Monday, January 14, 2013

Should Catholics participate in the Taize movement?

For many years it has been common in many Catholic parishes for prayers, songs, and practices from the French Taize movement to be incorporated into parish life. Even Pope Benedict XVI has noted this trend, stating with approval that "these days the songs of Taizé are filling the basilicas of Rome" [1]. With their focus on an ecumenism of understanding, on uniting around what binds Christians and avoiding debates on what divides, Taize has been held up as a model of the modern ecumenical movement. Its founder, Brother Roger Schutz (d. 2005) has been praised by a succession of popes and Christian leaders across many denominations. Therefore, it is not surprising that songs and ideas of the Taize community have been introduced at the parish level to nourish spirituality and promote ecumenism.

What is the Taize movement? The Taize movement is a self-described ecumenical monastic community founded after World War II by "Brother" Roger Schutz, a Protestant who felt a radical commitment towards the full reconciliation of all Christians. With a few followers he set up his small "community" in the village of Taize, France, and from there began an ecumenical "religious order" open to Christians of all traditions with an aim of building understanding across confessional lines, working towards full unity of all Christians and an interior commitment to Christ, which Pope Benedict XVI referred to as an "ecumenism of holiness" [2].

The ecumenism of Brother Roger and the Taize movement is based on a kind of inclusiveness that focuses solely on things Christians have in common while neglecting to go into issues that could be potentially divisive, a kind of "mere Christianity." Cardinal Walter Kaspar, who knew Brother Roger, described him ecumenism according to Taize in this manner:

"The search for unity was for [Brother Roger] a kind of guideline in even the most concrete decisions of each day: to welcome joyfully any action that could bring Christians of different traditions closer, to avoid every word or act that could slow down their reconciliation."

But is the Taize movement Catholic? Or rather, since we know it is an "ecumenical community", are prayers and practices derived from this movement fitting to be used in parish settings?

Before going any further, we ought to establish the fundamental point that the Taize movement is not Catholic in any meaningful sense of the word. That does not mean it is bad; John XXIII, John Paul II and Benedict XVI have all spoken very highly of Brother Roger Schutz on a personal level, and undoubtedly the Taize experience has contributed to the erection of many meaningful bonds between Catholics and Protestants.

But the question is not whether there is anything positive about Taize, but whether or not Taize practices, prayers, songs, etc. are appropriate in parish settings. To this question I must answer with an unqualified negative. If Taize is not a formally in union with the Church and the Pope and has no intention to obtain this status (and one hallmark of Taize is that they pride themselves on not being bound to confessional ties), then there is a strong argument to be made against incorporating Taize into Catholic worship or participating in Taize activities oneself.

Let's look at Canon Law. Canon Law, as far as I know, has nothing to say about the incorporation of non-Catholic practices into Catholic parishes; this would be something each local Ordinary would legislate on. Nevertheless, Canon Law does give us a broad vision of the sort of activities and prayers the Church proposes as suitable for parish life.

Some Guidelines from Canon Law

First, let's look at Canon 209 on the rights and obligations of the Christian laity:

Can. 209 §1. The Christian faithful, even in their own manner of acting, are always obliged to maintain communion with the Church.

It is difficult to see how participating in a movement that eschews confessional ties and seeks no formal union with the Church of Rome does not violate the prescription of Canon 209 that Catholics maintain communion with the Church "even in their own manner of acting." Even if participating in Taize activities does not break communion, it is hard to see how it promotes it.

Next, Canon 210 on the obligation of the faithful to promote the growth of the Church:

Can. 210. All the Christian faithful must direct their efforts to lead a holy life and to promote the growth of the Church and its continual sanctification, according to their own condition.

The Christian faithful are not directed to work for the buildup of some concept "Christendom" or "Christianity" in general; they are called to "promote the growth of the Church" in particular; and as Vatican II and the CDF teach, the Church of God is to be understood as the Catholic Church. We buildup God's kingdom by building up the Church. This leads us to the question of whether or not working to promote an non-denominational, ecumenical movement really leads to the promotion of the Catholic Church. Again, It is difficult to see how participating in a movement that eschews confessional ties and seeks no formal union with the Church of Rome somehow promotes the growth of the Catholic Church.

