Catholic and Protestant bishops expressed dismay after the events in Halle/Saale and expressed their solidarity with the Jews in Germany. Pope Francis on Wednesday commemorated the victims of the attack.
At the end of the third working day of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican on Wednesday afternoon, the head of the Church prayed for the victims, as the Vatican press office announced in the evening. Accordingly, the Pope had also prayed at the beginning of the work in the morning for the Jewish communities, which this Wednesday celebrate the High Holiday Yom Kippur.
The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, and the chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, strongly condemned the attack on a synagogue in which two people died.
Marx said he was "appalled and shocked by the cowardly attack". The perpetrators had apparently deliberately chosen Halle's synagogue to spill blood on the highest Jewish holiday. The cardinal stressed, "We stand in solidarity with our fellow Jews. Anti-Semitism or even blind violence must have no place in our society."
"Let us pray for the victims and their relatives"
Bedford-Strohm said he was "Fangless in the face of this atrocity". He called for not allowing Jews "to have to live their faith in fear and uncertainty in our country. As Christians as well as Germans, we are called to oppose this." Because anti-Semitism is blasphemy, he said.
"I am shocked by the news from Halle," Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki wrote on Twitter. "Let us pray for the victims and their relatives and work together so that Jews in Germany never have to be afraid again."
The Catholic Archbishop of Berlin, Heiner Koch, declared via the short message service: "It makes me despair that Jews still cannot live in peace and without fear in our country. I stand by the side of our Jewish neighbors and mourn with them."Koch wrote: "We will not allow hatred of any kind, but especially hatred of Judaism, to achieve its goal of dividing our society!"
The Catholic Bishop of Magdeburg Gerhard Feige and the Protestant Bishop of Central Germany Friedrich Kramer also expressed their shock. Feige, who is from Halle, called it "a human catastrophe that Jews in Germany cannot live in peace and celebrate the Day of Atonement Yom Kippur". Kramer called the act "despicable and unbearable". He said all people of good and peaceful will are called upon to "oppose a climate of hatred and all violence". The bishop of Dresden-Meissen, Heinrich Timmerevers, expressed his "deepest shock" on Twitter.
Demand for better protection
After the events, Hamburg's Archbishop Stefan Hebe called for better protection of Jewish communities. "We must think more seriously than before about how Jewish fellow citizens can live safely in Germany," Hebe said in Tabgha, Israel, where he is currently staying with a group of teachers. "It is important to me that we as Christians show solidarity with our Jewish sisters and brothers in the faith and make an active contribution to peace in our society."
It is inconceivable, which acts of anti-Semitism in Germany make possible again, so Hebe further. He said it was appalling that the act had occurred on the Feast of Atonement Yom Kippur, the highest Jewish holiday. It thinks of the victims and the people whose lives were in acute danger.
"Solidarity and solidarity"
The lay community of Sant'Egidio declared its solidarity and attachment to the Jewish community in Halle. "For many years Sant'Egidio has been in close friendship with the Jewish communities in many German cities and has maintained a good collaboration."She also called for "moderation in language," because too often prejudices become acts of violence.
The World Council of Churches (WCC) condemned the attack and called for better protection of minorities. He spoke of an attack on the Jewish community "and all who profess a peaceful and liberal coexistence".
"Negligence has taken bitter revenge"
There had been an attack outside Halle synagogue on Wednesday in which two people were killed. A perpetrator had unsuccessfully tried to enter the Jewish place of worship, where up to 80 people were staying, Jewish community chairman Max Privorozki reported. According to police, one suspect has been arrested so far. However, the exact background is unclear so far. Jews around the world celebrated their highest holiday Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) on Wednesday.
The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, said the brutality of the attack on the highest Jewish holiday exceeds anything seen in recent years. "That the synagogue in Halle was not protected by the police on a holiday like Yom Kippur is scandalous. This negligence has now been bitterly avenged."
The Conference of European Rabbis also expressed its horror: "It is inconceivable that violence against Jews in Germany is increasing and that people are being shot at on Yom Kippur, of all days, the Jewish festival of reconciliation". This is a new dimension of hatred and violence against Jews in Germany," said President Pinchas Goldschmidt.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin appealed to German politicians to fight anti-Semitism with the full force of the law. The latter raises its head again and again in Europe and worldwide. However, he not only threatens the Jews, "but threatens to destroy us all".
"Terror has no faith and no nationality"
Islamic associations in Germany condemned the attack "in the strongest terms". The heinous act shows that "terror has no faith and no nationality," the Coordination Council of Muslims (KRM) said in Cologne on Thursday. The Turkish Islamic association Ditib, which is a member of the coordination council, described the act as an "attack on social cohesion and on our common, peaceful coexistence".
"This act of terror is directed against all of us, it is directed against our social cohesion," said KRM spokesman Zekeriya Altug. The Coordination Council expresses its condolences to the victims, their families and the city of Halle and wishes the injured a speedy recovery. At the same time, the Coordination Council called for "solidarity and solidarity" in society. Needed is "a broad alliance against hate and terror". Furthermore, he demanded a complete clarification of the background of the crime, which goes beyond the "lone wolf theory".
Ditib board chairman Kazim Turkmen sees Wednesday's act as an indication of "an increasing division and polarization of our society and a radicalization of our debates and discourses". Right-wing populism and protectionism are "increasingly setting the tone" in society, they say. The crime also brings back "terrible memories of the terrorist attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka," where countless Muslims and Christians were murdered during church services.
Dismay in politics and society
Top representatives of state and society expressed dismay at the act. At the Festival of Lights in Leipzig to mark the 30th anniversary of the start of the peaceful revolution, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: "A day of joy has become a day of suffering." He called for solidarity with fellow Jews. The Festival of Lights, for which several thousand people had gathered on Augustusplatz, began with a minute's silence for the victims of Halle.
"The fact that a synagogue is shot at on the Feast of Atonement Yom Kippur hits us in the heart," Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) wrote on Twitter. "We must all take action against anti-Semitism in our country."
CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told Berlin's Tagesspiegel newspaper (Thursday) the attack was "an alarm signal that can leave no one in Germany untouched".
The German government's anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (Thursday) that the incident showed how important security measures were for Jewish institutions in Germany. He stressed that the state and society "must now demonstrate solidarity to the Jewish communities through decisive action. It must be clear: This is an attack on all of us. And Jewish life belongs to Germany."
"Immediate action" expected"
The Executive Vice President of the International Auschwitz Committee, Christoph Heubner, said, "That an attack can be made against Jewish people on the highest holiday of Judaism in Germany is a deep pain for survivors, reminding them of the darkest and most murderous times of anti-Semitism in Germany." The Auschwitz Committee expects "immediate measures by a defensible state, which must above all focus on arming the far-right scene".
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also commented on the act. He assessed the incident as "another tragic demonstration of anti-Semitism," a UN spokesman said Wednesday in New York. Guterres offered his "deepest condolences" to the families of the victims, the German government and the people of Germany.