Meeting in Berlin

30 000 young adults on the road towards a new solidarity

30,000 young adults gathered in Berlin from 28 December to 1 January for the 34th stage of the "pilgrimage of trust" led by the Taizé Community. Welcomed by the churches and the people of Berlin, young people from all over Europe and other continents sought an impetus towards a new solidarity. Prayer together as well as reflection and discussion on various spiritual, social, artistic, political and economic topics marked the meeting, held for the first time in the German capital.

For five days, the German capital was a crossroads of Europe’s young people and a symbol of a united Europe. The Berlin meeting took place at a moment when Europe is in need of a new breath of life and when many people are questioning the foundations and the limits of European solidarity.

To help with a humanitarian project in North Korea organized by the Taizé Community, the young people participating in the meeting were invited to bring to Berlin simple medical equipment and medicines, which were sent afterwards to hospitals and clinics in rural areas of the country.

Upon their arrival, participants received a letter from Brother Alois, prior of the Taizé Community, entitled Towards a New Solidarity: " Although human solidarity has always been necessary, it needs to be constantly renewed and rejuvenated by being expressed in new ways," writes Brother Alois in this letter, which has been translated into over fifty languages. Faced with the upheavals in the global economy, changes in the geopolitical balance of power, and increasing inequality, the prior of Taizé asks a question: "Could this be a reason to reflect more on the choices we make for our lives?" Every morning, young people gathered in 160 parishes and reflected with the Berliners who welcomed them on the different themes of this letter from Taizé for 2012: trust between people, trust in God, the “Christ of communion”, trying to be "salt of the earth."

On the afternoons of December 29 and 30, the program of the meeting proposed a list of fifteen topics to choose from. In one of these workshops, two brothers of the community discussed the life and vision of Brother Roger, the founder of Taizé (1915-2005). In another, participants were able to meet witnesses from the time of the Berlin Wall and visit the site of the wall with Berliners. Learning about a service to support refugees, visiting the "Bode Museum," listening to a concert or sharing about the place of youth in today’s society were other opportunities available. The words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945): "Before God and with God we live without God" was the theme for a workshop with those who want to talk about faith in a world where God apparently has no longer any role to play. A meeting with the Jewish community of Berlin and a visit to a large mosque were also proposed.

On the afternoon of December 31 there were meetings by country or region of origin. These meetings, led by the brothers of Taizé, investigated how to continue a "pilgrimage of trust" back home and how to go forward together towards a new solidarity.

During the meeting, the participants met every day at 1:15pm and 7:00pm in the Berlin exhibition grounds for common prayer, held in four large pavilions specially decorated for the occasion. Brother Alois spoke to the young people every night during evening prayer; his meditations are published on this page:
Meditations by Brother Alois.

Brother Roger, founder of the Taizé Community, initiated the “Pilgrimage of Trust on Earth” thirty years ago, to stimulate young people to be bearers of peace, of trust and of reconciliation in the places where they live. He was able to visit East Berlin in 1986, three years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, for a meeting that brought together six thousand young adults from East Germany. It was necessary to ask permission from the communist authorities of East Germany to celebrate a prayer service simultaneously in the Catholic Cathedral and a large Protestant Church of the city. Permission was given, with the condition that no participants from the West were allowed. This period has come to an end and Berlin is now the symbol of the process of unification of Germany and of Europe.

Last updated: 15 January 2012