Oslo bishop says attacks have united the country and that people have found strength in spite of their grief

Pope Benedict XVI has offered his prayers and condolences to the families of the victims who died in Norway’s devastating terror attacks.

Anders Behring Breivik has admitted to carrying out a bombing in Norway’s capital Oslo and then committing a massacre at a youth camp, killing at least 93 people, many of whom children.

Pope Benedict referred to his “profound” sadness at the devastating loss off life and “senseless violence” committed in Norway on Friday. He sent a message of condolence to King Harald V of Norway, offering “fervent prayers for the victims and their families”, and hoping that “Norwegians would be spiritually united during their national grief in a determined resolve to reject the ways of hatred and conflict”.

Bishop Bernt Ivar Eidsvig of Oslo, meanwhile, said the massacre had “affected every one of us”.

He told Vatican Radio: “Despite political difference or other differences, this is a tragedy. We do not know anything like it in our history, that 100 people are killed in cold blood. So it is creating unity, and in spite of the grief, also strength.”

He said that in Catholic churches yesterday Requiem was celebrated, and prayers for the dead and mourning were said.

The bishop said that ideology was “not sufficient to explain” the massacre, saying: “In all countries, there are disturbed and misled persons. I am quite sure he is one of them.”

Members of the Catholic clergy in England and Wales have also expressed their shock and sadness.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster expressed his condolences to the people of Norway yesterday on the feast of the Scandinavian patron of Europe, St Bridget of Sweden.

The archbishop said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Norway, especially those who have lost their lives, the injured and their loved ones.

“May God grant a merciful welcome into heaven for those who have died and grant strength and faith to those who are mourning and injured.”

He added: “I pray, too, that the people of Norway with be strong in the solidarity they show and resolute in their peaceful resistance to all violence.”

Yesterday Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham said: “I share the profound sense of shock and sadness felt by so many at the tragic and violent death of the young people in Norway and of those who lost their lives or were injured in Oslo.

“I pray especially for the families of those who have died and for all those who must comfort and support them at this time.” Archbishop Longley said that through such terrible events we are reminded of the “constant need to value and cherish the life of every individual because life is God’s gift”.