Bishop William Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops joined Pope Benedict XVI and much of the Christian community in expressing shock and sorrow at the surprise killing of Brother Roger Schutz, founder of France’s ecumenical Taizé community on Tuesday.
In a letter to Brother Aloïs, Brother Roger’s successor, Spokane Washington’s Bishop Skylstad expressed “the great sadness that we experienced on receiving the horrific news that Brother Roger Schutz was killed during Evening Prayer on August 15, 2005, in the monastery’s Church of the Reconciliation.”
He noted that “When he visited Taizé in 1986, Pope John Paul II recalled that Pope John XXIII referred to Taizé as ‘that little springtime.’”
“It is our prayer”, he said, “that the community of Taizé, inspired by the vision of its founder Br. Roger, grounded as it was in Christian charity and prayer, continue to be “that little springtime” which, though small, has already brought hopes and has established a deep longing for reconciliation and unity of all disciples of Christ.”
Bishop Skylstad also assured the community of the U.S. bishop’s “profoundest sentiments as we share in your suffering and loss. One with Br. Roger and the community in a firm faith in the Resurrection, we recommit ourselves to the communion to which he bore witness in life and death.”
Authorities have not yet confirmed the name of the 36-year old woman who fatally slit Brother Roger’s throat in front of some 2,500 onlookers on Tuesday, but say that she has been placed under formal investigation.
Schutz founded the Taizé community in 1940, where he began welcoming Christian 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.
Brother Roger’s body is available for viewing in Burgundy’s Church of Reconciliation where the stabbing occurred. He is scheduled to be buried next week.