I’ve often wondered what sort of conversation Protestant Reformer John Calvin and Catholic Bishop Francis de Sales would have had if they had met. These humanist scholars were both trained in law, were both afire with the love of God, and both ended up in Geneva, Switzerland, though separated by a generation.
We call prayer at Taizé “common prayer,” not the “office,” which suggests a work obligation: “We do our office,” “We do what we ought to do.” That doesn’t correspond to the way we experience prayer in our lives. To say prayer is “common” is to say that it brings us together.
The Taizé community in eastern France has denied claims reported in the French newspaper Le Monde that its Swiss-born Protestant founder, Brother Roger Schutz, who died last year, had made a secret conversion to Roman Catholicism.
The enormous ecumenical impact of the Taizé community, with its haunting music and its tradition of silent prayer and meditative chant, is astonishing given that the community never promoted itself. No doubt many American Christians who have made the pilgrimage to Taizé had to suppress their initial disappointment at its unprepossessing buildings and casual presentation.
Almost everyone engaged in the search for Christian unity has at some point received important impulses from the Taizé community. And whoever speaks of Taizé is bound to speak of Roger Schutz (1915-2005), whose intuitions and initiatives turned the community into a focus and center of the ecumenical movement.
An estimated 12,000 Christians from many denominations attended the funeral of Brother Roger, the Protestant founder of the Taizé community in the picturesque Burgundy region of France. Presiding over the funeral Eucharist was Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s top ecumenical officer.