Messages received

Pope Francis
The Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew
The Moscow Patriarchate
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby
The Secretary General of the World Council of Churches
The Secretary of the Global Christian Forum, Rev. Casely Essamuah
The Secretary General of the World Lutheran Federation, Rev. Martin Junge
Pastor Christian Krieger, President of the Conference of European Churches
The President of the European Communion, Ursula von der Leyen

Pope Francis

Dear young people,

For more than forty years, the Taizé Community has been preparing an annual European Meeting in a major city on the continent and several generations of young people have taken part in it. Pope Francis is happy, once again this year, to join you in thought and prayer. As the health situation does not permit such a gathering this time, you have shown creativity and imagination: although dispersed, you are connected in a completely new kind of way thanks to the new means of communication. And at the same time you are extending this meeting to young people from all continents. May these days, during which you pray together and support each other in faith and trust, help you to "hope in season and out of season", as the theme of the message that will accompany you throughout the year 2021 underlines.

The very fact of "meeting" together, even if exceptionally you do so in a virtual way, already puts you on the path of hope. As the Holy Father reiterated in his encyclical "Fratelli Tutti", "No one can face life in isolation. We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we can help one another to keep looking ahead". Do not be among those who sow despair and create constant mistrust, for this would neutralise the strength of the hope offered to us by the Spirit of the Risen Christ. On the contrary, let yourself be filled with this hope; it will give you the courage to follow Christ and to work together with and for the most needy, especially those who find it difficult to face the difficulties of the present time. "Hope is bold; it can look beyond personal convenience, the petty securities and compensations which limit our horizon, and it can open us up to grand ideals that make life more beautiful and worthwhile. Let us continue, then, to advance along the paths of hope." (Fratelli Tutti, n. 55). May you, throughout this year, continue to develop a culture of encounter and fraternity and to walk together towards that horizon of hope unveiled by the resurrection of Christ.

The Holy Father blesses each and every one of you, dear young people, he also blesses the brothers of the Taizé Community, as well as your families and all those around the world who are taking part with you in this international meeting.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State for His Holiness

The Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew

Dear young people,

The year 2020, which is coming to an end, has brought with it its share of uncertainty, suffering and sadness. At the dawn of 2021, we finally see the shining of a light, fleeting and fragile, a way out of the crisis that we will nevertheless have to wait for with patience. Such crises, especially when they are so global, reveal the fragility of our humanity and our deep dependence on this love of God that never ceases to embrace us, although we may no longer be certain of it.

We greet you very warmly and wish to compliment you for taking the time, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, to take part either in person or virtually in the 43rd European meeting organised by the Community of Taizé in a unique form. We sincerely pray that this message will find you all safe and healthy. May the Lord extend his benevolent hand over our planet and all its inhabitants in order to deliver us as soon as possible from this ordeal. In preparing these few words of greeting and encouragement, we have been invited to be more humble and modest. Each year we have the joy of sending you a message from the Mother Church of Constantinople, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and we are overwhelmed by the sheer tragic magnitude of what 2020 has been and how future generations will judge these events.

So, in these days of renewal, when time ebbs and flows, we welcome the month of January with even more hope. For all of us want to taste what the world will be like next. However, we will only be able to gauge the extent of the ordeal we are going through by expressing our gratitude for the many sacrifices that line this pathway out of the crisis, for the incredible resilience of our brothers and sisters, as well as for the talent and knowledge offered on the altar of the common good. In other words, in the crucible of this global catastrophe the strength of a renewed hope has been forged.

"Let us lay down all the cares of this world," we sing during the divine liturgy. The fruit of our hope depends on our ability to place our suffering and that of all humanity in the hands of the Lord. For Christ offered himself "for the life of the world", that is to say, to take up all its smallness, limitations and mediocrity and to transfigure everything through his glorious sacrifice. In this way, the cross became a sign of hope and no longer a sign of shame. The Holy Apostle Paul proclaims: "For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (...) it pleased God to save the believers through that foolishness which is the proclamation of the Gospel. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1 Cor 1:18-23). To hope in season and out of season is nothing other than a life in Christ to which we invite you to offer your talents. The message of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church concludes as follows: "Young people are not only the future of the Church, but also a creative force and presence. » (§11)

So we continue to pray for you and bless you. May the grace of unity shine forth in each one of you, and may it bring the hope that sustains the life of the Church, so that you may be worthy workers in the Lord’s vineyard.

The Moscow Patriarchate

Heartfelt greetings to all the participants in this new European Meeting of Taizé, traditionally organised during the celebrations of the Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ according to the Gregorian calendar.

