Pope alarmed at 'xenophobic ideology' after Norway massacre

19th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Pope Benedict XVI and Spain's prime minister voiced concern Friday at the "rise of xenophobic ideology" in Europe following the mass shooting in Norway.

The pontiff, in Madrid for the Catholic World Youth Festival, held talks with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on wide range of issues, including the international economic situation, the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa and the uprisings in the Arab world, the premier's office said.

The two discussed "various current issues, such as the recent events in Norway and both were concerned about the rise of a xenophobic ideology that threatens the values of religious freedom and coexistence characteristic of European society," it said in a statement.

In Norway's worst peace-time massacre, rightwing extremist Behring Breivik allegedly shot and killed 69 mainly young people in a rampage on the island of Utoeya on July 22.

Breivik, 32, chose the island for his shooting rampage because it was hosting a summer camp for members of the youth wing of Norway's ruling Labour Party.

A further eight people were killed by a massive bomb that he detonated outside government offices in Oslo.

During his previous visit to Spain in November, Benedict railed against social reforms introduced by Zapatero such as same-sex marriage and easier access to abortion, prompting the prime minister to defend the measures.

© 2011 AFP

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