Vatican City, Jul 26, 2023 / 12:53 pm (CNA).
After 18 years as head of the ecumenical monastic community Taizé, Brother Alois Loeser has chosen a successor.
According to the community, after consulting other brothers, the French Catholic has chosen Brother Matthew (Andrew) Thorpe, 58, to be the Christian fraternity’s third-ever prior.
Thorpe, an Anglican from the United Kingdom, will take up the post on Dec. 3. He joined the Taizé community in 1986.
Taizé is an ecumenical monastic community founded in a small town in the Burgundy territory of France in 1940. Its focus is promoting faith and Christian unity among young people, many of whom participate in the community through retreats and other events.
The group is also known for its distinctive chants, many of which have come to be used and recognized well beyond the community.
Brother Roger Schütz, a Swiss Reformed Protestant, was Taizé’s founder and first prior. Loeser succeeded Schütz as prior after Schütz’s murder during a prayer service in 2005.
“He was killed during the common prayer in the church,” Loeser told the show’s host Tracy Sabol on July 25, “and I had to take [on] the ministry [of prior] immediately the next day.”
“I found so much support in Pope Benedict” during that time, he added. “He supported us so much to continue our vocation of unity.”
The prior explained that today the community has approximately 90 brothers from different Christian denominations. “We want to live unity, the unity of Christians,” he said. “Christ asks us to be one so that the Gospel can really shine in the world.”
The outgoing leader said he began to discuss and pray about choosing a new prior two years ago.
“Some years ago already I felt like we had entered a new stage of our life as a community,” he said. “There are so many changes in the world, in the Church. There are also many more new brothers who did not know our founder, Brother Roger.”
After seeking the advice of the other brothers, he designated his successor, following the rules of the community. In Taizé, the role of prior has no fixed age or time limit.
“I have complete confidence that [Thorpe] will provide continuity and take the right steps to impel our community to be, according to the intuition of its founder, a ‘little parable of communion,’” Loeser said in a July 23 press release.
The Taizé community has been entrusted with leading an ecumenical prayer vigil with Pope Francis in Rome on Sept. 30, a few days before the start of the first of two nearly monthlong assemblies for the Synod on Synodality.
Loeser told “EWTN News Nightly” that listening to young people is a very important point for the community.
Besides providing instruction in the Bible and the Christian faith, “we also listen to them: what are their expectations, what are their questions, what are their sufferings,” he said.
He said Christian unity “has to start on a small scale, has to start concretely.”