Messages received for the meeting

Pope Francis

Dear young people,
Coming in great numbers, from all over Europe and also from other continents, to Madrid for the 41st meeting organized and led by the Community of Taizé, you are invited to “not forget hospitality”. This is the theme that will guide your reflections, enlighten your prayer and that you will be invited to reflect upon in the international meetings in Taizé, as well as in Beirut and Cape Town. In this perspective, Pope Francis wants to assure you of his great spiritual closeness. And, following the recent assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome on “Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment”, he wants to tell you again that with all the Church, he trusts you. The Holy Father also thanks you for having chosen to take part in this gathering, to open the door of your heart to the Lord and his Word, to make visible and nurture a culture of meeting, welcoming each other while respecting your differences.

The Pope encourages you to “[...] never lose a taste for enjoying meeting others, for friendship, a desire to dream together, to walk with others. [For] genuine Christians are not afraid to open up to others, to share space in which they live by turning them into spaces of brother and sisterhood” (Message for the XXXIII World Youth Day, March 25, 2018). Thus, he invites you to make room for the Lord in your life and to discover that, thanks to friendship with Jesus, it is possible to live a generous hospitality, to learn to enrich oneself by the differences of others and to nurture your own talents in order to become builders of bridges between churches, religions and peoples.

The Pope also asks the Holy Spirit to help you, young Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox, to grow in trust in God who welcomes you and loves you as you are and who calls you to welcome difference as a way of communion.

May the example of Mary, whose “love is full of daring and self-giving”, stimulate you to live truly “this charity that impels us to love God beyond all else and our own selves- to love the people with whom we share daily life” (Ibid.). With a heart full of hope, the Holy Father encourages you, with the grace of God, to welcome and support your older brothers and sisters in the faith, “to use your talents, your energy and your strength to improve the world”, and to ensure that every person can find a place in the great human family. He counts on you and your enthusiasm to take up the challenge of hospitality, especially by making yourselves close to this wounded humanity and those who are kept apart, rejected or excluded, the little ones and the poor!

Entrusting you to the Lord so that you may welcome him, following the example of the Virgin Mary, and allow him to fill you with his joy, the Holy Father warmly gives his blessing to you, the young people participating in this meeting, to the brothers of Taizé, as well as to all those who, in Madrid, open their doors and welcome you.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of His Holiness

The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Dear young people,

This year, it is in Madrid, Spain, that you are meeting in order to better move, in prayer and in the most fraternal ways, into a new year that will require more than ever your commitment as “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” (Mt 5,13-14). The strength of the Christian vocation in the city is conditioned by the churches’ attachment to unity. During their historical journey, churches and Christian communities have constantly been committed to preserving the integrity of the body of Christ. Even if today this unity continues to be shaken, the fact remains that the desire and wish for rapprochement, which define the very identity of ecumenical dialogue, are not only a chance, but also an opportunity.

We are particularly glad at this 41st European Youth Meeting. During these few days, you will discover both the diversity of Christianity in the potentiality of human relationships and the history and the life of the local communities that will welcome you. For Taizé’s European meetings are first and foremost a way of exposing oneself to the richness of a shared faith that is revealed by the cultures and civilizations it has shaped over time.

But there is no true encounter without the spirit of hospitality that nourishes it. In the Orthodox Church, the theological conception of the divine is an image of God as meeting and communion, as hospitality and inclusion. That is why the traditional icon of the God-Trinity is a representation of the three strangers in the form of angels greeted by Abraham under the oak of Mambre, as described in chapter 18 of Genesis. He did not see them as a danger or a threat to his habits or his goods. On the contrary, he spontaneously and openly shared with them his friendship and his food. It was as a reward for his disinterested hospitality that Abraham was promised what seemed impossible, a descendant despite the sterility of his wife. Hospitality is a gift and a grace.

He cannot be mistaken, whoever puts hope in the will of dialogue and cooperation of peoples with different religious beliefs, opening the door to the coexistence of the whole of humanity in a world in peace. How many strangers will be welcomed at our table? Such is also the question that the search for the unity of Christians asks. In an official document entitled “The mission of the Orthodox Church in the contemporary world”, the Holy and Grand Council of the Orthodox Church of June 2016 articulates the themes of welcome, peace and justice: “The Orthodox Church believes that it is her duty to encourage all that is at the service of peace and which opens the way to justice, fraternity, true freedom and mutual love among all the children of God, the only heavenly Father, as well as all the peoples who constitute one human family. She sympathizes with all those in different parts of the world who are deprived of the goods of peace and justice.”

