The World Council of Churches has strongly condemned the unprecedented mass killing of disabled people in Japan by a man who believed they should be euthanized saying it demands the affirmation of the right of all to life.
The mass stabbing at a center for people with disabilities outside Tokyo on July 26 shocked Japan, a country where violent crimes are extremely rare, The New York Times reported.
"The gift of life is an absolute fundament of human values and human rights," said WCC acting general secretary Rev. Hielke Wolters, after the attack.
"We grieve with the families of these 19 men and women, robbed of their futures by this savage act, and for those injured," said Wolters.
"We pray for and with them, and we stand with our member churches and all persons of good will pledging to protect and nurture the precious gift of life, especially where it is most restricted and challenged."
The killer had worked at the center and had expressed strong views about euthanizing disabled people.
He returned to the center with a bag of knives at around after midnight, systematically slitting the patients' throats as they slept.
The killer left the building 30 minutes later, leaving 19 people dead in the worst mass killing in Japan since the Second World War.
He killed people with ages ranging from 19 to 70. Twenty-six people were wounded, 13 of them critically.
The WCC acting general secretary noted a statement by the WCC's Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network, adopted a month ago by the council's governing body titled, "The Gift of Being."
He said, "All persons bear the image of God, are beloved of God, and deserve our loving care because, in the end, all persons are vulnerable. This assault violates our deepest convictions and the singular duty we owe each other as children of God."
Wolters noted, "As societies, we are in danger of forgetting or denigrating the personhood and value of those who suffer from chronic physical or mental disease or injury.
"Yet all our ethics and core commitments to human rights really begin here, with the affirmation of the sacred value of all human life."
Dr. Samuel Kabue, EDAN's program executive said, "Life is a gift from God, and no one has a right to take it. This goes beyond any religion in that the world community through the United Nations has clearly stipulated that everyone has a right to life.
"The Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities is very clear on this when it states that every human being has the inherent right to life and every state shall take necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others."
He said the murdered people deserved protection by the State, and people who previously expressed negative sentiments on the lives of people with disabilities should be kept away from any institution looking after them.