CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Division among Churches obstructs the joy of the gospel

HONG KONG (SE): “The divisions within and between the communities, the Churches and society have grown deeper, more hurting. And therefore, reconciliation is a need of the time. Why don’t we, people of different Churches, come together more often? Why don’t we pray together? This shouldn’t be limited to a one-time event, instead, it should be part of our daily Christian life. Division within and between the Churches is an obstacle for the joy of the gospel,” said Brother Alois, the prior of the Taizé Community, during the five-day Pilgrimage of Trust and Reconciliation, the International Meeting of Young Adults, held in Hong Kong from August 8 to 12. 
Taizé is a small community of about a hundred brothers from different Churches who have made a life-commitment to follow Christ together. 
Speaking about the fast changes that affect the lives of the young people today, Brother Alois commented that, “The situations have changed, the circumstances have changed, and the pressure on the young people to be performers and achievers is huge—these are difficulties that have been growing fast during the past years. It is not easy. Many young people turn away from the Church or even faith in Christ. Therefore, the need for trust in God and for a personal conviction of God becomes a greater necessity for the young people.”
He observed, “With China and Hong Kong, deep bonds unite us.” He was highly appreciative of the Church in China which often lives with limited resources yet, among these Christians, there is a dynamic faith. He admired their perseverance and their faithfulness. As a sign of friendship and gratitude to the Christians of China, the Taizé Community printed a million Bibles in 2009 and distributed them in all parts of the country.
Addressing some of members of the press, Brother Alois emphasised the responsibility of young people to care for the poor and the migrants. 
“Look at the joy of the young people here. When they are together, the joy is spontaneous,” he said, adding, “Therefore, trust and reconciliation become more urgent. Today our youngsters are ruled by fears: the fear of the future, fear of the other. So in Taizé, we encourage young people to go out without setting boundaries, especially to the poor”. 
Brother Alois encouraged showing concern for the poor not just by helping them occasionally, but rather by visiting them often. 
In addition, he said that concern for migrants must become part of us not because it is a catastrophe, but because it is a God-given sign of our times. He feels that God wants us to learn to be open to others and this has to be lived in our daily lives.
“Rooting our life in the gospel and deepening our prayer life we learn to go beyond the borders and overcome the divisions between communities, Churches, cultures and countries. The more we can be open to others without being afraid and also be open towards those who are poorer, the greater is the freedom we enjoy,” Brother Alois said.
“People coming to Hong Kong see this rich city, but they also should know that there is so much poverty. The gap between the rich and the poor are growing in all our countries—be it in Asia or Europe,” the prior of Taizé said.
Brother Alois who hails from Germany, was leading the ecumenical gathering of over 2,700 delegates from different parts of the world. He was profoundly grateful to the over 300 host families who opened their homes to welcome the international delegates.
“Finding host families was initially a big challenge because in Hong Kong people live in flats that are very small. But many people have opened their homes to welcome the delegates.  It’s very ecumenical and that’s the main focus in Taize to welcome everyone,” he said. 
The meeting was prepared in close collaboration with the Churches and local Christian communities. Brother Alois was thankful to the Christian leaders, the civil authorities and the volunteers for their commitment. 
“The hospitality we have received in this city touches us particularly,” he said.
Brother Alois recalled Brother Roger, the founder of the Taizé Community, who visited Hong Kong back in 1977 and spent several weeks in a poor neighbourhood of Hong Kong.
He was happy that this time too, the brothers from Taizé regularly accompanied some groups of religious sisters who serve the poorest of the poor in society during their days of preparation for the international gathering over the past few months in Hong Kong. 
“Our elderly in the society are in need of special care and attention, as they are lonely and in poor health. Our youngsters must spare time with them, just to listen to their stories,” Brother Alois said, adding that if he were given a chance to stay in Hong Kong for a longer period of time, he would have loved to be with the elderly just to listen to them.  
“We do not have the answers for all the stories of conflicts that we see in the world today. Yet the necessary contribution that Taizé offers and various Christian Churches, in general, must offer is the possibility to bring the people of the world, irrespective of their nationality, colour or religion, together as brothers and sisters,” he said.
“Pilgrimages such as the one happening in Hong Kong will help them to go beyond the limitations and meet the people of different cultures and traditions in reality. We have a responsibility to tell them about things which the social media do not speak of,” Brother Alois explained. 
Addressing participants during the evening prayer on August 11, Brother Alois shared these challenging words: “The gospel is for us a source of freedom. It enables us to overcome barriers; it encourages us to move forward. In this sense, young Asian Christians have a great contribution to make to the universal Church.
“To all of you who are attempting to live out your faith here or elsewhere in Asia, I would like to highlight some of the great gifts that you can transmit: the freshness of the faith, the value of dialogue between different cultures and religions, the simplicity of a presence of the Church at the service of the poorest.”

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