Finally, we pray for you and bless you. May the grace of unity radiate in each one of you, and may it be bearer of the hope that sustains the life of the Church so that you may be worthy workers in the vineyard of the Lord.

The Moscow Patriarchate

In the name of His Holiness Patriarch Cyril of Moscow and all Russia and in my own name, I cordially greet all those who are gathered today in Madrid for the annual meeting of Christian youth, organized by the monastic community of Taizé. I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

The coming into the world of the Lord Jesus has opened the way to a new life, offering to humanity the light of an indelible hope, inciting spiritual transfiguration and moral perfection, because Christ “did not come to judge the world. but to save the world” (Jn 12:47).

The youth meeting organized by the Community of Taizé demonstrates in a striking manner that Christian youth understands clearly the need to work together to establish the Christian values of charity and solidarity in people’s minds. “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). True love, active charity, is one of the fundamental criteria of faithfulness to the Gospel. That is why the initiatives taken together by young people, united by the same aspiration to do good around them, have an immense importance for the authentic testimony to Christ to today’s world.

The theme of this year’s meeting is “Let’s not forget hospitality!”. Today’s world is going through difficult times of war and conflict, forcing many people to leave their homelands in search of security and a better future. It is no wonder that crowds of refugees have come rushing toward the prosperous countries of Europe. In these conditions, it is important that the Christians of Europe show solidarity and prove hospitable toward those in need, seeing in every exile Christ, born himself in a stable and having nowhere to lay his head. A profound pledge of the solidarity of all humans is found in the divine filiation of every human being, which is revealed to us in the event of Christ’s Nativity and therefore in their unity as sisters and brothers, which goes beyond all national and social differences. In Christ, who has bestowed this brother and sisterhood on us, “there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” (Col 3:11)

Bear witness to the love of Christ, who overcame this world’s hatred, by helping those close to you and all people, supporting whoever needs your help. Let us do all we can to ensure that there is more love between people in the world in the coming year. Let us ensure that the Christmas song of the angels, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14) makes every human heart vibrate with joy!

May the blessing of God be with you all. With my friendship in the Lord.

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

Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, Primate of England

In these days of Christmas we celebrate the glorious truth that Jesus has made his home with us. Alleluia! May God bless you all as Taizé comes to Madrid to celebrate the hospitality of God!

Though there was no room at the inn, the Christ Child with Mary and Joseph were found a place, and the newborn child was placed in a manger. At least strangers, shepherds, and wise men made Him welcome. In their company we all find a welcome at the Christmas crib, where with them, led to the Shepherd King, we bend the knee in adoration. In this way we too find our home in Him.

God has always been making a home for us. The earth he made is now our precious home, for us to tend and cherish, as well as to share. And it is up to us to ensure, in the power of the Holy Spirit, that it remains a hospitable world – for our global neighbours, for those who need our welcome today, and for generations to come. Let us not forget Hospitality!

Jesus promised before his death and resurrection that he was going ahead to prepare us a place. His kindness knows no end. Like the son returning to his father in the story he told, we are always welcome when we turn back to God. And all the angels in heaven rejoice!

May there be great rejoicing in the welcome God gives, as you gather in Jesus there in Spain this week! And may the Holy Spirit fill you with grace to take that welcome with you, wherever you go.

The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse-Tveit

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:20)

It is a pleasure to greet you, fellow pilgrims on our journey of faith, in the name of the Worldwide fellowship of Christians and Christian communities that is the World Council of Churches, as you gather in Madrid for Taizé’s 41st European Youth Encounter.

For many decades, the ecumenical movement has drawn sustenance, momentum, and inspiration from the Community of Taizé and the larger movement it has nurtured.

With Taizé we see that ecumenism is not only about navigating differences or overcoming longstanding divisions among Christians. It is about building community, a fellowship or “koinonia” grounded in our relationship to God in Christ and eager to do what is right in the world. It must be an ecumenical movement of love. It is about fully experiencing the grounding that comes with shared faith, shared living, shared prayer and song and silence. It is about renewing and revitalizing our churches and transforming the world through loving solidarity.

In so many ways, Taizé embodies all that is best in the ecumenical movement.

May these days be for you a time of meeting and growing friendship, a time of gracious sharing, a time of fellowship and spiritual learning, a time of inspiration and renewal. May they be, in other words, an encounter in which you receive and offer hospitality, so that, as the Bible says, you are no longer strangers but friends, and members of the larger household of God.

