Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bin Laden's Death - The Appropriate Response

Anyone who is reading this knows that there have been a plethora of reactions to the shooting of Osama Bin Laden - even amongst Catholics.  In fact, a question was posed asking if a faithful Catholic could rejoice in the death of Bin Laden, since he was inarguably responsible for so much death and mayhem 10 years ago.

Let's look at Ezekiel 33:11, that says, "as surely as I live, declares the sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked but rather that they turn from their ways and live".  That settles the matter now, doesn't it?

While I rejoice that he can cause no more harm and that Al Qaeda has been stymied a bit, I do not rejoice at his death.


  1. Death is an a-moral action, i.e. the act and fact of dying are morally neutral. Killing may be moral or immoral depending on circumstance. The Church has always supported the (at least theoretical) use of the death penalty as a matter of self defense. Lately she has shied away from this due to the efficacy of modern prisons. That said, it is at least doubtful that prison would work for bin Laden and doubtful that it would in the slightest lead to our self defense. Therefore... his killing was a moral act of self defense of this country (and "infidels" the world over). One may justly rejoice in a moral deed. This is somewhat dicey, however, because of the temptation to rejoice in his suffering, to rejoice in spite of (or, much worse, because of) his (probable) unrepentant death.

    I rejoice that he is dead. His execution was clearly justified. I grieve over the damnation of any soul, but can make no assumptions one way or the other about him, not knowing what happened in his mind at the last.

  2. Forgot something... The quote of Ezekiel is absolutely correct - I certainly agree. However, since it is God Himself who is speaking, when he refers to the "wicked", he is referring to those who are damned. I cannot make that assumption about anybody, even bin Laden. So... The death alone (regardless of circumstances) of the damned is a pitiable thing, worthy of every sorrow we can muster as the loss of a soul is the worse possible loss. Since I cannot make that assumption about bin Laden, that does not preclude rejoicing in his death. So... Only if we could (presumptuously) say that bin Laden's death was that of one-who-is-damned would rejoicing in it be forbidden - the issue is not quite so easily settled.

  3. Anonymous, you're grasping at ridiculous straws. If you can't make an assumption one way, you can't make it the other way, either - as though that would give carte-blanche permission for reveling in someone's death, which it doesn't. There is no justification for gloating and chortling about the death of any person. But if you insist on "chapter and verse", how about Ez 18:32?

  4. Anonymous, your first two comments survived the Blogger crash. Neither my reply nor your third comment did. I did point to Ezekiel 18:32 to illustrate that God rejoices in the death of no one. My main point was to say that 1:55 post is a bit of stretch, to say that uncertainty about bin Laden's fate somehow permits rejoicing. If anything, it precludes it.



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