OSLO, Norway (CNA/EWTN News) — Catholics in Norway are shocked by what appears to be a terrorist attack on government headquarters in Oslo that killed at least seven people and injured another 15 on July 22.
“We are so used to being this quiet little nation where nothing like this happens,” said Father Paul Bratbak, the communications director for the Diocese of Oslo, in a July 22 interview with CNA.
“It’s just too much to take in at the moment.”
Following the explosion, a gunman opened fire at a youth camp connected to Norway’s ruling Labour Party, killing at least 20 youth, according to The Associated Press.
Responsibility for the explosion and subsequent shooting remains uncertain, though one terror group, the Helpers of the Global Jihad, issued a statement on July 22 claiming responsibility for the attacks.
In the message, the group said the reason they attacked Norway was because of its occupation of Afghanistan.
The statement has not been confirmed as authentic, adding to the confusion Father Bratbak said many Norwegians are feeling.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told CNA July 22 that a statement on the attacks would be released if a religious motivation is confirmed.
Father Bratbak said he was driving back from a weeklong retreat in the mountains when he heard news of the explosion over the radio.
“It’s been a bit of a shock coming back to this after a retreat,” he said. “I was just waking up to the world again.”
After hearing the news, he rushed to get to Oslo.
A road had been blocked off on the side of the cathedral, which is near the government buildings that were destroyed in the explosion.
He said that many of the votive candles in the chapel were lit, evidence of the faithful coming in to pray. There were at least 30 people at evening Mass.
Father Bratbak said, “Everything is so chaotic at the moment still, so we are just trying to keep calm and pray.”