This year’s meeting, around the theme of hope, is taking place in extraordinary circumstances, which once again brings us back to the sources of "our hope" (1 Pet 3:15). At first glance, how can we keep hope when the pandemic has been raging for almost a year, amidst the physical, psychological and spiritual suffering it has caused, against the backdrop of the deep socio-economic fractures of the current crisis? The year that is drawing to a close has been an unexpected time of testing, a period in which Christ’s faithful have been brutally confronted with complex questions: how can we situate our faith in the face of the cruel realities of the world, so manifest in times of adversity? What meaning do our prayers have when they seem to have no bearing on the outcome of the epidemic? What is the role of ecclesial communities in our lives? Can they remain united in the context of sometimes harsh restrictions, which do not allow us to gather physically?

These questions force us to examine our consciences, to consider differently the link between the great Christian virtues of faith and hope. Christian hope derives directly from a total surrender of oneself, one’s life and work into the hands of God. Only then will God’s gentle light not fade away in the darkness of this world. In a situation that has revealed all the pettiness, all the insignificance of our efforts, in the fight against a virus even invisible to the eye, all the false hopes in forms of political and social organisation, in leaders, in the power of arms or in the capacity of science to solve all problems, have been brought to light more clearly than ever before. But it is precisely in this situation that we are called to encounter the great figures of Holy Scripture who personify hope, such as Abraham for example, who, according to the apostle Paul, "hoped against all hope... and therefore it was reckoned to him as righteousness" (Rom 4:18-22).

Having thus regained awareness of the God-centred and Christ-centred dimension of hope, we can go further, discovering the immense creative force of this apparently modest and discreet virtue. As the great poet Charles Péguy wrote, hope is "a source of life, because it never ceases to destroy the habitual. It is the seed of every spiritual birth. It is the source and fountain of grace because it is the one that never ceases to remove the mortal habit of habitual". Hope makes it possible to go beyond the limits of the ordinary, the routine, the petrified, to truly open oneself to the breath of the Holy Spirit. The signs of the Spirit’s action have manifested and are manifesting themselves in these terrible times of pandemic. How many "invisible heroes" - doctors, nurses, salespeople, social workers - are modestly serving their neighbour in the extraordinary context of these last months! How many priests, monks, lay people and faithful of our Churches carry out their vocation, sometimes risking their lives or their health! How many communities, despite inevitable financial difficulties, have set up major programmes to help those who suffer, the weakest, the most vulnerable members of society!

Thanking the Lord for the action of His grace, even in the face of death, suffering and destruction, let us aspire to act as "workers for the truth" (III Jn 1:8), as "workers of God" (I Cor 3:9). Praying for the repose of the souls of those who died during the pandemic, for the healing of the sick and the consolation of those who suffer, let us reflect on what Christ is calling us to in these special circumstances. May the strength of hope, rooted in the person and doctrine of our Lord and Saviour, be the beacon that illuminates our path in these difficult times.

I wish this Taizé meeting to be of spiritual benefit to all, and I invoke God’s blessing upon you.

Hilarion, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, President of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people’ (Luke 2. 10)

When the angels appeared to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem the shepherds were terrified. But the angel brought them a message of comfort and of joy. They were comforted in their fear and given the most joyful news of the birth of the Saviour, Jesus Christ.

It is my pleasure to send my own greetings to the Community of Taizé and all those gathered at Taizé itself and online for the annual European Meeting. It is a great shame that your meeting cannot take place in Turin as planned, but it is important that we all do everything we can to protect public health at this time.

Around the world people are facing an unseen threat in the form of the Covid-19 virus that, nevertheless, becomes visible in sickness and suffering. The pandemic is affecting the lives of people who are used to good health and who are not used to their activity being limited. In such circumstances fear can take hold – fear of illness and death, or fear for our future lives and wellbeing.

Yet we remember the message of the angel: a message of comfort and joy. ‘Do not be afraid’.

As I look around the world I see a beautiful but fragile creation, made by and loved by God. I see in the people of God around the world resilience and hope in spite of difficulty and I pray that the young people gathered virtually from around Europe in these, the shortest days of the year, will find comfort and joy in the celebration of Christmas when ‘the light shines in the darkness’ (John 1. 5). I pray also that, in receiving the message of the angel, we all might ourselves become messengers of comfort and joy to those around us who are fearful and whose hope recedes. ‘For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’ (2 Corinthians 4. 6).

Greetings to all of you this Christmastide. May God give to each of you his comfort and his joy, his hope and his peace.

The Interim Secretary General of the World Council of Churches, Father Ioan Sauca

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

It is with joy that I write to you today to share greetings from the World Council of Churches, to the Taizé community and in particular the many young people that are about to join your annual youth gathering, albeit in a different format through online communication this year.

Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our realities in more ways than we might at first have imagined possible, and we all continue to adapt to new ways of working, of sharing and of praying together.

As the World Council of Churches, we also see that the pandemic has magnified and exposed many facets of injustice and oppression in the world, not least affecting young people around the globe through challenges of unemployment, access to education, access to healthcare and essential necessities, climate emergency, mental health, violence and conflict.

So where do we find hope amid all these uncertainties?

Seeing your theme this year, “Hope in time and out of season,” allow me to offer a word of comfort and solidarity, and to reflect on three aspects of our common life these days: awareness, affirmation, and accompaniment.

Awareness of the issues affecting young people and all generations

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed perhaps more clearly than ever before the disparities of our world today: in income and wealth, access to healthcare, in disparate outcomes based on race or gender. At the same time, more eyes have also been opened to this reality, which in turn has created opportunities for the Church to live out its prophetic calling. This is a time to be awake and to be proactive. Awareness, discerning the signs of our time, is key to addressing the issues of inequalities and injustice around us, and we have seen many solidarity movements arise, especially led by young people, now that many recognize the need for change.

Affirmation of young people’s leadership

Young people play an essential role in God’s transformation in all of His creation. As the WCC, we see that young people are leaders not only of the future, but also in the present day. So may you all feel encouraged to own your voice and agency, speak your minds and remind other generations of your part in building a more peaceful, sustainable, and equitable future for all.


We are all interconnected and interrelated as one humanity, and as part of one creation. On our Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, we have learned this year in particular that solidarity at different levels goes beyond physical and in-person gatherings. We move from awareness of the signs of the time, to affirming young people’s leadership, to working together in addressing the issues that affect us all. As young people, you mobilize, you draw inspiration from the strength of your peers and others, and you create initiatives to move us toward a “new normal.” As the Letter of James 2:14-17 reminds us, our faith should lead us to act—a collective call to mission as disciples of Christ.

As we look now to your gathering this year, taking place in close connection with the Christmas season, may we all see that the message of hope that is found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ lives on today, as it was and will become.

I pray that you continue to allow the Holy Spirit to move through you, that you allow God’s love to touch your hearts, God’s wisdom and strength to empower you in our work for justice and peace, and God’s comfort and peace to accompany you all the days of your lives.

The Secretary of the Global Christian Forum, Rev. Casely Essamuah

bring you fraternal greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ from the Global Christian Forum to the international community of young people gathering this New Year season at Taizé.

Doubtless this year has witnessed unprecedented changes in all our lives – individually, and collectively. For once, we can say that there was something global that had a direct impact on all our daily lives. And yet in the midst of this pandemic, has been oases of goodwill and unfailing acts of charity. This season when we experienced the worst of life, brought out, in some of us, our best angels as well.

You gather, even though in a different format, to celebrate the gift of life that we all share at this moment, even as we commemorate those who have lost lives. You gather to reflect on our common future on this planet, especially in light of all the challenges that we face. You gather, not alone, but with one another, to demonstrate that you can do much more together than alone.

Our world needs your leadership, now more than ever, and so do not underestimate the power that you have as you gather, for reflection, for silence, and then for action.

It is my prayer that you will leave empowered to face the challenges of life, hopefully in a post-COVID era, where there will be more equity in the sharing of the resources of this planet. Each of you is dearly loved by a Creator who gave us the best gift of all, at Christmastime, his own self.


The Secretary General of the World Lutheran Federation, Rev. Martin Junge

Strengthened by the beautiful story of Jesus’ birth in the stable of Bethlehem, we renew our hope and joy as we are reassured of God’s ongoing will to come into this world and take root in it. God always finds a way to be the God-with-us (Immanuel)!

This is also true in this time of pandemic, where we have suffered with many that have lost their loved ones, and faced the challenge of not meeting or gathering, as we have done in the past. This is also true for your annual meeting, which will take place in a mixed format, and not in the city of Turin, as planned. Yet, dear friends, behold: God will break in and find you as a community gathered to discern and to be strengthened in a journey of hope. That’s what the story of God’s irruption into this world in Christ Jesus is all about!

I celebrate that you are gathering for your annual meeting, making all efforts to still engage with each other, pray, reflect, celebrate, and envision. There is a “prophetic defiance” in your commitment to reconciliation and now in your resolve to meet, evidence of the gift of faith that God has awakened in your hearts. Praise be God for your witness!