Next, the obligation of the faithful to know the Catholic Faith:

Can. 229 §1. Lay persons are bound by the obligation and possess the right to acquire knowledge of Christian doctrine appropriate to the capacity and condition of each in order for them to be able to live according to this doctrine, announce it themselves, defend it if necessary, and take their part in exercising the apostolate.

Does anyone doubt that the "knowledge of Christian doctrine" envisioned here is the teachings of the Catholic faith? This familiarity Christians are supposed to have of Christian doctrine is supposed to be necessary to enable them to live, announce, and defend it. Now ecumenical efforts, by their nature, tend to avoid those points of doctrine that are distinctively Catholic (these are the "divisive" doctrines Protestants talk about). How can Christians obtain the necessary specific knowledge to defend the Catholic Faith envisioned in Canon 229 when the particular points of Faith that are unique to Catholicism are omitted? Again, this Canon would not prohibit Taize activities, but it lends strength to the argument that such activities contribute little to teaching Catholic doctrine and that time could be better spent elsewhere.

Next let's look at the obligations of pastors in making sure their people are educated in the Catholic Faith:

Can. 528 §1. A pastor is obliged to make provision so that the word of God is proclaimed in its entirety to those living in the parish; for this reason, he is to take care that the lay members of the Christian faithful are instructed in the truths of the faith, especially by giving a homily on Sundays and holy days of obligation and by offering catechetical instruction. He is to foster works through which the spirit of the gospel is promoted, even in what pertains to social justice. He is to have particular care for the Catholic education of children and youth. He is to make every effort, even with the collaboration of the Christian faithful, so that the message of the gospel comes also to those who have ceased the practice of their religion or do not profess the true faith.

A pastor should make sure the word of God is proclaimed "in its entirety", that is, without "divisive" parts of it (like the spiritual and jurisdictional authority of the See of Peter, for example) being omitted for the sake of ecumenical dialogue. Note that pastors are to have special care to make sure parishioners get catechetical instruction in the "truths of the faith" and are to have particular care for "Catholic education" in the "true faith." It is a pastor's job to make sure that whatever is going on in a parish is specifically Catholic and promoting the "true faith." This would necessarily proscribe something like Taize, which is not a Catholic movement and as such does not promote "the true faith."

Finally, what norms does Canon Law envision with regards to the catechetical opportunities pastors are to make available to their parishioners?

Can. 779 Catechetical instruction is to be given by using all helps, teaching aids, and instruments of social communication which seem more effective so that the faithful, in a manner adapted to their character, capabilities and age, and conditions of life, are able to learn Catholic doctrine more fully and put it into practice more suitably.

To put it simply, whatever is used for catechesis must promote "Catholic doctrine"; not pan-Christianity, not a multi-denominational vague Christianity, but Catholicism. Taize materials and prayers are by their nature vague and written from a point of view of not promoting any specific denomination, much less the true faith proclaimed by the Catholic Church. In fact, Taize prayers and practices go out of their way to avoid promoting Catholicism. In that sense they are just your typical Protestant group, seeking for unity and oneness apart from the physical unity that comes from adherence to the Catholic Faith.

These norms of course do not prohibit Taize activities from being carried out at the parish level; ultimately this would be the call of the pastor or bishop. But the canons do give us a broad vision of how catechetical and devotional practices are to look at the parish level. Lay persons are supposed to occupy themselves with learning the Catholic faith and being able to defend it in their state in life; pastors are to make opportunities for such education available and by the solicitude guarantee the Catholicity of whatever materials or programs are used. In short, all the resources of a parish are to be directed towards the building up of the Catholic faith. The code does not envision a situation where non-Catholic materials or programs are brought in to do this, nor a situation where non-Catholic materials or prayers from something like Taize would be preferred over traditional Catholic prayers sanctioned by long use and Tradition.

The Popes and Taize

This should be enough to settle the question, if it were not for the problematic fact that Taize has been endorsed by several popes. Blessed John XXIII called Taize a "little springtime" and John Paul II referred to it as a "spring of water" [4]. The latter pontiff in particular seemed to regard Taize as a kind of experimental model for the new ecumenism and allowed certain liberties to be taken regarding communio in sacris with Taize that would not have ever been permitted in other circumstances; more on this below. But for now, let's look at the attitude some of the popes have taken on Taize.

