Photo: Felix Carroll
By Fr. Andy Davy, MIC (May 4, 2011)
In light of the recent news of the death of Osama bin Laden, I think it would be worthwhile speaking about the appropriate Catholic response to such a death.
I was saddened to hear that the front page headline of the New York Daily News stated: "ROT IN HELL" when referring to Osama bin Laden. It is true that this man committed grave atrocities against his fellow men, and that in matters of war and counterterrorism it is sometimes necessary to kill an enemy in order to save lives and to promote the common welfare of all peoples. But we should never wish anyone to "Rot in Hell" or to rejoice in that man's death. Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., in an official statement from the Vatican, stated:
Osama bin Laden, as we all know, bore the most serious responsibility for spreading divisions and hatred among populations, causing the deaths of innumerable people, and manipulating religions for this purpose.
In the face of a man's death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred.
It is significant to note that Osama's death occurred on Divine Mercy Sunday. It is in the message of Divine Mercy that our Lord said to St. Faustina "the greater the sinner, the greater the right that he has to My mercy" (Diary of St. Faustina, 723). We are now given a perfect test to see if we are really living the message of The Divine Mercy. Will we commend even a man as hated as Osama bin Laden to the mercy of God and pray for his soul? Mercy is the only way true peace can reign.
Let us pray that the event of Osama bin Laden's death might not be a moment to satisfy the thirst for revenge, but rather an occasion for all people to promote the "growth of peace and not of hatred."
As Jesus told St. Faustina, "Mankind will not have peace, until it turns with trust to My mercy" (Diary, 300).
Father Andy Davy, MIC, serves at St. Mary's Parish in Plano, Illinois.