Death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

On December 31, 2022, the news reached the brothers and participants in the European meeting in Rostock that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had entered the life of eternity. Brother Alois said a few words of homage at the beginning of the prayer and invited all present to a moment of recollection. He recalls here some memories linked to the pope’s relationship with Taizé.
The death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI touches our hearts in Taizé because our community has had a relationship with him for over half a century. In fact, Joseph Ratzinger and Brother Roger already knew each other at the Second Vatican Council, where one was an expert and the other an observer.
I remember myself staying with Brother Roger at the home of the theologian who became Archbishop of Munich during a meeting of young people that we had prepared in that city. He received us warmly in his house.
Later, when Brother Roger went to Rome every year to meet Pope John Paul II, he often went to visit Cardinal Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in order to have an in-depth exchange with him.
The last letter written by Brother Roger three days before he was murdered was addressed to the new Pope Benedict XVI to tell him that his advanced age did not allow him to go to the WYD in Cologne, but that he would go as soon as possible to greet him in Rome. The Pope had this letter in his hands during the general audience on Wednesday when he announced with sadness the tragic death of the founder of our community. He held Brother Roger in great esteem, and five years after his death he wrote: "May his witness to an ecumenism of holiness inspire us in our march towards unity.”
Personally, I am very grateful for the welcome that Benedict XVI gave me when I went to meet him a few months after the beginning of my new ministry as prior of our community. The same year, 2005, saw the death of John Paul II and of Brother Roger. How would our community’s relationship with the Pope continue? From the very first audience I understood that his confidence in us had been won and that I could go to see him every year. He told me: "In Taizé, you have the songs and the silence, you go to the essential with the young people, towards a personal relationship with God.” This was very important for him and for us.
The relationship with him culminated in the prayer we celebrated in his presence on December 29, 2012, during our young adult European meeting in Rome. To the thousands of young people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Benedict XVI said, among other things, "I assure you of the Catholic Church’s irrevocable commitment to continue to search for ways of reconciliation in order to achieve the visible unity of Christians."
A few weeks later he resigned, and I made a point of going to see him in his retirement the following year to thank him for the unfailing support he had always given to our community in its vocation.

Photo: (C) Servizio Fotografico dell’Osservatore Romano | Vatican Media

Last updated: 1 January 2023