“The wounds of history can scar the consciousness and mentalities of people for generations, but the humiliations which were endured do not always have to lead to violence,” Br. Alois told the youth who hailed from diverse cultures.
“Healing can come, not through the victory of one group over another, but when people’s hearts make room for the dignity of others to be respected,” the current Taize Community leader added.
The meeting, happening in the wake of deadly xenophobic attacks in South Africa, was held following an invitation from church leaders drawn from the Catholic, Annglican, Methodist and Dutch Reformed Church denominations in the country.
Among the church leaders who participated in the event were Catholic Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town and Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town who led in the opening and closing prayers respectively.
Other church leaders included Anglican Archbishop John Sentamu of York, England, Catholic Bishop Stanley Dziuba, who is in charge of the youth ministry in Southern Africa, as well as retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu who “has been a friend of our Community for many years”, and who took 144 youths to the Taize community in France in the 1970s.
This was the third time the Brothers of Taize were visiting the country. The first visit was in 1978 when Taizé community founder Br. Roger visited Crossroads township in the city to show solidarity with the victims suffering from South Africa's oppressive policies.
The second time was in 1995 when Br. Roger returned to the country to “celebrate with the youth South Africa's peaceful transition to a non-racial, non-sexist democratic dispensation.” The 1995 meeting was held in Standard Bank Arena in Johannesburg at the invitation of church leaders from mainstream and local churches.
According to the organizers of the pilgrimage that concluded on Sunday, September 29, the spiritual gathering brought together youths from 17 African countries, 14 European countries, the USA and the islands of Madagascar and Mauritius.
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