John Paul II visited Taize during his pontificate and was a friend of Brother Roger personally. During his visit, he made an interesting comment about the mission of Taize being to strengthen Protestant's ties to their own denominations. He said:

By desiring to be yourselves a "parable of community", you will help all whom you meet to be faithful to their denominational ties, the fruit of their education and their choice in conscience, but also to enter more and more deeply into the mystery of communion that the Church is in God’s plan." [5]

While it is undeniable that John Paul II endorsed Taize and spoke favorably of it, I cannot be anything other than mystified by his praise of Taize's role in helping Protestants be "faithful to their denominational ties." In other words, yes, Taize is great, if you want to help Protestants be better Protestants.

Yet, in the same sermon, John Paul II stated that the commitment to dialogue and spirit of openness manifested in the Taize community were valuable assets in restoring the "visible unity" of Christendom in the quest for "full communion of one same faith":

"I do not forget that in its unique, original and in a certain sense provisional vocation, your community can  awaken astonishment and encounter incomprehension and suspicion. But because of your passion for the reconciliation of all Christians in a full communion, because of your love for the Church, you will be able to continue, I am sure, to be open to the will of the Lord.
By listening to the criticisms or suggestions of Christians of different Churches and Christian communities and keeping what is good, by remaining in dialogue with all but not hesitating to express your expectations and your projects, you will not disappoint the young, and you will be instrumental in making sure that the effort desired by Christ to recover the visible unity of his Body in the full communion of one same faith never slackens." [6]

With all due respect and deference to the late pontiff, there is a certain contradiction in his words. One cannot help but wonder how Taize is helping the disunited Christians of the world towards "full communion" in "visible unity" if, as John Paul states, Taize helps non-Catholics "to be faithful to their denominational ties." Full visible communion is only possible if an individual or ecclesial body is in formal union with the successor of Peter; i.e., if they enter the Catholic Church. How can this visible unity be attained if Protestants are being encouraged to remain faithful to their own denominations? It is an obvious contradiction, not unlike Mother Teresa's comments that the way she spreads the love of Christ is by encouraging Muslims to be better Muslims and Hindus to be better Hindus.

Benedict XVI also has praised Taize. As recently as December 29, 2012, the pope stated that Taize exemplified a "spiritually lived ecumenism" and that the example of Brother Roger calls us all to:

"let ourselves be guided by his witness towards an ecumenism which is truly interiorized and spiritualized...may all of you be bearers of this message of unity. I assure you of the irrevocable commitment of the Catholic Church to continue seeking the paths of reconciliation leading to the visible unity of Christians." [7]

It would be interesting to know how Benedict defines an ecumenism that is "interiorized and spiritualized"; presumably he means an ecumenism that does not simply seek institutional communion but a true and deep conversion and true reconciliation of heart. However, it is interesting that neither John Paul II nor Benedict XVI, despite noting Taize's commitment towards "reconciliation" and "full communion" mention actual return to the Catholic Church as a viable option. This is ironic, since only by return to the Catholic Church can there be any "full communion."

This situation with full communion is not that complicated. It could be solved tomorrow. It could be solved if all the Protestants of the world abjured Protestantism and joined the Catholic Church. The only problem is they don't want to. It's not a matter of seeking "paths of reconciliation", but of using charity, reason and prayer to guide our separated brethren to walk down the one path into the one sheepfold.

Do the popes support Taize? Yes they do, but their support for it is in the context of support for a broader "new ecumenism" that replaces what has been called the traditional "outdated ecclesiology of return" with an ecumenism based on "shared faith experiences", as Cardinal Avery Dulles once proposed. So the pope's support of Taize is a support of an experiment in the new ecumenism.

Taize and the New Ecumenism

Note in the comments above that Benedict XVI referred to the "provisional nature" of Taize. This is an interesting comment; it signifies that the status of the Taize community is not what is ultimately desired; that it will eventually give way to something more perfect. Yet, the term "provisional" seems to signify that Taize, though not perfect, will do for now. This a very interesting thing, for the pope seems to be suggesting that Taize represents a kind of transitional step on the road to "full communion" and "visible unity" (what that unity can look like is uncertain, since John Paul II also praised Taize for strengthening the existing denominational ties of its adherents). Taize is an experiment in the new ecumenism, and experiment in which traditional confessional boundaries are crossed and things that never would have been permitted traditionally are allowed as this experiment continues. There is a certain tension and ambiguity with regards to how Taize is treated by the Church.

The best example of this is Brother Roger Schutz himself. Brother Roger, a Protestant pastor from a Calvinist background who never repudiated Protestantism and never considered himself a Roman Catholic, yet he received Eucharistic communion from John Paul II; he took communion every morning at the Catholic Mass in Taizé; and he was given communion by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger himself, at the funeral Mass for John Paul II. Brother Roger even received a Catholic funeral presided over by none other than Cardinal Kaspar. Brother Roger's participation in Catholic liturgies were so frequent that it was rumored that he had secretly converted to Catholicism, something his community vehemently denies. Those in the hierarchy who knew Brother Roger also deny he had any conversion to Catholicism [6]. What are we to make of Brother Roger's participation in communio in sacris?

In a circumstance that can only be called extraordinary and entirely irregular and not sanctioned anywhere in Catholic Tradition, Brother Roger was granted permission to participate fully in the Church's Eucharistic celebrations despite the fact that he was never received into the Church. As off as this sounds, this is the explanation offered by the Vatican for these anomalies. Let's listen to the words of Cardinal Kaspar himself, who called the Calvinist Reformed tradition "a beautiful blend of catechesis, devotion, theological formation and Christian witness" [8]. Kaspar says of Brother Roger:

"As the years passed, the faith of the prior of Taizé was progressively enriched by the patrimony of faith of the Catholic Church. According to his own testimony, it was with reference to the mystery of the Catholic faith that he understood some of the elements of the faith, such as the role of the Virgin Mary in salvation history, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharistic gifts and the apostolic ministry in the Church, including the ministry of unity exercised by the Bishop of Rome. In response to this, the Catholic Church had accepted that he take communion at the Eucharist, as he did every morning in the large church at Taizé."[9]

So because Brother Roger accepted certain aspects of Catholic theology, he was granted an "understanding" that allowed him to receive communion despite not being a formal member of the Catholic Church? This is amazing in its novelty, but it is perhaps an example of the ecumenism of mutual understanding envisioned by Cardinal Dulles?

Even if Brother Roger's status was ambiguous, it is good to stop at this point and remind ourselves of what the Code of Canon Law states clearly an unambiguously:

Can.  844 §1. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments licitly to Catholic members of the Christian faithful alone.

And the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which reminds us that Catholics cannot receive communion at Protestant churches, and likewise Protestants cannot receive communion from Catholic priests:

Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, "have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders." It is for this reason that Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible for the Catholic Church.  (CCC 1400)

The only exception the Church admits of is the case of "grave necessity", but note, only if there is evidence that the Christian in grave danger holds the Catholic Faith, at least as regards those sacraments:

When, in the Ordinary's judgment, a grave necessity arises, Catholic ministers may give the sacraments of Eucharist, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick to other Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church, who ask for them of their own will, provided they give evidence of holding the Catholic faith regarding these sacraments and possess the required dispositions. (CCC 1401)

It is very hard to justify any claim that Brother Roger was in a state of grave necessity when he was receiving communion. More likely than not, Brother Roger's exception to Canon Law and the teaching of the Catechism was allowed an an exercise of the Church's shadowy ex voce teaching; that is, while the Church has not officially changed its law or teaching on intercommunion with Protestants, as an exercise in support of the new ecumenism, the Church has nevertheless proposed an alternate understanding of ecumenism and communion in low level pronouncements, relaxations of discipline and the allowance of obscure situations like that of Brother Roger for the sake of promoting a concept contrary to Tradition without officially changing the Church's position.

To go back to our original question, is there anything "fishy" about Taize prayer? Should Catholics be involved in Taize programs at the parish level? I do not believe it is advisable. Despite the pronouncements of the popes, at the end of the day, Taize is not a Catholic movement. Inspired by Catholicism? Accepting of certain aspects of Catholicism? On good terms with Catholicism? Sure. It is all those things. But it lacks the one thing necessary - full communion with the Catholic Church, which is the one thing that would make it Catholic, and ironically the one thing it lacks even while it professes to seek it. There is no reason why Catholics need to be involved in this when, as Canon Law states, we should occupying ourselves with programs and prayers that teach the Catholic Faith specifically.

[2] ibid.
[5] ibid.
[6] ibid.

[9] ibid.


Jim said...

