The 90-year-old Swiss Protestant was stabbed to death by a 36-year-old Romanian woman during a service Tuesday (Aug. 16) at the community he founded in eastern France in 1940, authorities said. The chants of the community, known for its efforts to foster relations among Christians, have become widely used by churches of a range of denominations.
"Remembering the commitment of Brother Roger and the Taize community to the ecumenical task, we share this moment of grief with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and the church throughout the world," wrote Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a letter to Brother Roger's successor, Brother Alois.
Metropolitan Herman, the ruling archbishop of the Orthodox Church in America, sent a letter to the monastic community, saying that their leader's life was "senselessly taken."
"Throughout the many years of his monastic life and service, Brother Roger was a well-known example of dedication to the work of Christian unity," the Orthodox leader wrote.
The secretary general of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Rev. Kenneth Kearon, also expressed sorrow at Brother Roger's sudden death.
"The news of the death of Brother Roger has saddened Anglicans aroundthe world, and we are especially shocked by the violent manner of his death, which was in stark contrast to his lifelong ministry of peace and reconciliation," Kearon said in a statement. "The Taize community which he founded, whose witness to ecumenism and reconciliation especially among young people will be his lasting memorial, has influenced Christian worship and spirituality worldwide."
Funeral services for Brother Roger are planned for Tuesday (Aug. 23), but other remembrances will occur in other countries. In New York, the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York was to host a "Taize Requiem" Friday (Aug. 19). Mourners were invited to "come sit in silence, chant, pray around the cross and give thanks for Frere Roger's life and work."