“Our purpose is not success. But at a time when the world is marked by tensions, many European youths wish to be harbingers of hope in the places where they live. Meeting such as the one in Prague are not an end in itself, in fact they support young people in this deep aspiration”. It is the answer of frère Alois, prior of the community of Taizè, to those who ask him about the secret of the success of the end-of-year European meetings organized by the ecumenical community founded by frère Roger Schutz. Thirty thousand young people have decided to spend the end of 2014 and the New Year 2015 in prayer. Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, jointly convened in Prague to invoke a light of hope for the Continent. The meeting was centered on the call of Jesus to be the salt of the earth. “Jesus – frère Alois pointed out to Maria Chiara Biagioni who interviewed him for SIR – does not say ‘you have to be’. He simply says: ‘You are the salt of the earth’. Salt is mixed with the earth of humanity. Christ invites us to bring the good news of the love of God worldwide”. What has been the contribution of the city of Prague to the Taizé meeting? “The situation of Christians in the Czech Republic prompts reflection. They are a minority, as in many parts of the world, and as the early Christians were. They are the salt of the earth, they don’t seek power, do not impose their views on society; they are humble artisans of peace and justice wherever they live”. Hundreds of young Europeans, mainly French and British, depart for Syria and enlist in ISIS. Violence appears to have more appeal than love. How do you explain this phenomenon? “The departures of these young people are a serious matter. Today many youths are neglected, disoriented, they have no job, no future. They are not attracted by violence but rather by the quest for a cause that will give meaning to their lives. Something that will make them say, ‘My life has a meaning’. Thus the inevitable question is: how can we be closer to these disoriented youths? How can we accompany them before they make irrevocable decisions? There are men and women who are already doing everything possible to provide such support to young people in difficulty, and we are grateful for this”. Taizé is the home of young people and of communion. The Pope spoke of Taizé in Istanbul. But Europe is facing closures and nationalisms. Where do young people stand in the equation? “I was moved by the words of Pope Francis in Istanbul. On that occasion he magnificently conveyed the fact that young people encourage us towards unity, without ignoring that some issues remain hard to solve. He spoke of Christian unity, but what he said could also apply to European integration. Certainly, today we strive to achieve greater European unity: there are nationalist drives. But few are those who truly intend to go back. Young people in Europe today are travelling, learning languages, they enjoy meeting their peers from different nations. In order to obtain greater harmony in Europe, Christians have a responsibility as followers of Christ, in the light of His call to the unity of mankind. We are faced with unknown challenges: how can globalization be approached positively, thereby preventing this process from triggering the oppression of the poor or of minorities? These are the questions that attract young people and some of them are willing to devote their lives to this quest for human solidarity. We would like to support this current, even though it’s humble and sometimes it’s concealed”. Be honest: do you truly believe that in today’s world there still is room for hope? “I would like the future to be viewed with confidence, and for this I count on many young people that we welcome in Taizé, who are full of hope. Our European meeting supports this hope. Maybe these youths mark a contradiction, given widespread discouragement and discontent. What can be our contribution, as Christians, to elicit a hope? Our faith is authentic only insofar as it is embodied in fraternity. This is the heart of the Gospel message. As Christians, we should be in the front line to help shape the face of tomorrow’s society, seeking to achieve this fraternity inaugurated by Christ. By doing so we will discover that happiness is not found in the approach ‘everyone for themselves’, but in solidarity among human beings. Maybe we can sow small seeds. But God revealed Himself in history because some people – like Abraham and Mary – believed that for Him nothing is impossible”.
The words of frère Alois, prior of the community founded by Roger Schutz " "