The president of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization says the recent shootings in Norway, whose perpetrator claimed to be defending historically Christian countries against Islam, had nothing to do with God and authentic Christian faith.
“This is a sad moment for everyone. We could never make religion an instrument for violence. God cannot be present in the killing of people,” said Archbishop Salvatore “Rino” Fisichella, president of the Vatican's newest pontifical council, in a July 28 interview with CNA.
Anders Behring Breivik, who has confessed to attacks that killed 77 people in Norway on July 22, said the bombing and shootings were a strike against the multicultural attitude he believes will allow Muslims to dominate Europe.
In an online manifesto, Breivik said he was “not an excessively religious man” but “a supporter of a monocultural Christian Europe,” and therefore, he reasoned, a Christian.
Archbishop Fisichella took pains to differentiate this attitude from an approach rooted in the Gospel message. Christianity, he said, is not the cultural weapon of Breivik's imagination, but “a religion of love, of rejoicing, and of respect.”
“We could never accept violence made in the name of religion and in the name of God,” he stated.
The archbishop said that amid changing European demographics, Christians must love their neighbors regardless of religious differences.
“The word 'respect' is very important for us and very Biblical. It means that we know that there is someone else who probably does not think the same way or know my religion, but we respect them, and they should respect our own thoughts and religion.”
He pointed out that the recent increase in Islamic immigration can challenge Europeans to develop a deeper grasp of their own Christian tradition.
“We cannot forget that in Europe, the Christian identity is very weak. Many people do not know what the main content of the faith is, and the challenge that Islam and other religions present is (for them) to better understand their own traditions and origin.”
“This is why I think one of the instruments for the New Evangelization should be to understand our identity and our belonging to the Church.”
Archbishop Fisichella said an authentic re-awakening of faith in Europe would require “Christians that are credible for their way of living and not just their intentions,” to show their countries the “new lifestyle” that Christ proclaims.