My opinion is that some are mixing up the different levels going on in this group. One level is the Protestants who have been drawing closer to Catholicism through it. I think the Popes are approving of this aspect, as a bridge for some to come closer. Another level is the Catholics involved, like Brother Alois, who have permission to be in it, and, we pray, are lifting their brothers. As far as I understand they have a Catholic Mass each day there. So maybe they're coming very close to formal full communion. Until that point is achieved, I think we can't treat it as a Catholic movement that we can completely embrace.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

This is a scandal of major proportions and at his funeral, Our Holy Father said that Brother Roger is in Heaven.

It is an axiom that what we do is the most effective of education and the modern Papacy and its praxis - vis a vis Jews and Protestants - has lead to a strengthening of Indifferentism and far too many have become inured to the evil of Universalism.

While I would never sever one of the Bonds of Unity in Worship, Doctrine, and Authority, I can understand the position of the SSPX when it, rightly, identifies the current human expression of the Catholic Church as a different Church than the one that preceded V2.

Anyone over the age of sixty knows that it is a different Church - in that sense - even if they are too frightened to confess that truth

Joseph Bolin said...

It's not clear to me why you object to Taize songs, most of which are simply Scriptural texts. Do you think that a melody is somehow contaminated by the fact that in its origins it came from or is connected with protestants, so that one cannot legitimately or wisely sing, for instance, "Ubi caritas et amor, ubi caritas, Deus ibi est" to that melody? (At least here in Austria, that is in fact one of the most common Taize songs sung.)

Boniface said...

I don't object to Taize songs isolated, just like I don't object to Charles Wesley songs. I do object to Catholics joining Taize prayer groups, however, just like I would object to Catholics joining Wesleyan prayer groups.

Geremia said...

"to avoid every word or act that could slow down their reconciliation"? Doesn't he see that religious syncretism, the tacit assumption of this false ecumenism, is a HUGE scandalon, condemned by numerous popes‽

Geremia said...

Anyone who thinks Taizé is even remotely Catholic needs to read On fostering true religious unity (Mortalium Animos) by Pope Pius XI (Fr. Thwaites, SJ, reading it).

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Isn't it interesting that the then Cardinal Ratzinger (As Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) ditched the classic Papal encyclicals contra ecumenism, and the Syllabus too, as being no longer in effect.

What will the modernists not shred, eviscerate, or ignore so as to implement the political praxis of naturalism in which the effete ecumenism of today is anchored?

Tantumblogo said...

There is another explanation for the seeming contraditions presented above, but it is an explanation I find very uncomfortable and which bodes very ill for the Church. The explanation is this: that, like the change to "subsists in" rather than "is" with regard to the definition of the
Church, the Popes in question subscribe to a theory that there is a super-Christian Church in the making that is perhaps best contained in the Catholic Church, at present, but which will eventuall supersede that Church and all others and replace them with a true, united "church" that includes the Church Christ founded but also all the present separated sects, or as many of them as possible. That is the say, the Church is not the final and true church, but is a constituent element of the future "true church" which is coming into being through the new ecumenism.

This is an explanation that would fit the available data you presented rather well, as well as many other bits of data from various elements of the Church - in particular much of the hierarchy - over the past 50 years or so. It is a belief that is impossible, in my mind, to reconcile with Tradition, but I'm not the Pope. But it is very consistent to what many of the modernist periti who so shaped the last Council believed.

It is very difficult to read such statements from Pontiffs. I have such great respect for the Vicar of Christ as the Aurhority Christ intended, and personally in the men that office is vested in, but I just find these statements very painful. They seem to make a mockery of my conversion from protestantism to Catholicism, a conversion I believe was the direct act of the Holy Ghost and for which I am terribly thankful, but BJPII seems to be saying that the really authentic way to union would have been for me to be a better episcopalian. That such a statement is counterproductive to true ecumenism, union with Rome, I cannot shake. That it seems radically counter to the Tradition of the Faith, I also cannot escape.

It makes me fear I am really missing or failing to understand huge areas of the Faith. It seems to counter the guidance of so many Saints. Such statements seem to scream of indifferentism and doubt, and a concern for satisfying human emotions rather than steadfastly proclaiming the Truth. It just hurts to read such.

