Sandro Magister's newest column features the L'Osservatore Romano's interview with Cardinal Kasper regarding the standing of the late Brother Roger of Taize (+2005) in relation to the Catholic Church. It provocatively begins with the words:
Was the Founder of Taizé Protestant, or Catholic? A Cardinal Solves the Riddle.
Fr. Roger Schutz was both. He adhered to the Church of Rome while remaining a Calvinist pastor. Wojtyla and Ratzinger gave him communion. Cardinal Kasper explains how, and why.
Brother Roger was a man known for his charity, prayer and zeal for Christian unity. Nevertheless, his daily reception of Holy Communion in the Catholic Mass in Taize -- and his reception several times of Holy Communion from the hands of Pope John Paul II and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger -- coupled with his refusal to openly leave the Reformed tradition and formally convert to Catholicism, left not a few Catholics (and Protestants as well) puzzled and even scandalized. While it had been official policy since the 1960's to permit certain non-Catholic Christians to receive Holy Communion under grave or exceptional circumstances, the spectacle of a figure of such stature being allowed by the highest authorities of the Church to publicly and frequently receive communion as a matter of course, as a normal thing, without any formal or public adherence to the Catholic Church was still unprecedented (to say the least).
Since his death, rumors of a "secret conversion" to Catholicism have continued to circulate.
In the interview, in a passage of exquisite novelty, Cardinal Kasper firmly denies that Brother Roger ever formally converted to Catholicism (emphasis mine):
In a talk he gave in the presence of Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter’s Basilica during the young adult European meeting in Rome in 1980, the prior of Taizé described his own personal journey and his Christian identity with these words: “I have found my own Christian identity by reconciling within myself the faith of my origins with the Mystery of the Catholic faith, without breaking fellowship with anyone.” In fact, Brother Roger never wanted to break “with anyone,” for reasons which were essentially linked to his own desire for unity and to the ecumenical vocation of the Taizé Community. For that reason, he preferred not to use certain expressions like “conversion” or “formal” membership to describe his communion with the Catholic Church. In his conscience, he had entered into the mystery of the Catholic faith like someone who grows into it, without having to “abandon” or “break” with what he had received and lived beforehand. The meaning of some theological or canonical terms could be discussed endlessly. Out of respect for the faith-journey of Brother Roger, however, it would be preferable not to apply to him categories which he himself considered inappropriate for his experience and which, moreover, the Catholic Church never wanted to impose upon him. Here too, the words of Brother Roger himself should suffice for us.
As Sandro Magister explains earlier in the article:
But how does Kasper solve the riddle? He denies that Fr. Schutz "formally" adhered to the Catholic Church. And much less did he abandon the Protestantism into which he was born. He affirms, instead, that he gradually "enriched" his faith with the pillars of the Catholic faith, particularly the role of Mary in salvation history, the real
presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and the "the ministry of unity exercised by the bishop of Rome." In response to this, the Catholic Church allowed him to receive Eucharistic communion.
According to Kasper, it is as if there had been an unwritten agreement between Schutz and the Church of Rome, "crossing certain confessional" and canonical limits.
The pastoral and theological effects of this admission are only about to unravel. One thinks of how some Anglo-Catholics and High Church Lutherans will view this and ask: "if Brother Roger could, why not us?"
To read the full article, please click on the link: