On meeting Frère Roger at Notre Dame Cathedral

Frère Roger

Roger Schütz (1915–2005) founded the Taizé Community, an ecumenical, monastic community in Burgundy, France. On May 30, 1980, I met Frère Roger at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. He had come for the celebration of a mass with Pope John Paul II and we sat next to each other on chairs that had been specially placed just to the left of the high altar. On the other side of me was the Greek Apostolic Archbishop of Paris. It was quite an imposing moment. All the gold decorative arts of the archbishop was balanced by the golden glow that surrounded Frère Roger.

A few months prior to this grand event, I, along with about 20 English-speaking Protestant ministers in Paris, had been the guest for lunch hosted by the pastor of Notre Dame. At that time, I was a Resident Theologian at the American Church in Paris while studying the physics of the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen thought formula of 1935 with Jean-Pierre Vigier and Olivier Costa de Beauregard. Very early in that luncheon, a less-than-polite guest loudly asked, “Why did the Pope defrock Hans Küng?” Küng was a Roman Catholic professor of theology at the University of Tübingen and the pope was Polish-born, John Paul II. After an uncomfortable pause, I asked, “May I volunteer to answer that question?” Encouraged to do so, I replied that I knew Küng, especially three of Küng’s doctoral students who at that time were in a special program at Harvard. They had told me that Küng was asking to be defrocked. His questioning of the divinity of Jesus had pushed him well outside the inner circle of believers. My answer seemed to satisfy the questioners, so the luncheon comfortably moved on. It was just a couple of months later while on the approach to Notre Dame that the pastor saw me coming. He quickly greeted the senior ministers, then came up to me and looped his arm in mine and ask if he could guide me to a seat, and yes, that was to the “First row, high alter left, between the golden boys.”

I had a delightful discussion with Frère Roger, who was to my right, and a more formal discussion about the Nicene Formula and the hypostatic union with the gentleman on my left.

I hadn’t realized how grateful the senior pastor was for my quick answer to what could have been an embarrassing question.

Referencing page: https://81018.com/just-a-second/#Afterthoughts

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