Brother Roger Laid to Rest

John ArmstrongThe Church

Brother Roger (see August 22) was laid to rest today in France. The service was led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, who served the communion to all who gathered. As Brother Roger would have wanted it there was no distinction made between Catholic and Protestant in the distribution of the elements.

Kasper noted that two things marked Brother Roger’s long life and ministry. First, he worked humbly and tirelessly for real ecumenism. He did not seek to change "official" dogmas but chose to demonstrate the common bonds that unite all who love Christ. Second, Kasper noted that "every form of injustice or neglect made him very sad." I pray that both will motivate me more and more as I seek to be an agent for reformation.

Brother Roger was the son of a Swiss Calvinist minister. He began the community he is now famous for, near Cluny, France, in 1940. He obviously did not see irresolvable conflict between his Reformed heritage and his ecumenical vision. I have come to agree with him over the course of the past ten years. I am happy to affirm the core of Reformed confessional life while embracing a healthy Christ-centered ecumenism at the same time. I know some conservative Protestants either misunderstand me or oppose me for this stance but I see, like Brother Roger, what I believe is a better way (1 Corinthians 13; Ephesians 4;4-6). I wish I could live this vision as well as he did.