Monday, May 2, 2011

Vatican on Bin Laden

"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."

I thought this statement was very well said.

My mom always told me when my brothers would harass me or if I had picked a fight at school that I should not "sink to their level." I couldn't help but think of that wisdom as I learned this morning that celebrations broke out last night in various parts of our country over Bin Laden's death. I get the fact that he was a symbol of terrorism, but it seems like he would continue to win as long as we allow him to make us act less human than we should and can be. In his actions throughout his life, he repeatedly forsook his humanity - we should not imitate him as we decide how to handle the news of his death.


  1. Kathleen WodickaMay 2, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    I think of bin laden more as a mastermind and strong proponent of terrorism than as a symbol. Nothing too symbolic about the deaths of Americans -- those were real people.

  2. I agree with you, Father Hollowell.

  3. I like this post, Father. How does the Church respond to the notion that it seemed that most celebrations were in support of Democracy and American pride in our resistance to evil as opposed to the death of bin Laden?

  4. I've been pondering this today myself. My husband and I, our three children and 2 other families made a point of getting together yesterday and going to the Divine Mercy service at Saint Michael's church. For families with young children we spent a lot of time in mass, prayer and adoration yesterday. The beauty of yesterday remained fresh in my mind when I heard of bin Ladens death. I avoid watching or reading the news these days but the news of this murder could'nt be avoided. bin Ladin may have been a symbol of terrorism or evil. Yet one cannot deny that a murder was commited. Terrorism, evil and murder are all a part of the darkness in this world that are seen in the surroundings of Saint Faustina's image of the Divine Mercy. We can't allow the excitement of the media regarding this dark event allow us to turn our eyes from the center of the image which we adorored yesterday with such longing, Jesus I trust in you.

  5. JT - The rationale that celebrations were for democracy doesn't hold weight with me personally because there wouldn't have been democracy celebrations yesterday - none were previously scheduled - they all broke out because of the death of Bin Laden. Had some been scheduled already, I'd get it, but none of these were.

  6. "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that"
    — Martin Luther King Jr.

  7. Great stuff. I'm disappointed in some of my fellow citizens. I pray for peace... but two bullet holes in an unarmed man's head are not the calling card of peace. Neither is the celebration that has followed...

  8. Wow... I still can't help but feel people lose sight of what this animal was... a terrorist who commanded acts of murder of thousands of men, women, and children, including those of his own religious beliefs. He spewed hate, and riled up thousands of killers across various countries. One could say he was worse than Hitler. Now we are supposed to feel shameful that he might have been unarmed? How about the fact he reached for a weapon while resisting and had one of his many "wives" run towards the soldier threatening with an attack of sorts? I'm sorry for not praying and lamenting over this piece of trash, but after several years and nothing but more hate and evil from this man, nothing says "diplomacy" than two bullets in his head. The fact the US handled his body and burial in Muslim requirements speaks volumes of our intentions to maintain peace. Personally, I would have hung him from the back of a ship until he rotted away for all the world to see what this type of evil behavior will result in. Surely this man burns in hell, and I will certainly rejoice in the ridding of such a monster of hate and evil from this earth. I feel no shame for it either, even as a practicing and traditional Catholic. How soon we forget how these monsters on the other side of the fence treat us and kill innocent people they capture with beheadings and dragging bodies thru streets. The Catholic Church has had Crusades in history for hundreds of years, and I'll chalk this act of humanity as a modern version of one. Peace is one thing, but this guy never deserved a peaceful end to his life.

  9. Flower - that quote is not actually from Dr. King. It's a phony quote that has been spread around social networking sights since the announcement of bin Laden's death. Either way, it's a great quote from whoever came up with it!

    Anon - I think this is more about the rejoicing in bin Laden's death and less about the killing. It's just sad that people are so celebratory. Do we not remember seeing video of Afghans after the 9/11 attacks? Some of the people were celebrating in much the same way and we thought it was so disgraceful. I'm not trying to draw comparisons between the thousands of innocent lives lost in 9/11 and the killing of a known terrorist, but the reactions of both were in opposition of the loving faith you claim to follow. In addition, I do not believe that the Church defends the Crusades, but rather chalk them up to ignorance and politically corrupt papacy. Finally, let's look at the true reason that the military "buried bin Laden at sea". It was not actually to adhere to Muslim tradition. That is merely a cover for the fact that they didn't want his grave to become a shrine or place of any sort of worship.

