.- The U.S. Catholic bishops have offered their prayers and “deepest condolences” to the people of Norway in the aftermath of the bombing and mass murder spree which killed dozens.
“The assault on government buildings in Oslo and a neighboring youth camp reminds us again of the fragility of life and the challenge to overcome evil in its many forms,” Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York said in a July 26 letter to Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, who heads the Scandinavian Episcopal Conference, and Bishop Bernt Ivar Eidsvig of Oslo.
“The almost unfathomable tragedy and the deaths of so many innocent people touch the hearts of people all around the world and call us to special prayer for the victims, their families and the people of Norway especially,” said Archbishop Dolan, who heads the U.S. bishops’ conference.
The July 22 attacks began when Anders Behring Breivik, by his own admission, detonated a car bomb at the government headquarters in downtown Oslo.
Hours later Breivik appeared at a youth camp for the children of the Labour Party on Utoya Island and, dressed as a policeman, began a shooting spree. The police said that 68 people were killed in the twin attacks.
The attacker claimed he was trying to save the Western world from Muslim colonization. Before the attacks, he released a 1,500-page manifesto in which he criticized the governing Labour Party for allowing Muslims to immigrate to Norway.
Archbishop Dolan called the attacks a “moment of terrible sadness” and voiced “particular solidarity” with the Scandinavian bishops.
“We pray that you may experience God’s grace as you console your people at this moment of intense pain and outrage,” he continued.
“We join with the church in Scandinavia in working towards peace in our society … we ask God’s guidance and inspiration and gift of peace at this troubled time.”
Pope Benedict XVI on July 24 said the attacks caused him deep sorrow and left him grief-stricken. He called on everyone to “abandon forever the path of hatred and escape from the logic of evil.” He also offered his prayers for the victims and their families.