To Bring Everything to Light

Tuesday October 22 | Taizé, Church Reconciliation

Just over a month ago, with more than 2,000 thousand young people from Africa and beyond, we were gathered for a youth meeting in South Africa, in Cape Town. It was a great joy for me to return to that great country that showed the world, 25 years ago, the strength of the non-violent protest against apartheid.

However, it must also be said that the situation in South Africa remains very complex today, in particular because of the divisions between the ethnic communities: the blacks, the whites, the coloured, have different ways of living and do not meet very often. The neighborhoods are separated and there are few ways to cross over.

In this context, a thousand families opening their doors to welcome more than two thousand young people from 31 countries, without knowing their origin in advance, was an extraordinary sign. It really took courage on both sides, both from those who welcomed and those who were welcomed.

I must also tell you that, while continuing to animate with much joy this “pilgrimage of trust,” we have also recently been dealing with a very dark reality, about which I think it is important to speak with you now.

These past months we have been involved in the work of ascertaining the truth concerning accusations of sexual assault committed by brothers upon minors in the years from 1950 to 1980.

After having reported these accusations to the legal authorities, and after having made this step public, I recently received a new and shocking testimony, accusing a brother of spiritual, psychological and sexual manipulation and harassment over many years.

So that everything could be brought to light, I immediately notified the relevant authorities. A few days ago, the brother in question was taken into custody, charged with rape and sexual assault, and placed in provisional detention.

Naturally, we must wait for the truth to be brought to light. But we must state this clearly: if these facts are true, this means that the brother has betrayed the trust that was shown to him. The trust of the victim, first of all, but also the trust of all those who come here, and the trust of his brothers.

My brothers and I are in a state of shock. We want everything to be brought to light. Any kind of dominance or ascendancy of this sort over others is totally incompatible with our life. I stand alongside the survivor and we will do all we can to support her.

If I have decided to speak this evening on such a serious subject, it is because our community wants to do all it can so that Taizé may remain a place of trust for you, a place in which you are welcomed as you are and fully respected in all ways.

So many people, young and old, discover or deepen here trust in God and in others! But, with the apostle Paul, we must also say it clearly: we brothers carry this treasure of the presence of God in jars of clay.

If some of you feel the need to speak, know that brothers and sisters, priests and pastors, are available to listen to you here in the church.

And now, the prayer will continue with a particular gesture, which we usually do on Friday in Taizé: the prayer around the cross. All who wish can approach the cross, place their forehead on the wood and, by this gesture, entrust to Christ their burdens and those of others. This prayer will allow us to carry in our prayer all those who are undergoing a trial in their existence.

Tonight, we can pray especially for those who are victims of any form of dominance or violence. Let us entrust ourselves to Christ, the good shepherd, in the confidence that he guides us even in our nights.


Last updated: 9 November 2019


[1Photo: Cédric Nisi