COPENHAGEN, Denmark, JULY 26, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Nordic Catholic Bishops are calling the pair of terrorist attacks that left 76 dead in Norway "an expression of senseless violence."
The bishops said this in a statement released Monday, in which they convey their "great sadness and dismay" upon hearing the news of the bombing and shooting that took place in Oslo and on the island of Utoya.
The first attack was a bomb explosion in Oslo outside the office of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg that killed eight people. A few hours later, a gunman dressed as a police officer began shooting at a youth camp on the island of Utoya, killing 68.
Authorities arrested 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik of Norway in connection with both attacks.
"These events are an expression of senseless violence and bring untold suffering and despair for many people," the bishops stated. "Our sincere condolences to the victims and the families to whom we promise our prayers and to all the people in Norway, with whom we feel especially connected in these days."
The note was signed by Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, president of the
Nordic Bishops' Conference.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also offered condolences in a letter sent today by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference, to Bishop Arborelius and Bishop Bernt Ivar Eidsvig of Oslo.
"Please accept the deepest condolences of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as this moment of terrible sadness in the beautiful nation of Norway," the letter stated. "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.
"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.
"The Catholic bishops of the United States are in particular solidarity with the Scandinavian Bishops Conference at this time. We pray that you may experience God's grace as you console your people at this moment of intense pain and outrage.
"We join with the church in Scandinavia in working towards peace in our society. As we see exacerbated social divisions overshadow the fact that we are all brothers and sisters who seek a better world for all, we ask God's guidance and inspiration and gift of peace at this troubled time."