Pentecost 2019

Make sure that Taizé remains a place of trust

Thursday 13 June 2019 | Taizé, Church of Reconciliation

This week began with the celebration last Sunday of Pentecost, a feast that is closely linked to the joy of Easter. In fact, Pentecost marks as it were the accomplishment of the Easter Season: Jesus has overcome death. He is alive in God’s presence. Suffering, hatred, and violence have not had the last word.

By this feast of Pentecost, we remember a promise that Jesus made. Before his death, he had announced to his disciples in a mysterious way that he would send them Someone Else, who would always be with them. This is something that he announces to us as well. And this Someone Else is the Holy Spirit, who is united to every human being.

Nevertheless, just before his death, Christ had the terrible experience of being forsaken. We know how his disciples left him almost alone at the hardest moment of his existence. Apart from Mary, his mother, two other women, and one of his disciples, everyone left him.

When, risen from the dead, he comes to them again, they have to recognize their failure, even though they had declared beforehand that they would be ready to die with him. But Jesus does not allow them to stay there. He reconnects with them. He renews their trust. And he sends them out into the world.

Now I want to say something about a serious question that we have already spoken of over the last few days. I think you know that as a community we are going through a painful moment in our history. Ten days ago, I informed the judicial authorities of five allegations of sexual abuse, committed by three brothers against minors, in the years 1950 to 1980.

With my brothers, we are seized with an immense sadness thinking about the people who were victimss. It is first of all for their sake that we believe we have to work through the truth in this way, and look at these incidents head on.

Without having experienced something of that kind, it is hard for us to realize how difficult it is for the people who have been wounded in this way to speak about it. Often, it is only after a very long time that the words to do so can come to the surface. When I heard the first account – and it was the same with the subsequent ones – our first priority was to listen to each person in a total respect for their words.

Recently, we spoke to the survivors in order to tell them that we had to go further. So we have taken another step, a difficult but necessary one: that of informing the judicial authorities, and of speaking publicly about what happened. It seems to me that only by doing this can we help make sure that Taizé remains a place of trust.

So many young people, and older people too, discover or rediscover here a trust in God and trust in others! We would like to do everything we can so that you can find the joy and freedom that comes from faith. But, to borrow the words of the Apostle Paul, we certainly have to say: this treasure of God’s presence is something that we, as brothers, bear in jars of clay.

This evening, I would like to ask you: please never suppose that we are spiritual masters who have already reached the goal. By our community life, we would like to express the hope we live by. But we go forward in the footsteps of Jesus as the poor of the Gospel, with our weaknesses, our faults, and the wounds of our history.
Of course, these weaknesses could never in any way justify any act of abuse; and I totally condemn any kind of abuse of authority by a brother which wounds the integrity of anyone.

We do not make any claim to be more advanced or better than anyone else. What unites us is the choice to belong to Christ. By making that choice, we receive a great responsibility: we want to be entirely coherent with this choice, and in faith go forward together with you.

If any of you feel you need to talk more about this, some of the brothers together with sisters, priests and pastors, will be available to listen here in the church, every evening and also tomorrow afternoon at 5:30pm.

To finish, I would like to share some good news with you. On Saturday, a young man will be entering our community. His name is Petr, and he comes from the Czech Republic. He will be receiving the white prayer robe during the evening prayer. Over the last few days we have already been singing a song in Czech« Staňte se soli, soli země » / “Be the salt of the earth:”

We would like all of you to sense this certainty: God welcomes us as we are. He stands beside those who suffer. He would like to share with us a joy that lasts.

Last updated: 20 June 2019