For the hospitality that Taizé exemplifies, is not just a form of politeness. Hospitality denotes not just a virtuous trait in us but a relationship into which we enter—of gracious and trusting welcome, mutuality and friendship, and sharing of food and shelter. It inevitably involves vulnerability, too, and sometimes even risk. We invite others into our homes, and thereby into our hearts.

Hospitality is an all-encompassing form of love. It is the special gift or charism of Taizé.

It is also a fundamental biblical mandate and a due to God’s own being: God’s unconditional, indiscriminate love means that God is our host in this world, and in Christ we share that blessing, that household, with others.

Indeed, God is our home—no matter where we live or roam—and so we become God’s home, “a dwelling place for God”, as Ephesians says, here on earth.

Such hospitable love—freely offered, humbly received—is needed today in ail parts ofthe world. Whether in offering welcome to immigrants, safety to refugees, sustenance to the homeless and needy, or understanding and dialogue and empathy to those who are different from us, our loving hospitality can rescue lives, create community, and redeem the times.

You are the vanguard of this ecumenical movement of love, not just in the future but now, and so I pray that your encounter in Madrid by strengthen your hearts and widen your loving commitment to God and God’s world. Yours in Christ

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

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 2018.

Your gathering is a demonstration of your testimony to the unity that we share in Christ with fellow believers, and with all of humanity in solidarity. I applaud the sacrifice and determination that you have all shown by meeting at this time, and in this place.

Our world desperately needs such examples of overcoming differences and divisions by the power of love and trust. You encourage us. You inspire us.

It is my prayer that your days together, of reflection, worship, and silence, should equip you to continue to make an eternal impact in your spheres of influence.

It is my prayer that you will return to your homes and churches with a renewed commitment to build bridges between people and among each other, and above all to consistently nurture the relationship you each share with God who loves us so much that He demonstrated that through Jesus’ death on the cross.

Finally, I pray that what Jacob saw in a dream will be your experience, when he said “Surely the Lord is in this place (…) How awesome is this place. This is none other, than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven”. (Genesis 28:16.17)


The Secretary General of the Lutheran World Federation, Pastor Martin Junge

Let’s not forget hospitality.

Dear sisters, dear brothers in Christ,
It is with great joy that I send by this letter the warmest messages of fraternity from the Lutheran World Federation, as you gather for the European youth meeting of Taizé.

We thank God for the presence of each and every one of you. We are encouraged to see you gathered together, sharing the scriptures, praying together, singing and discerning the will of God in the midst of the present times.

In many ways, today’s times are not easy, with innumerable challenges, some of which are global in nature. For many of them, adequate responses and concrete proposals to deal with them seem to be lacking. I think, for example, of climate change. But also the challenge of migration that today is reaching levels never seen before.

Fortunately, as a Christian people, we are encouraged by a very strong hope, which nourishes a very deep trust: God never stops being present in our world. That’s the message we heard at Christmas. In celebrating the presence of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, we rejoice in the good news that God has come to meet us, that God has come to stay.

In this sense, I would like to encourage you to discover an answer to present challenges that is not marked by fear, hostility and timid closure on the private and the individual, but on the contrary to walk with confidence and hope, to participate in building a coexistence between people and with the whole creation that reflects the depth of the transformative impact of Christ in our lives.

In this perspective, hospitality is not an artificial obligation, but an expression of the deep sense of humanity to which God opens us by his divine presence in our midst.

Let us not forget hospitality, brothers and sisters, because that would mean forgetting who we are and how God has created us: people who are intrinsically linked to each other by recognizing the face of Christ in the other.

On behalf of the Lutheran Communion I send you warm greetings, endowed with a deep ecumenical commitment and the conviction of the enormous importance of your meeting, in which, by opening yourselves to others, you open a space for hospitality.

Fraternally in Jesus Christ

The Secretary General of the Baptist World Alliance, Rev Dr Elijah M. Brown

I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ, and on behalf of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) family 239 Member Bodies, in 125 countries and territories, representing 169,000 churches and 47 million people.

As you meet, I pray that you will find in Christ a model of hospitality that could be called the Open Table. Throughout the Gospel of Luke, Jesus consistently uses a shared table to welcome meaningful conversation and spiritual reflection. Each and every one of us have a table, a place that we can invite our neighbors, a place that we can offer practical food and intentional spiritual reflection.

