Taize leader emphasizes importance of ecumenism and trust
Br. Alois Leser / Photo Credit: Sabine Leutenegger
Br. Alois Leser / Photo Credit: Sabine Leutenegger

.- The importance of trust would be on founder Br. Roger's mind if he were at Taize's celebrations this weekend. The founder's successor as head of the ecumenical Taize community, Brother Alois, spoke with CNA about ecumenism, the close relationship of the Popes with the community and shared some of the founder's final thoughts.

German Br. Alois Leser is the Catholic prior of this France-based community which accepts people of all backgrounds, particularly Christian, to participate in spiritual activities. Working on the front lines for Christian unity, the group brings Protestants, Orthodox and Catholics together for shared reflections on the Word of God and his plan for each person.

"We have to be credible and as such we must be united," said Br. Alois of ecumenism, adding "how can we speak about the love of God and at the same time justify our separations?"

Following in founder Br. Roger Schutz' footsteps, this is one of the central questions that still drives the community today, he said.

Remembering back to the beginnings of the community in village of Taize, France 70 years ago this month, Br. Alois said that the original Protestant members created "links of communion" with the Catholic community.

These relationships also included a direct link to Rome. He explained, "Br. Roger was welcomed very warm-heartedly by Pope John XXIII and from then on he visited all the Popes and had regular contact with (them): Paul VI and then John Paul II."

Pope John Paul II even visited the community on an Apostolic Trip to France in 1986, having already spent time there when he was Archbishop of Krakow in the 1960s.

Br. Alois said that after close ties with the previous Popes, "now we are very glad that this regular contact continues with Pope Benedict XVI."

In each of the last five years since he took over the reigns after Br. Roger's tragic death in 2005, he has met with Pope Benedict in private audience.

He said the community was "very glad" to have received the message from Benedict XVI in the lead up to the community's anniversary celebrations this month, especially the part where the Pontiff refers to Br. Roger's witness for an "ecumenism of holiness."

The Holy Father wrote that "Although he has entered eternal joy, dear Brother Roger still speaks to us. May his witness to an ecumenism of holiness inspire us in our march towards unity, and may your Community continue to live and to radiate his charism, especially towards the younger generations!"

This, said Br. Alois, "means we want to live the Gospel, we want to be close to Christ. And when we all, from different backgrounds, turn together towards Christ then ... that's already the beginning of unity."

Turning to Br. Roger, he said that if the founder was there on Saturday for the 70th anniversary celebration, he would underline the necessity of trust, trusting in God and trusting others.

"This was one of his main messages at the end of his life," observed Br. Alois, "faith as trust in God and existential trust in God, and that (it) makes out of us makers of peace on Earth.

"This trust becomes a wellspring so that we overcome all borders and fulfill the will of Christ that his church unite people over all the borders - political, social, cultural borders - the Church is the people of God."

On Saturday evening, Br. Alois will be leading the community in celebrating its 70th anniversary and the five-year anniversary since Br. Roger's death.

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