Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Roger of Taize
Brother Roger of Taize was murdered by an insane woman not long after Pope John Paul II's death. A mild controversy arose at the Pope's funeral when Brother Roger received Holy Communion at the funeral Mass from none other than Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI. Though a public action, I assumed there must have been some understanding or dispensation to allow a Protestant monk to communicate. It later turned out, after Roger's death, that he had, quite awhile back, come into union with the Roman Catholic Church.
That news was not surprising to me since the religious of Taize, though Protestant, seem to be very close to the Catholic Church, which is apparent by their embrace of monastic life. Brother Roger was undoubtedly a man of deep prayer and spirituality. After his death Pope Benedict spoke of him as being in heaven.
Catholic News has an article clarifying the nature of his entering into communion with the Catholic Church. His confreres at Taize insist it was not a conversion, but an entering into union with the Church, therefore he had no need of repudiating his Protestant heritage. Here is a portion of that article:
"The ecumenical Community of Taize issued a statement last week denying its founder, the late Brother Roger Schutz, underwent a “conversion” to the Catholic faith, saying instead he entered “progressively into a full communion with the faith of the Catholic Church without a ‘conversion’ that would imply a break with his origins.”
The statement denies a story in the French newspaper “Le Monde,” which the Taize Community said was based on a rumor spread “by Catholic traditionalist circles” and that “misrepresents his true intentions and defames his memory.”
The Taize leaders point out that the Bishop Emeritus of Autun, Raymond Seguy, has clarified his statements to Le Monde, telling France Presse: "I did not say that Brother Roger abjured Protestantism, but he showed that he subscribed fully to the Catholic faith."
“From a Protestant background, Brother Roger undertook a step that was without precedent since the Reformation: entering progressively into a full communion with the faith of the Catholic Church without a ‘conversion’ that would imply a break with his origins,” the statement notes.
It goes on to explain that in 1972, “the bishop of Autun at the time, Armand Le Bourgeois, simply gave him Communion for the first time, without requiring any other profession of faith from him besides the creed recited during the Eucharist, which is held in common by all Christians. Several witnesses were present and can attest to this.” [snip] "Taize leaders deny “conversion” of Brother Roger to Catholic faith" CNA
This news in itself will renew the controversy surrounding Roger, yet it explains why the monk of Taize was able to receive Communion at the Holy Father's funeral. His union with Rome may have been kept quiet for pastoral reasons, known only to those involved. It is my understanding that dispensations and special circumstances allow for many things in the Church, hence the union of Br. Roger of Taize with Rome may have been considered private. Despite the fact one's profession of faith is a public witness. It's another difficulty to understand, isn't it? Then again, it could be his brothers at Taize were not pleased with Roger's choice and seek to downplay the union with Rome thing. Perhaps it is better left to heaven to figure out.