The Taize community, located near the French village bearing this name, is an ecumenical monastery which has witnessed to the life of prayer and sharing together in community. For many protestants Taize has been an inspiring model of the monastic tradition carried on outside of the Catholic Church. In the summer of 1974, Taize embarked in a new direction by holding its Council of Youth. About 40,000 young people from 120 countries gathered to discuss the world’s needs and the church’s mission. One result was a “Letter to the People of God,” calling for the church to follow more faithfully Christ’s way of simplicity and obedience. Subsequently, Taize’s Prior, Roger Shultz, and a team of young adults spent several weeks in the slums of Calcutta, India, and Chittagong, Bangladesh. There they served the poor, suffering, and dying, while also spending time in prayer and reflection. From that experience they wrote a “Second Letter to People of God.” It was presented originally at a special ecumenical service including officials and representatives from Catholic, Orthodox, and various Protestant denominations, held at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The text of the letter follows.
In Asia, we have been confirmed in our certainty that the wounds now tearing humanity apart can surely be healed. If we could only convey that conviction, here and now, to all those who feel that they have exhausted in vain every possible resource in their commitment for a more human world.
We came here bringing a presence within us, that of so many women and men who feel utterly weary and helpless; some of them fall into despondency or grow resigned, while others plunge into the violence of despair.
Now we are leaving, after having discovered, in the very heart of deep distress, a people’s astonishing vitality, and having encountered witnesses to another future for all.