CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (EWTN News/CNA) — Pope Benedict XVI issued a “heartfelt” plea to all on July 24, following the terrorist attacks in Norway. He called on everyone to “abandon forever the path of hatred and escape from the logic of evil,” as he offered his prayers for the victims and their families.
The Pope said that the news of the bombing in downtown Oslo and the subsequent shooting at a youth camp caused him deep sorrow and left him grief-stricken.
The July 22 attacks began when Anders Behring Breivik — by his own admission — detonated a car bomb at the government headquarters in downtown Oslo. That attack took the lives of seven people and injured many more.
Hours later, Breivik appeared at a youth camp for the children of the political Labour Party on Utoya Island and, dressed as a policeman, began a shooting spree. Norwegians gathered on July 24 at the Church of Norway’s Olso Cathedral for a memorial service that was attended by the country’s king and queen.
The number of dead stands at 76 as of July 25, according to Norwegian police. On July 25, 32-year-old Breivik appeared in court.
Also on July 24, during his Angelus address, Pope Benedict reflected on King Solomon’s choice to ask God for a well-formed conscience, a gift that the Holy Father said is essential for societies and people to become truly good.
“In reality, the true quality of our own life and that of society depends on a person’s rightly formed conscience, and on everyone’s capacity to recognize good, separating it from evil, and to try and bring it about patiently to contribute to the cause of justice and peace,” the Pope said.
Politicians, he added, “naturally have more responsibilities, and thus, as Solomon teaches, need God’s help even more.”
His reflection was based on the first Mass reading from the Book of Kings.
In the reading, King Solomon asks God for an “understanding heart,” which the Pope said can be understood as “a conscience that knows how to listen, which is sensitive to the voice of truth, and, therefore, is able to discern good from evil.”
Although Solomon’s request was motivated by his role as the king of Israel, Pope Benedict noted that his example applies to everyone.
The Pope said that each person has a conscience so that he can, in a sense, act as a “king.” People are able to exercise this royal command by choosing to follow their conscience, doing good and avoiding evil.
He brought his remarks to a close by asking the Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom, to help people form “a conscience always open and sensitive to the truth, to justice, to serve the Kingdom of God.”