.- 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.