Let us find in the Church of Africa the gift of hospitality first displayed to Jesus Christ, Mary and Joseph. The people of Egypt welcomed the Holy Family as political refugees fleeing oppression. While one will never know the impact this had on the family, it is easy to imagine that as Jesus grew he would hear stories from his parents about how they were forced to flee through the night, wondered how they would make their way in a new country, and found friendships and help among a new community. With more refugees in our world today, than at any other point since World War II, let us consider how we may emphasize anew a model of hospitality. Let us also remember that the Church has always been global in nature and that we have much to learn from our brothers and sisters around the world. Part of hospitality is a humility that is willing to listen and learn.

Let us find in the conflicts of our world the call to practice the hospitality of relationship. Forces in our world today continue to threaten and fray our societies. Genocide continues in multiple contexts. The wealthy overindulge while hunger stalks in the shadows of many countries. Religious persecution is at one of the highest global levels in years. A spirit of hospitality asks us to build relationships - to build relationships with people of other faiths, people of other ethnicities, people of other language. Jesus even calls us to have relationship with our enemies. The challenges facing our world will not be solved in the absence of relationships.

Be challenged, young people of faith! Live with an Open Table—with your neighbor, as part of a global church, and in the border world we need your voice and leadership.

The Executive Director, Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance, Dr. Rosalee Velloso Ewell

To all those gathered in Madrid, grace and peace to you! I rejoice in your gathering and give thanks to God for your witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. It is such a gift to be together and to share in God’s hospitality!

During Advent and Christmas we are reminded of how we prepare and wait for Christ’s arrival – his birth and his 2nd coming. As we prepare we learn about how to be hosts, how to welcome the most vulnerable and those who are unwelcomed by the world. Hospitality is a gift that God gives God’s people. Hospitality can be complicated and difficult; it can also be wonderful and surprising. How extraordinary that you can gather together to share in God’s hospitality and to grow in friendship and grace towards one another.

Redcliffe College, the United Bible Societies and the World Evangelical Alliance have been praying for you. I personally continue to pray for each of you as you discover both the wonder and the complexities of following Christ in this world.

May your time of prayer, worship and fellowship be signs of faith in a society of doubt, peace in a world at war, hope in places of despair, and love where there is hatred.

May your time in Madrid be blessed with all the gifts of God’s Holy Spirit and may you be inspired to share the love of Jesus wherever you are and wherever you go.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr António Guterres

I am pleased to greet the Taizé Community’s Annual Meeting for Young Adults. To this day, I still recall the Taizé gathering I attended as a university student, and I have fond memories of the ecumenical spirit that characterizes your meetings.

You gather at a time of challenge and uncertainty in the face of climate change, conflict, rising inequality and growing intolerance. Yet, this is also an era of opportunity, with winds of hope blowing around the globe, including the recent adoption of the Global Compact on Migration and successful outcome of the climate conference in Poland.

International cooperation is more important than ever, and we all have a role to play in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals and building a better future for all. Throughout my tenure, I have seen young people step up to address global challenges, showing they are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but of today. To help empower the world’s youth, I have launched Youth2030, a strategy that aims to work more closely and productively with them to understand their needs, heed their voice and put their ideas into action.

In 2019, I will continue to count on you to help advance our shared goals of peace, sustainable development and human rights for all. Please accept my best wishes for a meaningful gathering, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The Mayor of Madrid, Ms. Manuela Carmena

As 2018 draws to a close, thousands of young people like you are gathering in Madrid to take part in the 41st European Meeting of Young Adults convened by the Community of Taizé, which was founded in 1940 by Brother Roger. You have accepted the invitation that Cardinal Carlos Osoro extended to you, to make our city the venue for you all to meet one another, Catholics and members of other denominations alike. We welcome each and every one of you.

Madrid is an open, multicultural, tolerant, safe and welcoming city. Above all else, it is welcoming. Our symbol is a pair of arms embracing anyone and everyone who visits us. But at this time of the year, Madrid is even more hospitable, immersed as it is in Christmas celebrations that fill the city with light and colour. Rest assured you will feel right at home.

Madrid has been the venue for important meetings, international events and peace agreements. Last November, we welcomed the second World Forum on Urban Violence and Education for Coexistence and Peace, where we endeavoured to identify the root causes of the different facets of interpersonal violence. I know that you young people who are taking part in this meeting are also committed to peace in the world.

As Mayor of this city, I am able to offer you, and I do offer you, all the support and help of the City Council and of all of us who are part of this institution. We are at your service. Please do not hesitate to come to us for anything you might need. From the bottom of my heart, I wish you a very happy and fruitful stay among this great family that is Madrid.

Printed from: - 20 November 2019
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