The annual European Meeting of Young Adults organized by the Community of Taizé took place in the city of Basel (Switzerland) and the surrounding area from 28 December 2017 to 1st January 2018. Tens of thousands of youth gathered for a new stage of the “Pilgrimage of Trust on Earth” begun by Brother Roger at the end of the 1970s. The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, represented by Archbishop Job of Telmessos at the meeting, sent the following message:
Dear young people,
For a few days, Basel will become a European crossroads of Christianity. Switzerland, Germany and France are all associated with these ecumenical festivities. At the end of the year Europe proudly wears its cloak covered with churches. Precious are the confessions that have presided over the destinies of the region, transforming the antagonisms, or even the conflicts of the darkest hours of the wars of religion, into as many opportunities for dialogue and reconciliation. Basel, for a long time center of the Reformation, is today the beating heart of European ecumenism, bringing to an end the many commemorations of the year 2017, devoted to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
The change of attitude undertaken by churches and Christian communities in Europe is a sign of true spiritual growth in the grace of the Holy Spirit. The holy Apostle Paul offers us a summary: “But here is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us walk also under the impulse of the Spirit. (Gal 5, 22-25)
Living by the Spirit is certainly what you will experience in the next few days. The spiritual life of the Christian is in no way cut off from the world. On the contrary, it is constructed and developed in contact with the world. Paradoxically, even in its most radical forms, monasticism has never ceased to be in relation with the world, continuing tirelessly to pray for it. Therefore, not only must we measure the purpose of these meetings, but also the responsibility of its participants: to truly and tangibly embody the fruits of the Spirit that will bring about the restoration of the unity of Christians in the communion of the churches. In the Encyclical of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church (2016) we can read: “The Church does not live for herself. She offers herself for all mankind, for the elevation and renewal of the world in a new heaven and a new earth (see Rev 21: 21). Then she gives her evangelical witness and she shares the gifts that God has given to humanity: his love, peace, justice, reconciliation, the strength of the Resurrection and the hope of eternity.”
Dear young people,
As we had the joy of saying during our recent visit to the community of Taizé in April 2017: “The ‘Taizé event’ crystallizes the aspirations of a youth which is finding it hard to be, hard to believe, hard to live. The ‘Taizé event’ acts as a powerful parable of conversion and reconciliation, focusing on the inner life that allows us to enter the mystery of unity while fully embracing the life of the world.”
We invite you to become aware of your responsibilities as you undertake this journey of faith and hope, encounter and dialogue, prayer and knowledge. Along the pathways of life, some stages matter more than others, some experiences are transformative and powerfully mark the destiny of individuals. The Christian is someone who is on a pilgrimage. A pilgrim on the pathway of his life, as on the roads of the world, someone in pursuit of wisdom and encounter, eager for love and hope. We transform the world as we transform ourselves by putting on Christ.
We congratulate you for taking the time to meet, pray together and live together in the tranquility of these few days, at a time when the rest of Europe and the world is celebrating the end of the year.
We pray for you and bless you. May the grace of unity shine forth in each one of you, and may it bear the hope that sustains the life of the Church, so that you may be worthy workers of peace.
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople