New Zealand Bishops ‘Horrified’ over Mosque Shootings

Ambulance staff take a man from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. A witness says many people have been killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
AP Photo/Mark Baker
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of New Zealand has reached out to the Muslim community to extend condolences and express solidarity after mass shootings at two mosques Friday.

In a statement posted on the conference website, the bishops address the “Dear Members of the Muslim community” while condemning the violent attacks.

“We hold you in prayer as we hear the terrible news of violence against Muslims at mosques in Christchurch,” the six bishops state. “We are profoundly aware of the positive relationships we have with Islamic people in this land, and we are particularly horrified that this has happened at a place and time of prayer.”

“We are deeply saddened that people have been killed and injured, and our hearts go out to them, their families and wider community. We wish you to be aware of our solidarity with you in the face of such violence,” they declared while wishing “Peace, Salaam.”

The bishops sent out a tweet with a similar message, promising prayers and decrying the “terrible news of violence against Muslims”:

Police currently have four people in custody in connection with Friday’s mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which claimed the lives of 49 people and wounded 42. The New Zealand government has deemed the shootings a terrorist attack.

The prime suspect, Australian citizen Brenton Harrison Tarrant, appeared in court on Saturday, charged for the moment with one count of murder.

According to its most recent census, 1.1 percent of New Zealand’s population of 4.25 million is Muslim, while about half of the population identifies as Christian.

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