Dear friends, in this season we are called to share the gifts with which we have been endowed. In view of what is going on around us the question may be pertinent: is our continual witness to the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ in or out of season? Acknowledging the difficulties and pain, the challenges and constraints with which we may be faced, I believe this is the best possible season to live out our calling to share the gifts of faith, hope and love in a world confused and fractured. Dear sisters and brothers, we are in season, because of the gifts of faith endowed to us.

I pray for your gathering, trusting in God who always finds a way to be present as you engage in this new format, nurturing you, guiding you, inspiring you for a continued pilgrimage of hope in this world.

Pastor Christian Krieger, President of the Conference of European Churches

Dear pilgrims of trust,

I bring you fraternal greetings and encouragement from the Conference of European Churches and its 114 churches based in over 40 countries. I know that you had a burning dream to journey to Turin to meet again, as pilgrims from all over Europe, and to celebrate together this God who blesses us by becoming one of us, by taking upon Godself the human condition in order to welcome it and to manifest to the world the unfailing love that God has for each one of us.

I also know how important this annual meeting of the Pilgrimage of Trust is for each one of you, for the deepening of your own faith, for the strengthening of the trust that is given to each one of you. Moving around, meeting the other, interacting with the stranger, sharing with someone different is a fundamental faith journey. These acts allow you to inscribe your personal spirituality within the horizon of the Church of Jesus Christ; this Church which has no limits or frontiers, but a centre, the one established by this Word made Flesh. Thus, meeting the other, especially when it is a question of going beyond the boundaries of one’s own habits, but also the boundaries of the possible and the unimaginable, becomes one of those places where the God’s face blends with ours, to bless with God’s presence our humanity that God wants to reconcile.

This year the Pilgrimage of Trust, which offers you this very essential encounter with otherness, is complicated by the pandemic crisis that the world is going through. For many months now, health measures have been preventing friendship, fraternity, praise of the Creator, social and cultural life from fully spreading their wings. For many months now, this health crisis isolates, affects, grieves and darkens the horizon, and even plunges us into despair. Facing the adversity of this pandemic and confronted with our own vulnerability, we need trust and hope.

And more globally, our suffering world, in the grip of many tensions, also needs to be reconciled to find ways of trust. Faced with the challenge of the climate emergency, the resurgence of international tensions, the development of a logic of withdrawal, the inability of European countries to provide a humane response to our brothers and sisters who are drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, and the social and economic consequences of the present pandemic crisis, Christians have a vocation to be bearers of trust and witnesses of hope.

Trust is born from a given word. In the Bible, this given word becomes a promise of presence, companionship, life, blessing. Even disturbed by present circumstances, tested by the adversity of life, challenged by the finiteness of human existence, our Pilgrimage of Trust remains carried by the Divine Breath. In this very special year, my prayers accompany you and encourage you to explore the digital link, while waiting to be able to celebrate life again by meeting you in person, next year I hope.

The Christmas Gospel tells us that in Bethlehem, God welcomed our frailties and took upon Godself our vulnerability. God did this by becoming fragile, vulnerable and dependent on the kindness of others. May the promise embodied in this birth and the breath of hope that Christ carries soothe your hearts, enlighten your minds and direct your steps towards those entrusted to our compassion.

The President of the European Communion, Ursula von der Leyen

For many years now, the community of Taizé has been a source of inspiration for me, as well as for millions of people around the world. At Taizé faith is never lived as a boundary, a wedge that drives people apart. On the contrary, faith is an invite to dialogue. In this spirit, every year the Brothers bring together thousands of young people, to discover what they share as human beings.

This year, more than ever before, men and women all across the world have realised that our destinies are tied. We share the same fragility. All our lives have been shaken by the pandemic, in a way or another. And all our countries are confronted with the impact of climate change. As human beings, we all face the same choice. We can focus on our differences, our disagreements and misunderstandings. Or we can choose to join forces for the common good – that is, to protect the dignity of every human being and the beauty of creation.

In such a challenging moment for Europe and the world, it would be easy to despair. But as Brother Alois has reminded us, signs of hope are coming from all corners of the world. Countless men and women have given their time and even risked their life to help the sick, the elderly, the lonely. Young people of all nationalities have mobilised for our planet. And here in Europe, we have agreed to join forces to support the countries that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. This year of suffering has turned into a year of solidarity.

“No one is saved alone”: during this gathering you will reflect on the meaning of these words. To people of faith, this means that we all need God’s grace to be saved. But it also means that we all need each other – to defeat the pandemic, to build a greener and more just economy, to stop the destruction of Creation.

I hope this meeting – even in this unprecedented virtual form – can be an opportunity for everyone to build new friendships and reinvigorate your soul. Let me wish you all a merry Christmas and a very happy new year: a year of healing, of solidarity and joy.

Last updated: 22 December 2020