Europe has again woken up to news of multiple acts of violence claiming lives across the continent. Yesterday in Berlin an attack at the Christmas market left a reported 12 dead and up to 50 more with injuries. Earlier in the day a gunman opened fire in a Zurich mosque while people were at prayer, seriously wounding two and leaving a third victim with lesser injuries. In a third and unrelated event, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was assassinated at the opening of an art exhibit.
The Conference of European Churches grieves the occurrence of yet more violence against the people of Europe as they go about their daily lives, celebrating friendship and family, working, enjoying community, and worshipping God. These events are but a part of worldwide turbulent times that in recent weeks have seen bombings, suicide attacks, and hostage takings throughout the world including in the Yemen, Somalia, Egypt, Nigeria, Syria, Burkina Faso, and elsewhere. Hundreds have lost their lives in these meaningless acts of violence that have torn apart families and communities.
In our commitment to the promotion of freedom of religion and belief, the Conference of European Churches laments that our Muslim brothers and sisters in Europe were targeted as they sought to exercise their basic human right to worship in community.
Whatever the motives and origins of the violence in Germany, we support the churches of this land and all people of goodwill as the work for a society that rests on freedom, openness, equality, and security for all.
“These tragedies are signs of the turbulent, inscrutable times in which we live,” remarked CEC General Secretary Fr Heikki Huttunen. “Such events call us to foster a spirit of repentance, peace, and dignity in our society, so that all will feel included and secure within Europe.”
The Conference of European Churches joins in prayer for those who had died, for those scarred by injury and trauma, and for those who respond in selfless compassion to human need in times of tragedy.