Thursday, September 07, 2006

Brother Roger

Was Taizé founder a secret Catholic?

Sep. 06 ( - The late Brother Roger Schutz, founder of the ecumenical Taizé community, quietly entered the Catholic Church in 1972, according to a story published in France by Le Monde.

The religious affiliation of Brother Roger became a subject of speculation last April, at the funeral of Pope John Paul II (bio - news), when the Taizé leader received Communion from then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Although he had been extremely sympathetic to Catholicism, at the time Brother Roger was still identified as a Protestant minister. The mystery deepened after Brother Roger was killed on August 16, 2005, when Cardinal Walter Kasper (bio - news) presided at a Catholic funeral.

Now Le Monde reports that Brother Roger was received into the Catholic Church in 1972 and confirmed by Bishop Raymond Séguy, who was then head of the Autun diocese in which the Taizé community is located.

Le Monde cites historian Yves Chiron as the source of this revelation. Brother Roger kept his conversion secret, Chiron says, in order to avoid upsetting the ecumenical harmony of the Taizé community.

Brother Alois, who succeeded Brother Roger as the leader of Taizé, told Le Monde that the report by Chiron was "inexact." He said that in 1972 his predecessor had received Communion in the Catholic Church for the first time, "without a 'conversion,' which was not requested of him." He explained that Brother Roger sought "communion" with the Catholic Church, but avoided the term "conversion," because it would "imply a break with his roots."