But thank you for the post. I know Taize is not Catholic, and should not be in our parishes, even though it is, everywhere. Lord, have mercy on us.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that when 40,000 people gathered in Rome for a Taize meeting they had the Saturday night Taize prayer service in St. Peter's Basilica and Pope Benedict spoke. He said, "A tireless witness to the Gospel of peace and reconciliation, ardently committed to an ecumenism of holiness, Brother Roger encouraged all those who passed through Taizé to become seekers of communion," Pope Benedict said.

"We should listen in our hearts to his spiritually lived ecumenism, and let ourselves be guided by his witness towards an ecumenism which is truly interiorized and spiritualized. Following his example, may all of you be bearers of this message of unity. I assure you of the irrevocable commitment of the Catholic Church to continue seeking the paths of reconciliation leading to the visible unity of Christians. And so this evening I greet with special affection those among you who are Orthodox or Protestants."

Taize doesn't claim to be Catholic but it does have Catholic members and Catholics who participate in the services. I believe that it is such ecumenical dialogue that will bring us to greater unity.

Anonymous said...

Your premise starts with Taize being a movement. It's not a movement at all. Brother Roger never wanted it to be a movement. There are no "taize" groups, nor are they encouraged. There is no special "taize" worship. So, your entire premise is wrong.

Second. Citing Canon Law in itself is grasping for straws. Pharisees were the ones abiding by law and *law only* and Jesus had a huge feud with them for this exact reason.

Can. 209
Not breaking communion, but not promoting it is a bad thing? So if I did not kill a man today, but also did not give a birth to one - somehow makes me a murderer? Please, think about your foul reasoning and tell me, would you recognise Jesus in a form of a muslim or atheist?

Can. 210
Brother Roger actively seaked to become a catholic priest, but was denied the opportunity by the pope himself. This was because, pope thought Roger already did more than humanly possible and could hardly do more as a catholic priest. So - if the church of Rome does not want to formalize it's association with Taize community, it's somehow Taize's fault? So if I hit a person in a face it's his fault for having a face in the first place?

Can. 229
Catholic doctrine. Even as a Catholic I dosagree with this wording, especially in view of the ecumenical movements of today. This clearly shows your non-ecumenic orientation, and there will never be a dialogue between two parties, unless both are willing to talk. I would urge you to encompass all Christianity, the way Christ embraced all humanity, not only (and especially not only) Jews. Furthermore, the next step would be to accept all faiths and denominations as the work of God and finally accept all human expressions of faith as the kaleidoscope through which God is praised and in deed - manifested.

I will stop here as I see further winding down the road, nit-picking and separatism. This separatistic tendencies have divided the Christ' church and they are not bringing it together. There is no tendency of oneness in your writing, and that's what drives you away from the light.

Instead of searching for light, you are actively searching for darkness. You dwell in a well of your own deceptive perfection. You cite law. You see enemies where there are no friends. You are a - for the lack of the better word - a Catholic Pharisee.

"The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector."

Please, think and pray.

Boniface said...

1) Taize is indeed a movement, regardless of Brother Roger's intentions. They do have their own music, CDs, and song books and there are Taize groups out there.

2) Pharisaism is wanting to insist on a strict application of the law for the law's sake, but it is not the same thing as insisting that the law be followed. It is not myself but the Church and the Popes that forbid the sort of ecumenism we have there. Leo XIII, for example: ""The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium." (Satis Cognitum)

3) I am sorry you do not respect the Church's canon law, think it "grasping for straws" and disagree how it is worded. That is not my problem or the Church's problem, but yours. Canon law is the normative means by which the Church is governed.

4) Your approach to spirit of the law versus letter of the law is Protestant, for you are presupposing that one cannot maintain the letter of the law while also acting in charity, which is false.

5) Benedict XVI, who is known as the pope of Christian unity, has himself said that Protestant groups outside the Church cannot be called churches.

6)Jesus would not come as an atheist or a Muslim because He says "I came to bear witness to the truth" and neither atheism nor Islam is true.

Anonymous said...

Jesus left us two commandments ... just two ... Love God ... Love each other. Where's the love my friends? Where is the love? If all Catholics spent more time loving others and less time judging the world would come to know Jesus. May God forgive you for your judging spirit. Go out today and love someone ... regardless of the label you apply to them. Or even better ... because of it.

Boniface said...


Two presume that Jesus two are to commandments are to interpreted minimalistically - as if the act of love alone dispenses us from all other obligations - is silly. Catholics are bound to obey Canon Law in these matters, and Canon Law suggests they should not participate in Taize.

