Church, World Mourn for Attack Victims

Explosives ripped through Norwegian government headquarters in Oslo on July 22, leaving 7 people dead and dozens injured. The same day, witnesses said a man dressed as a police officer opened fire on people attending a summer youth camp run by the country’s governing Labor Party on the island of Utoya. Police said at least 86 people died in the shooting, and at least 96 other people were injured in the combined attacks.

Pope Benedict XVI condemned the violence and called for an end to hatred and ideologies that promote evil. “We are all deeply saddened by the serious terrorist acts,” the pope said on July 24. He appealed to all nations to “abandon once and for all the path of violence and avoid principles of evil.”

The pope sent a message to Norway's King Harald V through Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, offering prayers for all those affected by “the acts of senseless violence perpetrated in Oslo and Utoya.” The message asked the country to “be spiritually united in a determined resolve to reject the ways of hatred and conflict” to forge “a future of mutual respect, solidarity and freedom.”

The suspect, 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik, has admitted to carrying out the killings but has not admitted any criminal wrongdoing. He pleaded not guilty in an Oslo court July 25 after being charged under the country’s terrorism law. Breivik’s lawyer, Geir Lippestad, told admitted that his client “wished to attach society and the structure of society.” To Breivik thought “it was gruesome having to commit these acts,” he determined that “they were necessary.”

Bishop Bernt Eidsvig of Oslo told Vatican Radio July 25 that the country was united in mourning for the victims and still in shock over the killings. “It has affected every one of us. Despite political differences or other differences, this is a tragedy,” he said. “We do not know anything like it in our history, that 100 people are killed in cold blood. So it is creating unity, and in spite of the grief, also strength.”

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