Ecumenism Of Holiness

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The founder, then aged 90, died after being attacked with a knife by a woman said by police to be mentally disturbed during evening prayers on 16 August 2005 at Taizé, near Macon in Burgundy. In the early years of the Second World War, Schütz, a Swiss Protestant, had arrived in the village of Taizé on 20 August 1940 with the idea of founding an ecumenical monastic community. “With him and the brothers who shared his vision and his tension, Taizé has become a true centre, a focal point and a place of gathering; a place of deepening in prayer, of listening and humility,” said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I, a spiritual leader in Eastern Orthodoxy.

From the 1960s onwards, thousands of young people, initially from Europe and then from further afield, made their way to Taizé to experience its ecumenical spirituality. The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, described the community, “as a model for attending to the spiritual and physical needs of the whole people of God and, in particular, the needs of young people.”

After Schütz’s death, Brother Alois, a German Catholic, became Prior of the community. “Today, at Taizé, a hundred Brothers, Catholics and Protestants, live together. And the community is often visited by young believers from the Orthodox churches,” stated Patriarch Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church. “The thousands of young people who visit Taizé and take part in the meetings organized each year by the community in various European countries show convincingly that the Gospel message of God’s love can still find a living echo in people’s hearts today,” he said. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, described Schütz as, “one of the few figures who truly changed the climate of a religious culture, not by the exercise either of force or of cheap popularity, but by a lifelong practice of Christ-like authority.”

During his life, Schütz also became close to the Roman Catholic Church. Shortly before his death, Schütz attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Rome, where he received the Catholic Eucharist from the hands of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would become Pope Benedict XVI.  

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