“Norway has today experienced an unprecedented and horrible level of violence against innocent people,” said Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, a Norwegian Lutheran pastor and general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
Tveit, who is currently in Norway, had just left Oslo when he learned of the bombing of a government building that has left several injured and seven dead.
Norwegian authorities also say a gunman dressed as a police officer fired on youth attending a political camp on Utoya Island killing at least nine.
Late Friday evening Norwegian authorities were quoted as saying the bombing and shooting may be linked and that they had apprehended the shooter on the island.
“Attacking the core institutions of a democratic society and innocent youth gathered for a workshop to discuss political issues, leaves me shocked,” Tveit said. “Being close to these events, I am deeply saddened, realizing that this has happened in my beloved country, with its people, its leaders, and its institutions.”
“In times like this the Norwegian people and government need the solidarity of the international society and the prayers of the worldwide church,” he said. “Now we know the reality of so many others in the world were violence pierces the lives of the innocent.”
Tveit has asked the member churches of the WCC for their prayers and solidarity, saying “we pray that Norway might be able to stand together as an open, peace-loving country also in the future.”
“Let us all stay together for a world of justice and peace, without hate and revenge, but with the values of democracy, caring for the dignity and the human rights of every person,” he said. “We are all created in the image of God.”
Tveit said the worldwide fellowship of the WCC offers its prayers and condolences to the families who have lost loved ones and are victims of today’s violence, to Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his fellow Norwegians.