Anonymous said...

I have been in Tazié many times. And every time I was told "Taizé wants no movement". There is a catholic service every day plus common prayers for everyone. Where is the problem?

Geremia said...

@Anonymous: Read the quotes here.

Anonymous said...

Dear Boniface.

1. Taize is not a movement. Singing some music and praying does not a sect make (yet). Brothers still do not promote any new religion, faith or doctrine.

2. You are twisting words. Also citing a pope is very much like citing a hadith in Islam. It's not the word of God. As per popes (good ones and bad ones) in general: how much doggy-doo is enough to spoil the broth? In my opinion - any amount. Food becomes inedible even if minute amount of canine feces enters it.

3. Canon laws? I will be judged for my beliefs and actions on this planet. Including my above interpretation of canon laws. But I would not dare to assume, that any major religion on this planet is not equally sincere in it's search for God.
Do you know that there are no 2 snowflakes alike? And Yet, they become regular water after they melt. Maye catholic faith might be one of the snowflakes and that all people and nations are ONE in God (they become water).
In other words. Even if Canon Laws are (or are not) complete load of caca, God will judge me as a person, not as a member of a religion or sect.

4. It can or cannot be false. You assume, that your interpretation of the law proves visiting Taize and participating in prayers there is anti-catholic. Are you saying that everything catholic church is saying about ecumenical movement after Second Vatican Council simply wrong? Was John Paul II. wrong for praising brother Roger? I am not getting your train of thought, other than - it's more papal than the pope himself...

5. "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."
That's quite enough of a church for me. But pharisees would disagree.

6. You do not know that. Jesus came to bear witness to the truth. The truth is we have no stinking clue what the truth is. Do not assume anything. All we know is that he is the path that leads to Father. I doubt that a Catholic is very different from Muslim in God's eye. We are not judged by what we belong to, but by what we are.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Simply & clearly stated. An illuminating breeze

Kim said...

Look at all music. We sing Amazing Grace in mass and that song was not written by a Catholic. I have friends who are no longer Catholic because they feel we judge too harshly. As Catholic Christians we are to first of all reach out in love to our brothers and sisters regardless of their denomination. May God bless you.

Nicolas said...


The words "normative means by which the Church is governed." and also "Catholics are bound to obey Canon Law" do make me almost vomit.

Let's see. God has a unique and direct relationship with every single human being, without exception. Agree? No? Read no further.

Why, in the name of Jesus Christ, would any man-made institution or movement or doctrine, be allowed to get in the way of that? In between me and God? That is just plain preposterous, if you think about it.

Now, any movement or institution or whatever that wants to support me and offer me loving communal celebration of our love for God and each other, without exception, is welcome by my side.

But someone who tells me I'm doing my love for God and Jesus and creation wrong, well, I just have no words for the feable human arragoance that presupposes.

I truly feel sorry for anyone who is boxed in so much as to think along those lines.

Boniface said...


Why, in the name of Jesus Christ, would any man-made institution or movement or doctrine, be allowed to get in the way of that?

Because the Church is not a man-made institution. It is the Body of Christ on earth who governs in Christ's name and whose traditions must be assented to with divine and Catholic faith.

Nicolas said...

I think one of your first sentences sums you up.

"The ecumenism of Brother Roger and the Taize movement is based on a kind of inclusiveness that focuses solely on things Christians have in common while neglecting to go into issues that could be potentially divisive, a kind of "mere Christianity."

So, given a choice of uniting or dividing, you make it very clear you prefer to choose the path of exclusion and division.

Have you properly thought about that?

What are the limits of division, of dividing? None. There are none. Division can be done infinitely. Mathematically so. Humanly so.

What is the limit of uniting?
One. Union. Mathematically so.

Unknown said...

I think people misunderstand Boniface. I really do. It is this kind of miscommunication that causes anger and has divided the church. Please be patient with me, and read along... (Please don't get angry, at least until you finish reading)
I don't even know where to start. Haha
I think I will start with you Nicholas, sorry for picking on you man, but you are the last one who commented, and you bring math into the equation, which will help me defend Boniface's position. The problem here is Relatvism. Let me explain...

