Trappist monk living the meaning of ‘love your enemies’

Last year I blogged about the film Des Hommes et des Dieux, the story of the Trappist monks of Tibhirine who were murdered during the 1996 Algerian civil war. CNA now reports that one of the survivors of the attack on the monastery, Brother Jean Pierre Schumacher, gave an interview with the Spanish weekly Alfa y Omega about the experience — and how “he has not ceased praying for the conversion” of their attackers. From the article:

Brother Schumacher, who today lives at a Trappist monastery in Morocco, escaped death because the kidnappers did not see him.

The monk was the monastery’s porter at the main entrance when nearly 20 armed men broke into the building. The men entered through a different door, grabbed the security guard and forced him to guide them to the brothers’ cells.” . . .

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The Trappist monk emphasized that Algeria had strong “relations between Christians and Muslims.” He noted that in the world today, if there is conflict in between cultures and religions, “it is because we don’t know each other well enough.  When we mutually know each other, we are like brothers,” he said.

Brother Schumacher said he prays that the world may “progress towards universal brotherhood, that despite the differences between religions, nationalities and cultures, we may learn to know each other and mutually help each other.”

“We must forgive. God calls us to love each other,” he continued, noting that the community’s prior, Father Christian, forgave his assassins.

It’s an inspiring response from someone who has every reason to hate his brothers’ murderers. It reminds me of the Muslims in Egypt who acted as human shields for Christians in the wake of the attack in Alexandria that killed 21 Copts — underlining the idea that, as one man put it, “the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.” Brother Schumacher is living that hard truth in a remarkable way.

Sadly, Des Hommes et des Dieux still isn’t available in the States, so you’ll have to content yourself with the clip below. But you can read the story in the book The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria by John Kiser. [video: 635×355]

  • Margaret Cabaniss

    Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at

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