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Norway's Churches Try to
Foster Healing After Attacks
By Oivind Ostang ©2011 Religion News Service
Norwegian bishop addressing the recent bombing and shooting attacks in Norway said his country has “countered this insane terrorism by demonstrating love and solidarity.”
“We have brought out a social capital we maybe even did not know was there. We must rebuild our trust in human beings as fellow human beings,” said Church of Norway Bishop Tor Singsaas of Nidaros at the opening of the annual St. Olav Festival in Trondheim on Thursday (July 28).
On July 22, Anders Behring Breivik bombed a government building in Oslo, then massacred youths at a nearby summer camp, killing 76 people in all, according to law enforcement officials.
Since the attacks, Norwegian priests and church workers have joined in caring for the survivors and the victims' families, with churches opened for people seeking comfort and community. Oslo's Lutheran Cathedral, situated a few blocks from the damaged government buildings, has become a center for mourners to light candles. Outside the cathedral, flowers cover large areas and also the street.
As Norwegian police finish the complex task of identifying victims, burials will begin to take place all over the country, most of them in Church of Norway churches and chapels.
Last Sunday, Oslo Cathedral changed its regular service into a televised “Mass of grief and hope.” “We will not let fear paralyze us,” said Church of Norway Presiding Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien in her homily.
Preaching to a packed cathedral, and with Norway's royal family and political leaders present, Byfuglien said, “In the midst of the gruesome, something beautiful is emerging: the God-given ability of every human being to show goodness and charity. This makes us see glimpses of God.”