion filed the lawsuit against St. James after the parish, along with three others in the area, voted to break off from the U.S.-based denomination over the 2002 ordination of actively homosexual New Hampshire bishop Gene Robinson.
The parish had contacted the Anglican Church in Uganda asking that they be taken under the jurisdiction of that diocese.
Rev. Praveen Bunyan, pastor of St. James said in a statement Monday, that "It is a great relief to the loyal members of our church to ... know that the sanctuary and grounds where we gather every Sunday will remain a safe harbor for us."
The diocese is also pending lawsuits against two other parishes - All Saints' Church in Long Beach and St. David's Church in North Hollywood - for their attempts to separate themselves from the denomination.
Lawrence Ebiner, attorney for the diocese, said Monday that the church has not decided whether or not they will appeal the decision.
Boston, Mass., Aug 17, 2005 (CNA) - The Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic watchdog group, is calling for the removal of 18 academics who they say, “perpetuate a culture of death” by their public support of abortion and the recent starvation death of brain damaged Terri Schiavo.
The group has specifically targeted Catholic institutions like Boston College and Georgetown University, both of which they say, risk being "stripped of [their] Catholic identity by the bishop who has authority over that college."
In an eight page letter sent to some 75,000 recipients throughout this past spring and summer, Eugene Diamond, former president of the Catholic Medical Association, wrote that "It is for us to raise our voice in defense of the truth and demand that authentic Catholic doctrine be brought back to our beloved universities and colleges."
"And the most natural first response to such dishonesty and underhandedness”, he continued, “is anger!"
The Virginia based Newman Society urges Catholic colleges and universities to remain faithful to the teaching and Magisterium of the Catholic Church.
The letter specifically names Rev. John Paris, a bioethics professor and Catholic priest at Boston College, and Charles Baron and Milton Heifetz, who are both Jewish professors at BC's law school.
In a statement, Boston College officials said that the college is "firmly committed to its Jesuit, Catholic mission and heritage" and "openly engages issues of the day, especially those concerning faith and culture."
They said that, "The publicity-seeking rhetoric and unfounded accusations of the Cardinal Newman Society are a disservice to Catholic colleges and universities and the church that they proudly serve."
Likewise, Fr. Paris called the Society a "a self-appointed vigilante committee," and said that "They neither represent the church nor the academic community…and yet they want to censor the academic community in the name of the church."
The Cardinal Newman Society pointed out that the three Boston College professors, along with Carol Bayley, a nursing professor at the University of San Francisco; Lawrence Nelson, a philosophy professor at Santa Clara University, and; James Walter, chairman of the Bioethics Institute at Loyola Marymount University, (all Catholic schools) signed a letter to the Florida Supreme Court urging Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube to be removed last spring.
Schiavo was killed in March after her husband won a years-long battle to have his wife’s feeding tube--her only means to food and water--to be removed, thereby ending her life.
The Catholic Church publicly condemned the action, calling it an inhumane death sentence.
The Catholic Church also unequivocally condemns abortion, which Diamond’s letter points out, many of the listed professors have publicly supported.
The letter also names 12 more professors at various Catholic institutions around the country who, they say, are publicly unfaithful to Church teachings.
Cologne, Germany, Aug 17, 2005 (CNA) - It’s not always easy being away from home, family and friends and in a new environment, even if it’s one of friendliness and celebration, say World Youth Day organizers. That is why WYD decided to offer a 24-hour help line.
“One can feel incredibly lost in a euphoric crowd,” especially when one is not feeling very good, says Annelie Bracke.
The director of the WYD help line recognizes that some pilgrims may be living through a stressful period in their personal lives and being around laughter and singing all the time may be difficult. Bracke says several pilgrims have already made use of the service.
The service, offered in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Russian, can also help with issues that arise from culture shock.
This is the first time such a service is offered at the international youth gathering.
, Aug 17, 2005 (CNA) - The Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer blasted the magazine Glamour yesterday for an article which denies the scientific link between abortion and breast cancer.
In an August issue, the Coalition stated, the magazine erroneously claimed that the link between abortion and breast cancer (ABC) had been “disproved.”
