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Taizé Paris meeting draws 80,000 -- wide ecumenical support

An international youth gathering sponsored by the Taize community which opened yesterday in Paris, has received supportive messages from Pope John Paul II, the Orthodox patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow, and the secretary general of the United Nations.

The Taize community was founded in 1940 by Brother Roger Schutz. Its 25th annual gathering for young Europeans, which is expected to draw 80,000 people to Paris. More than half of the participants will come from the Eastern European countries; last year's meeting took place in Budapest.

Pope John Paul referred to the meeting -- and the Taize community -- as "a sign of hope for our world." The Holy Father said that the gathering "whos that today's young people need truth, goodness, beauty, and the absolute, and that they are looking for meaning in life."

Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow said that the Taize meeting was particularly welcome "now when the powers of evil threaten the people of the entire world, sowing hatred and death." The ecumenical impulse, he said, he a necessity in that climate. He explained: "If we do not unite around Christ, we shall not be able to resist the spirit of this world, with its individualism and consumerism, divisions and conflicts."

Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople called upon all the participants in the week-long meeting to "pray for the unity of the Church and for reconciliation -- between men and God, and among men." And UN secretary general Kofi Annan added his plea for "a strong message of tolerance and solidarity."


30 Dec 2002