The Austrian Catholic Bishops have come out en masse to deplore the “misguided, inhuman ideology” behind the Vienna terror attack Monday evening which killed at least four people and injured at least 15.

– “Our values are stronger than violence and terror. Love is stronger than hate”

Reacting to last night’s tragedy, Archbishop of Salzburg and president of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference Franz Lackner affirmed: “Our prayers are first and foremost for the victims, our condolences go to those who have lost a loved one… Let us stand together with the comfort of compassion and hope”.

“What misguided, inhuman ideology was at work there? Shooting indiscriminately into peacefully assembled people. In the name of God, believers must condemn this act and stand up against it… with all their strength of mind and faith”, Lackner continued.

Calling for the faithful of all religions to defend the precious commodity that is peace, Lackner promised: “We will not bow to violence”.

For his part, the Bishop of Graz, Wilhelm Krautwaschl, wrote in a tweet on Monday night: “Terrible what has happened in Vienna this evening”. Thanking emergency workers for their dedication, Krautwaschl added: “My prayers go out to the victims, their relatives and all those affected”.

Bishop Alois Schwarz of the Sankt Pölten diocese posted a candle on Facebook and wrote there: “Terrifying reports are reaching us from Vienna. Even though the extent of the alleged attack is not yet fully foreseeable, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families”.

Bishop Benno Elbs of the Feldkirch diocese sent out a statement with a heartfelt appeal not to be intimidated by the violence. “An attack like this negates everything we can rely on in our coexistence: respect and esteem for each other, freedom and security. An act of violence like this looks for fear to be engraved in our social memory and wants us to turn against each other”, Elbs warned.

Bishop of the Austrian Armed Forces Werner Freistetter also praised the commitment of police, emergency services and soldiers, and said that their deployment is “a sign that Austrian society will not bow to hatred and terror”.

Also, the director of Caritas Europa, Austrian priest Michael Landau, wrote on Twitter: “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. In these difficult and sad hours, I would like to thank the police, the rescue services and the army, who risk their lives to protect the lives of others. Our values are stronger than violence and terror. Love is stronger than hate”.

– German Bishops’ chair: “No form of terror must have a place in our society”

As the Austrian Bishops were reacting to the tragedy and encouraging emergency services workers and the faithful, support also came from Germany, where German Catholic Bishops’ chair Georg Bätzing insisted “there is no justification for terror and violence”.

“The almost weekly news of terror in Europe shakes me deeply”, Bätzing lamented, adding that his “first thoughts and prayers are for the victims, the many injured and their families”.

“I condemn this Islamist terror, just as I did last week in Nice. No form of terror – Islamist, right-wing or left-wing extremist – must have a place in our society and culture. Terror in the name of religion perverts the name of God. We need an end to violence. We need an end to hatred. We need religions to deliver what they promise: to bring about peace.

“Europe will be a home for people who live together peacefully. We will not let this home be taken away from us. We are united with the people of Austria in prayer and mourn with them”, Bätzing cried.

Further condemnations from Germany of the Vienna terror attack also came from Cardinal of Cologne Rainer Maria Woelki – who called all acts of violence and terror “unjustifiable” – and from Archbishop of Bamberg Ludwig Schick, who called last night’s events “despicable”.

– “Everyone is a target” for extremism, warns president of European rabbis

Though the shootings Monday in Vienna took place in six different locations around the city, they began in a small side street close to a synagogue. Chief Rabbi of Moscow and president of the Conference of European Rabbis, Pinchas Goldschmidt, told Sputnik that “we don’t know yet” whether the terrorists primarily targeted the Jewish community or not, but “we have received word from the Vienna Jewish community that the members of the Jewish community are safe, nobody was hurt during this attack”.

In any case, “it’s not only attacks on synagogues and Jewish community centres; as we have seen in Nice and Lyon and other places – everyone is a target, whether you’re Christian or Jewish, or an atheist”, Goldschmidt warned.

“And today, unfortunately, extremism is attacking anyone. Muslims are being attacked as well as others”, the rabbi continued.

“So, the problem today is extremism – both on the right, and on the religious level, which means on the Islamic extreme.

“And both parts of this extremism are extremely dangerous to Europe today, which is like a powder keg, waiting to be lit by the person who wants to create mayhem in Europe.

“So, we have to have ways to monitor and to stop those who incite extremism. Whether it’s in houses of worship, or on the internet – those people have to be stopped in every way”.

More on Novena on the Vienna terror attack:

Cardinal Schönborn condemns Vienna terror attack, pleads “hate must not be the answer to hate”

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.