– Help us to give love a safe framework, said the rector in the opening speech, where she talked about “the gloomy night”. Sondre Justad was very moved when he sang and had to stop.
The church invited the people to gather in mourning the mass shooting in Oslo night to Saturday.
Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit were both to be present, but the Royal House announced on Sunday morning that the crown prince has received the corona and must stand over.
Opened with mourning tones
A black-clad crown princess Mette-Marit therefore attended the service alone, which started at 11, to the tunes from Edvard Grieg’s “Sorrow March”.
Tears ran down the crown princess’ cheeks as the hall “To live is to love” was performed as a chorus towards the end of the ceremony.
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The service was led by the bishop and president of the Church of Norway, Olav Fykse Tveit.
The church had announced in advance that the moment would be “marked by the terrorist attack on Saturday night with intercession for all who are affected, relatives, injured and all queer people who live in fear”.
Domprost Anne-May Grasaas opened the ceremony:
– We are gathered in grief, despair, anger and powerlessness, she said.
– There are many indications that the queer environment was the goal. The diversity many have fought for in our country was attacked. It was a gloomy night.
The rector pointed out that the contrast is great to the celebration of diversity and the rainbow party earlier this week.
“We cling to the hope that love is stronger than death,” said the rector, pointing to a need for something “greater than ourselves.”
– We cry out to God, she said and sent thoughts to the dead, injured and relatives.
– Help us to give love a safe framework, she read in prayer.
Here are guests on their way into the church:
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Olav Fykse Tveit read from the message of love in the Bible’s Corinthian letter, that “love endures and endures all things.”
– The greatest of all is love, the bishop read and repeated Minister of Culture and Gender Equality Anette Trettebergstuen’s statement that “the rainbow turned black”.
– Love never ends, he said, adding that it is now “our job to show that it is true”.
– We will love others as we are, said the bishop.
He said bullets can kill.
– But bullets can not take the life of love, they can take the lives of people and create anxiety that puts wounds in the body and mind. We’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again.
– Sorrow and shame
– We miss the joy of love that we so wanted to gather around, Tveit said and stated that there must now be room for all kinds of emotions.
– Tears in grief and defiance are also an expression of love.
– We should have seen it before. Now must we see it. For the opposing forces are strong. The church has not been as clear as it should be, said the bishop, adding that we look at it “with sorrow and shame”.
– Love has not always been given the space it should have. The damage the Church’s words have done, we mourn.
– The diversity between us is a gift. Many queer people have a will and a gift to show love that the rest of us cannot. But what has happened is one person’s responsibility, Tveit emphasized.
He added that it is dangerous when love does not become the greatest.
– Dangerous to life, for those who are exposed to it.
He urged that we humans must be exactly the people we are, “with all the colors of the rainbow.”
– For love never goes wrong.
President of the Storting Masud Gharahkhani was among those who held memorial services. He himself has close acquaintance with a person who was present and had to intervene in the drama.
– A terrorist is a cowardly terrorist. Dear Norway, we do not know all the details, but we know that free society has again been affected, he said, describing the mass shooting as “an act of hatred”.
– It was supposed to be a week of folk festivals, but now we mourn as a nation, he said.
Jonas Gahr Støre was the next speaker out.
– Here from Oslo Cathedral, our thoughts and prayers go to those who are most affected.
The Prime Minister says he has received greetings from heads of state abroad.
– We stand together, he said.
– The shooting in the night hours put an end to the Pride parade, but it does not stop the fight to fight prejudice, discrimination and hatred. This fight is not over. It is not harmless, but we will win it together.
Støre urged to gather strength by turning his back on hatred.
– What we get in return for living with diversity is the strength of a society that has a higher heaven.
The Prime Minister then addressed Norway’s Muslims:
– We know that the hearts of many of you sank, because the perpetrator is associated with an Islamist environment. Know that we stand together, we are one community, and we are responsible for the community together.
Støre pointed out that the message of love in all religions has the same core, and that “the extremists’ attitudes contradict it”.
Grip Sondre Justad sang
Artist Sondre Justad, who is himself openly bisexual, performed the song “Slo Så Hardt”.
Justad also sang “Not Like the Others” towards the end of the ceremony. Then he struggled to keep his composure and burst for a moment.
Leader of the organization FRI, Inge Alexander Gjestvang, was also among the speakers. He started by listing all the colors and properties of the rainbow.
– This year we were finally going to take to the streets again. It is three years since the last time we could fill the city with beating hearts and sparkling smiles, he said.
– We were ready and we were proud. Now we are gathered here in shock and in grief. Unfortunately, this is an important reminder that freedom never comes by itself, and that we can never take it for granted.
– Should not get a centimeter
Gjestvang sent extra warmth to those who are queer and who belong to the same religion as the perpetrator, and who must “tolerate racism as well”.
– Many people have a lot to gain from splitting queer environments and movements. They should not get a centimeter, said the FRI leader.
Mette-Marit lit candles
Cathedral priest Valborg Orset Stene then invited those present to light candles. The Crown Princess was the first to advance.
Stene also stated that the church will be open until 4 pm for anyone who wants to light a candle later.
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Several ministers were present, including Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl, Minister of Finance Trygve Slagsvold Vedum and Minister of Culture and Gender Equality Anette Trettebergstuen.
– Melancholy and beautiful
Trettebergstuen afterwards described the service as “beautiful”.
– It was a sad, but very beautiful moment. I think it felt good for many to meet the warmth and the community that the church can offer, Trettebergstuen told VGTV.
Two people were killed and 21 were injured in the shooting. Zaniar Matapour (42) was quickly arrested and charged with terrorism.
Støre told VGTV after the ceremony that he recognizes the Cathedral for doing it this way.
– The church sends signals of fellowship. We need this after something so cruel, the prime minister told VGTV.
Støre again drew attention to Muslims, because the perpetrator professes Muslim extremism and “abuses religion”.
– And it is doubly bad for queers, where minorities are set up against minorities.
Guri Melby told VG after the service that it was both painful and good to be with.
– Very nice and very sad at the same time, she said.
– The strongest moment was when Sondre Justad was so moved that he could not sing anymore, Melby said.
Also present were Erna Solberg and her husband Sindre Finnes, Abid Raja and Oslo Mayor Marianne Borgen.
– Now we must not turn the hatred against Norwegian Muslims, Solberg told VG after the service.
– Muslims in Norway should feel safe, and it is our task to distinguish between religion and extremism. Extremism is not representative, and I hope the whole of Norway understands that.
Solberg himself has been at the infamous London Pub in his youth.
– I have many queer friends, and we have queer in our party. When homosexuality is still an insult, we have not come far enough.
President of the Storting Masud Gharahkhani described the service as worthy and said that it was strong to be there.
– It was strong to see Sondre perform music while the tears flow, he said.
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Police in place
It is hot, but cloudy and rainy in the capital on Sunday. The security forces are large, and the police are on duty outside the church doors. Many have also gathered outside the church, several of them with flowers in their hands.