"We challenge Glamour to find just one scientist who has disproved the biological explanation for the link," said Karen Malec, president of the women’s group . "No scientist dares to challenge the explanation because it makes good physiological sense."
"Glamour's journalists”, she added, “have moral and professional obligations to retract their erroneous statement and inform readers that five medical groups and a bioethics group recognize the link."
The Coalition cited British researcher Patrick Carroll who, presented “new research to the Joint Statistical Meetings in Minneapolis on August 10 showing abortion to be the 'best predictor of British breast cancer trends'?”
“Why”, Malec asked, “do governmental agencies continue to spend millions of tax dollars on ABC research?"
The group also cited, among other sources, abortion industry expert Lynn Rosenberg, of Boston Medical School, who “was compelled to acknowledge under oath that the woman who chooses abortion has a greater risk for breast cancer than does the woman who has a child.”
Rome, Italy, Aug 17, 2005 (CNA) - According to a German media publication, Vatican Radio is planning to produce a dramatic radio series, similar to the popular radio theater programs, on the life of Pope Benedict XVI.
According to the magazine Funkkorrespondenz, the Italian-language programs will help familiarize the faithful with the biography of the German Pope.
The producer of the series, Laura De Luca, has recruited 15 radio announcers who will read the parts of the various characters. The German journalist Bernhard Müller-Hülsebuch will be in the lead role. Müller-Hülsebuch has lived in Italy for 33 years and is from the same region as Pope Benedict.
According to De Luca, Müller-Hülsebuch “speaks Italian with a clear voice and a slight southern German accent.”
The first 13 episodes of “Benedict, The Life of Joseph Ratzinger” will cover his life up to 1977, when he still lived in Germany.
Among the characters in the series are the parents of the Pontiff, one of his teachers, and Cardinal Joseph Frings of Cologne, who made the future Pope his head theologian during the Second Vatican Council.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 17, 2005 (CNA) - Three priests of Irish origin and two Spanish seminarians assassinated during the Argentine military dictatorship could be raised to the altars if the cause that has been initiated by the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires proves they died for the faith.
Pedro Dufau, Alfredo Leaden and Alfie Kelly, all three priests from Ireland, and seminarians Salvador Barbeito and Emilio Barletti of Spain, were found dead from multiple gunshot wounds on July 4, 1976, at St. Patrick’s Parish.
Although the perpetrators of the crime were never officially discovered, local officials said members of the military were responsible for the killings.
The cause for canonization has been requested by members of the religious order to which the five men belonged, in order to prove that they died martyrs. Father Cesar Sturba, who is in charge of the ecclesiastical investigation, told the EFE news agency that “the canonization petition was made years ago, but the Archbishop has decided to authorize it now so that it does not become a historic case,” that is, one that has begun thirty years after the death of the person in question, thus falling under stricter requirements.
In addition to gathering testimonies from those who knew them, Father Sturba explained that it must be established that they have not received public veneration until now. “Its obvious that the process is arduous and could take many years, but the most important thing is that the first steps are now being taken,” he said.
Sao Paulo, Brazil, Aug 17, 2005 (CNA) - In an open and direct condemnation of abortion and euthanasia, the bishops of Brazil, gathered for their annual assembly in the city of Itaici, have approved a statement in defense of human life in all of its stages, from conception to natural death.
In their soon-to-be released statement, the bishops will call on Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to reject any law that attacks the right to life, such as a law in favor of any type of abortion.
In a letter sent by President Lula to the Bishops’ Conference of Brazil and read on the opening day of their assembly, the Brazilian president noted his “fidelity to the values of the Gospel and to the faith I received from his mother,” in an effort to ensure the bishops that although the government has promoted debate on certain issues of life, he would not sign any bill that constitutes an attack on human life.
Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, Archbishop of Salvador and President of the Conference, has requested to meet with President Lula next week in order to convey to him the conclusions reached by the bishops at their gathering and to reaffirm the Church’s position regarding Brazil’s political crisis and other problems, such as disarmament and abortion.