In a week of brutal inter-ethnic violence and a series of attacks by extremists claiming to act in the name of Islam, the World Council of Churches has condemned the violence and called for confronting the brutal ideologies behind them.
“The unbearable toll of lives lost, and the impact on the affected communities and nations, must engage the concern, solidarity and action of the international community and all people of goodwill,” wrote Rev. Ioan Sauca, interim general secretary of the World Council of Churches.
This must be done to “stem the bloodshed and to confront the brutal ideologies behind such atrocities,” he said on Nov. 3.
He was commenting on violent extremist attacks in western Ethiopia, Kabul and Vienna that followed another attack in Nice France last week,
“In an attack on ethnic Amharas in western Ethiopia on November 1, 54 people are reported to have been killed, in a tragic escalation of the ethnic violence which threatens the very fabric of the Ethiopian nation.
The on Nov. 2, gunmen attacked Afghanistan’s largest university, killing at least 19 people and wounding more than a dozen, in the second deadly assault on an educational institution in the capital resulting in mass casualties in just over a week.
“And now in an apparent religiously-inspired extremist attack in Vienna – which began outside the Seitenstettengasse Synagogue, four people are reported killed and another 17 wounded,” said the WCC.
The WCC said the “Seitenstettengasse Synagogue, the main house of prayer for the Viennese Jewish community” has been the target of past violent attacks.
Gunmen opened fire in six different locations in the Vienna city center and at least one suspect was still at large.
The WCC categorically denounced all the attacks, “and its rejection of any attempts to justify such violence on religious grounds,” Sauca said.
“Merciful God, bring peace to a world increasingly riven by divisions and hatreds. Introduce compassion and wisdom to those leaders who so fearfully lack these qualities and who incite hatred and violence,” he prayed.
“Bring peace to a world increasingly riven by divisions and hatreds. Introduce compassion and wisdom to those leaders who so fearfully lack these qualities and who incite hatred and violence. Comfort all those who mourn the precious lives lost, and encourage and protect the communities now living in fear.”
On Oct 29, Pope Francis expressed his sorrow and offered prayers for a “savage attack” in at a church in the French city of Nice in which three people were killed in a knife attack described as a “terrorist incident” and which was denounced by the French president and the WCC.
And two days earlier WCC’s joined global Christians and the United Nations in expressing horror at the brutal attack on schoolchildren in Cameron in which assailants slaughtered at least eight students with firearms and machetes.