    Hate breeds hate, no matter who you are and whom you hate.

  10. Kristin, yep, I did just get it from an email, and didn't think to verify it because...well, didn't think anyone would lie about MLK.

    Anyway, here is the actual quote from a MLK site:

    Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies
    hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction
    of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of

    Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength To Love, 1963.

    Thanks for pointing out the error :) I kinda like the real thing better.

  11. I bet none of you would be so "insightful" and poetic and merciful if one of your own family members had been killed by one of his acts of terror.

  12. Flower - the real quote is better! Glad you shared both of those :)

    Anon - I guess that is why it is good to have people with different perspectives and life experiences. It keeps us all in check. Plus, I would guess that a small percentage of the people celebrating were personally affected by his acts of terror. Most of the people I saw on the news who had been personally affected were tearful because of the raw emotions the news of his death brought back to life. They were not chanting USA or lighting off fireworks, but rather mourning, again, the loss of their loved ones.

  13. @Anon 5:15 -
    As a fellow practising and Traditional Catholic, I'm only going to respond to two bits of your post: first, "but this guy never deserved a peaceful end to his life." Neither do we. We deserve pain and Hell for our sins. Do you believe that God ought to give you mercy, but not those you hate? Matthew 18:22 would be good reading.

    Second, "Surely this man burns in hell, and I will certainly rejoice in the ridding of such a monster of hate and evil from this earth." If you rejoice that this man is in Hell, then you rejoice in a victory of Satan. There is no virtue in that.

    "In addition, I do not believe that the Church defends the Crusades, but rather chalk them up to ignorance and politically corrupt papacy."

    You would be wrong, at least when talking about the Crusades as a whole. In fact, the first Pope to call for a crusade was Blessed Pope Urban II. That's right, he's beatified. The Crusades were (initially, at least) a reaction to the killing of Christian pilgrims and the desecration of the Holy Sepulchre (you can draw your own parallels with the current situation). Not to mention that the Islamic world was, once again, violently spreading outward into Christendom. Turkish (read: Islamic) forces had reduced the Byzantine Empire to half it's former territory by 1071. The First Crusade didn't start until 1096.


    I somehow doubt this will end the attempts of some to sow hate and violence. Instead, we may have just made a martyr.

  14. I bet none of you would be so "insightful" and poetic and merciful if one of your own family members had been killed by one of his acts of terror.

    Making an issue personal doesn't prove anything. It's what I'd call a fallacious appeal to instinct or emotion. There is a good reason why relatives of defendents or prosecution's witnesses are generally not allowed to sit on juries--they are too personally invested and cannot properly weigh evidence objectively. So, yes a victim of 9/11 would have a difficult time being "insightful and poetic"--that is because he would likely be primarily motivated by emotion. Well, emotions are neither right or wrong, they just are; it is valid to have emotions and they deserve sympathy, but because they are ephemeral, constantly in flux, and sometimes downright fickle, they are not reliable guides to Truth.

    God bless,

    Scott W.

  15. Well call me a sinner then who rejoices in a victory for Satan (really? spare me!).... but I'm glad this pile of trash is dead.

  16. The Catholic Church has a lot to say on Mercy, and I think it is fitting that we heard of Bin Laden's death on Divine Mercy Sunday. We don't know where he ended up, and that is the whole point.

    I cried my eyes out on 9/11 and would have registered for the army that day if I could have. I didn't lose any family, but it felt like we ALL lost family (and indeed we did if we are all the Body of Christ). Nonetheless, I think we dehumanize ourselves as soon as we pass judgement on this man. Can we judge and condemn his actions - of course! We just can't say it is a good thing he's dead and in hell, because it might not be good that he's dead and we don't know if he is in Hell. Imagine for a minute that Bin Laden publicly apologized for his crimes and converted to the Church - what shockwaves would that have sent through the world? Far-fetched? Sure. But it sounds no more outrageous to us than the notion of the conversion of Saul of Taursus would have sounded to the early Christians - and he turned out to redeem himself in a big way.

    In the past I've prayed Masses for Judas, Marilyn Manson, and lots of other people as well. I'll pray a Mass for the repose of the soul of Bin Laden some day as well. Did he deserve death - yes, but then again, in the eyes of God, we all DESERVE death, but His Mercy extended to us through His Son spares us from such a fate.

    I finish with a great quote from the great Catholic J.R.R. Tolkien from his Lord of the Rings Trilogy:

    "Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends."