In the last couple of days several blogs have written about the late Brother Roger of Taizé… The interest began with a post over at the widely-read blog (I am a reader myself!) Rorate Coeli in an article by Carlos Palad (Both Catholic and Calvinist?) in the aftermath of an article appearing in L’Osservatore Romano: Was the Founder of Taizé Protestant, or Catholic? A Cardinal Solves the Riddle.
Shortly after the Palad post responses and thoughts were offered by Drs. Blosser & Liccione at The Pertinacious Papist (Catholic & Calvinist?) and Sacramentum Vitae (The case of Br. Roger) respectively. (Both blogs also found on my aggregator!)
While I read, respect, and look forward to all three bloggers work and don’t toil under any illusion that my posts at The Black Cordelias are in the same league… (It is a cheeky little blog that is best described as a “Potpourri of Popery”)… Well it occurs to me that the question to be asked is “How accurate is the little article that started this whole series of posts?” For my part, I think the answer is “Not very!”
In another forum a reader astutely pointed out an article from a newspaper called The Remnant, which is hardly favorable to the Taizé community or Br. Roger Schutz. Either way, the author of the article had taken the time to research and to confirm that Br. Roger had indeed become a Catholic, criticizing only the way he went about it (emphasis mine):
… This “passage”, this conversion, took place in 1972, in the chapel of the Bishop of Autun, the diocese where Taizé is located. There was a profession of the Catholic Faith then Communion was given by Mgr. Le Bourgeois.
No written certificate remains, it seems, of that event, but Brother Roger has given oral testimony of it and of his adherence to the Catholic Faith to the successor of Mgr. Le Bourgeois, Mgr Séguy.
Later on, Catholic practices like Eucharistic adoration and the Sacrament of Confession were established in the Taizé Community. Roger Schutz, having become Catholic, evidently no longer celebrated the Protestant service at Taizé or anywhere else and, since he did not become a priest, he received holy Communion only from a Catholic priest. “For that which concerns the ministry of the Pope, he declared and wrote that the unity of Christians centers on the pastor of the Church of Christ, who is the Bishop of Rome.” 3
Roger Schutz liked to say: “I have found my proper Christian identity in reconciling in myself the faith of my past with the mystery of the Catholic Faith, without rupturing communion with anyone.” (from an allocution of Pope John Paul in 1980 at the time of his Meeting with European Youth in Rome). The expression, repeated again in his last book (God Can Only Love), could be judged to be very unsatisfactory because it says nothing of the retractions necessary for a conversion. But Roger Schutz was not a theologian.
It is true that this secrecy of his conversion has not the limpidity and the solemnity of an abjuration. But who dares to doubt his sincerity? Cardinal Ratzinger, in giving him Communion in April 2005, certainly acted with full knowledge of the facts. And it is bad form to accuse him still today of “having given communion to a Protestant.”
The real question I believe that needs to be asked isn’t “Was Br. Roger both a Catholic and Calvinist?” but “Is this L’Osservatore Romano article accurate?” Also worth asking “What does this representation tell us about +Kasper’s thinking if he is quoted accurately?
I will put my cards all out on the table and say plainly that this Greek Catholic is looking well forward to Cardinal Kasper’s retirement… Out of respect for his office and his boss… Well, that is all I have to say about that.
That being said, I think that the facts rather speak for themselves – Brother Roger was received privately into the Catholic Church, he made a Catholic profession of faith, after such time he ceased to preside or attend non-Catholic Eucharistic services, he attended Mass daily, received communion daily, and went to confession.
Brother Roger was Catholic.