Boniface believes that the Catholic Church is the truth. He is being misunderstood though. Boniface isn't "hating" on non Catholics, he is simply defending the "one truth." He is not saying that God doesn't hear Protestants prayers or that Protestants are bad people. At least that is not what I read. So to accuse him of that plainly dishonest..
At a first glance, Catholics may come across as arrogant. People that aren't truly familiar with Catholic doctrine will most definitely come to that conclusion. Why? Because Catholics claim authority. No other Christian group claims authority like the catholic church does. Well some do, but I will leave that up for your own discernment...

Even though we believe in the same God, the difference between Catholic and Protestants, what it comes down to, is the Eucharist. It is what it boils down to my friends. Either it is truly Jesus in the Eucharist or it is not. Either what the Catholic Church teaches is truth or it is not. As simple as that!! No other way! Because Protestants don't believe in the Eucharist, they don't understand where Catholics are coming from. For Catholics, the Eucharist is the highest form of worship on Earth. Protestants, on the other hand, don't have such a concept. So this is the ONE important factor why Catholics aren't allowed to worship with Protestants. I won't explain why here... But just so you know, christians throughout the ages have chosen to die for their faith in the Eucharist. That explains how important the Eucharist alone is for Catholics.

Because not everyone is catholic, not everyone is familiar with official catholic teachings (as Boniface is). So Boniface has a right to defend what he believes is true, until proven otherwise. But let me reiterate ************ Boniface does not believe that non Catholics are going to hell for not being catholic (that is not Catholic teaching). What Boniface believes is that the Catholic Church possesess the complete CHRISTIAN truth. Simply that.

There can only be one truth, not two or three truths. There can't. Mathematically there can only be one truth.

Jesus is the son of God. He is or he isn't. Both statements can't be true. Either one statement is false, but they can't both be false either. Either JESUS is the Son of God or he isn't. Period. For this very reason, both Muslim and Catholic can't be true. Islam claims that Jesus was only a prophet, but not the son of God. The RC teaches Jesus is the Son of God. So both religions can't be true.

In matters of religion, there can only be one truth. In matters of science there can only be one truth. In chemistry, there can only be one truth. In Biology and astronomy, one truth only. The same for history. Yes, there can be several ways of telling the truth, but it boils down to the one truth. Many groups have elements of the truth, but there is only one complete truth. Either 2+2=4 or it doesn't.

What if I affirmed that 2+2=15, and I poutted and shouted in order to defend my right to believe that 2+2=15 because it is what makes me feel good. I am a good hearted person, and a good, hardworking student, and I love math. I know 2+2=15, and that is my truth. Should I be allowed to believe that?. Should people not point out the truth to me, in order to keep the peace and harmony and love in the world? Imagine being accused of being a Pharisee for trying to point out to someone that 2+2=4 and not 15. So no, not all religions are correct.

person said...

I believe Noel resolved this nicely. As a Catholic, I believe in the infallibility of the Catholic Church. However, for the sake of peace and good will, I think ecumenism ought to be promoted, with the idea of a gradual conversion of all people to Catholicism.

It is perturbing to think of Roger's desire to avoid discussing any differences between faiths. He seems to have anti-Socratic qualities, since he avoids hard discussion.

I think the reason Mother Teresa would encourage Muslims is because it is a peaceful religion. Perhaps she would not try to force a conversion, but just hope that Jesus leads them to where they need to go.

Finally, someone commented on the idea of a super-Christian Church. No fear. God's will is always successful in the Church. It is unsinkable. This is why we can have faith that despite human ignorance and selfishness, God's will is accomplished in the synods and official teachings of the Church.

This was an interesting and thought-provoking article. I suppose really I am thanking the author.

Anonymous said...

Has the author PHYSICALLY been to Taize? Catholics believe that the truth is not completely describable by mere written words, so his protesting seems un-catholic.
A responsible Catholic, on visiting Taize: “One passes through Taizé as one passes close to a spring of water,” said Pope John Paul II when he visited the Taizé community in 1986. As Archbishop of Krakow, he had visited Taizé twice. As pope, he told the throngs of young people who, by the 1980s, regularly filled the place, that at Taizé, “the traveler stops, quenches his thirst, and continues on his way. The brothers of the community, you know, do not want to keep you. They want, in prayer and silence, to enable you to drink the living water promised by Christ, to know his joy, to discern his presence, to respond to his call, then to set out again to witness to his love and to serve your brothers and sisters.”