On the Death of Osama bin Laden

I don’t want to dedicate much of my blog to the death of Osama bin Laden, but I feel as though it would be historically irresponsible not to gather here the comments I’ve made on friends’ blogs and facebook.

I turned the TV on when I came home and noticed that the news anchors were on, despite it being late Sunday night, and I saw the headline. I immediately prayed the traditional Catholic requiem prayer. I thought it was the only appropriate response.

The immediate reaction of Americans was incredibly disheartening. Chants of “God Bless America!” and “U-S-A,” fireworks in the streets, playing patriotic songs. I opened the Instagram app that night, and many of the Popular tab photos were of American flags. One comment said, “Let’s make the #popular page red, white, and blue tonight!” So sad. A radio commentator finally mentioned that, on 9/11, countries that hate the U.S. rejoiced and burned the flag the same way Americans are draping it around their shoulders and flying it high now. I don’t believe in karma, but that should give us pause.

Some may ask how I can pray for him, how I can ask God to have mercy on the soul of a man who did such awful things. I would reply that I believe God to be merciful. To all people. No matter what they have done. I believe in hell, but I hope that it is empty: empty of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Franco, Saddam Hussein, and yes, even Osama bin Laden.

I am glad that bin Laden can no longer harm anyone else, in the U.S. or anywhere in the world. I don’t believe international terrorism will cease (of course not), or even the efforts of al Qaeda. I am glad that there are men and women such as Navy SEALs Team Six who are willing to face the front lines so I can sleep soundly at night. But I am not glad that he is dead. The Vatican hit it across the plate this time, issuing the perfect statement very quickly. (They must have had it planned years ago.)

“Osama Bin Laden, as is known, claimed responsibility for grave acts that spread division and hate among the peoples, manipulating religion to that end. A Christian never takes pleasure from the fact of a man’s death, but sees it as an opportunity to reflect on each person’s responsibility, before God and humanity, and to hope and commit oneself to seeing that no event become another occasion to disseminate hate but rather to foster peace.” (emphasis mine)

Amen. If you are really pro-life, you have to support all life, even those lives you wish had been characterized by better choices.

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