Mass said for Osama Bin Laden?

The Canonical Defender himself, Dr. Ed Peters, has an interesting post on him interesting blog, In the Light of the Law.  My emphases.

A request for Mass to be celebrated for the repose of Osama Bin Laden’s soul that was printed in a Florida parish bulletin has irritated a number of people. Let’s try to sort it out.

First, it is obvious to the point of palpable that Catholics are free to pray for anyone, living or dead, and that such prayers are exercises in charity. CCC 958, 1032. Therefore, it is wrong to discourage others from praying for any human being.*

Second, a priest is free to offer Mass for anyone, living or dead. Canon 901, CCC 1371. The Pio-Benedictine restrictions against offering public Masses for certain persons (e.g., excommunicates per c. 2262) no longer bind. The faithful may now offer stipends for such Masses and priests may accept such stipends. Canons 945-946. A non-Catholic’s (let alone a non-baptized person’s) name should not, however, be proclaimed during the Eucharistic prayer. Ecumenical Directory (1993) n. 121.

These things being understood, however, it is, I suggest, a bit facile to conclude that Osama Bin Laden’s (or Hitler’s, or Stalin’s, or some other mass murders’) name should be printed in the parish bulletin as the object of a Mass intention.

Publishing the name of the person(s) for whom Mass is being offered is not required for the liceity, validity, or efficacy of either the stipend or the Mass. A pastor is free, therefore, to decline such publication according to his prudent judgment, and a bishop is free to issue wider particular directives in such matters if he deems it useful. Canons 381, 392, and 519. If the parochial printing of certain names as the objects of Mass intentions becomes a distraction to the faith community, instead of its serving as teaching moment, diocesan bishops might have to step in.

* I think it would offend pious ears to pray for canonized Saints and for those proclaimed Blessed (excepting those merely named Servant of God or even Venerable), but that might just be me. +++ [Not just you.]

Has anyone else seen Masses for the repose of the soul of Osama bin Laden?

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83 Responses to Mass said for Osama Bin Laden?

  1. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    In Au Revoir les Enfants, Louis Malle’s film, le Pere Jean reminds his audience, saying ” Let us pray for the victims, but also for the executioners.”

  2. DavidJ says:

    I’ve only seen what’s been published online. That being said, I find it a true test of charity to pray for someone who’s done things so heinous, but a very welcome test. I think the people who are outraged are having a very natural reaction, but that’s what we as Christians are called to move beyond with the help of God.

  3. Choirmaster says:

    If we must pray even for our enemies then I can see the value of such an intention.

    It would, indeed, be a teaching moment, to pray for someone so hated.

    But “pastoral” considerations may judge it imprudent to publish that name in a parish bulletin, especially considering that many of the faithful may believe that the Mass intention is a commemoration rather than a petition for mercy. Good catechesis would, as in so many other areas, do much to prevent such a misconception.

  4. ContraMundum says:

    I think it is not prudent to make such a posting in the bulletin; it makes the bulletin a temptation to uncharitable thoughts. Is it possible to have Mass said for a soul known only to the priest and the person making the request — say, “for a certain soul in need”?

    Generally speaking, I wonder about how honest it may be to pray for those whom we are convinced (rightly or wrongly) have definitely rejected Help. Perhaps it would be best to pray more generically “for those most in need of Thy mercy”.

    That said, I am a convert, and almost none of my family is Catholic, yet I have requested Masses for the repose of their souls. I have been meaning to (and this is another reminder that I should actually do it) request a Mass for the repose of the soul of a childhood friend, a Methodist who committed suicide in the face of a chronic, incurable illness.

  5. Pelicanus says:

    What effect does Universae Ecclesia have on all this? Are we to follow the Pio-Benedictine Code or not?

  6. wlinden says:

    Not to mention Jimmy Carter, who when a teacher in his Washington Baptist church called for prayers for the embassy hostages, reminded them to pray for the captors as well.

    “Pray for your enemies” is pretty explicit. Nobody said it would be easy.

  7. Centristian says:

    “What effect does Universae Ecclesia have on all this?”

    If Al Qaeda’s leadership want a Mass said for the repose of Bin Laden’s soul in the Extraordinary Form as opposed to the Ordinary Form, they are free to approach their parish priest (as long as it can be determined that they represent a stable group). If their pastor cannot accomodate their desire, they may then approach their local bishop for satisfaction, and if their bishop presents obstacles, they may then appeal to Ecclesia Dei…who will subsequently inform the CIA of their whereabouts .

  8. Choirmaster says:

    Pelicanus: My understanding is that UE establishes only those things found in the liturgical books, thus, not matters of law. So, if the Pio-Benedictine prohibition is found in the 1962 Missal then, yes, UA establishes that they must be followed when using those books. If not, then no.

  9. Choirmaster says:

    Centristan: Since the PCED moves at the speed of smell, the CIA can expect any intelligence gathered from them to be stale. Also, I hope you meant that comment humorously, because it sent me into a fit of laughter!

  10. bmccoy says:

    @Chris Garton-Zavesky That line stood out for me too. Pere Jean was of strong moral character and embraced God’s message of love and humility as fully as he could, even to the point of sacrificing his own life.

  11. Frank H says:

    I’m amazed the Mass request could be fulfilled so quickly! At our parish it usually takes 4 to 5 months to get on the schedule!

  12. tealady24 says:

    I have not seen this request anywhere either. It is a head-turner isn’t it, to pray for our enemies? Our true, REAL Catholic faith, requires us to do just that. For myself, living on the outskirts of NYC, having lived in Staten Island, worked in downtown Manhattan, and grown up in a stone’s throw to the city, it is difficult to think on.
    When did Jesus say this would be a breeze?

  13. Henry Belton says:

    I’m thinking that the bulletin note may have had some political element to it. Or the pastor was hoping for controversy (he may call it dialogue). It shouldn’t have been printed there – lots of folks probably read the bulletin in the pew and sat at mass angered and distracted.

    For those still celebrating and refusing to pray for such an intention though, recall that only one saint was personally canonized by Jesus. And that person presumably was at least a confessed criminal with a capital crime in his past; his victims’ families may also have celebrated at his death.

  14. Alan Aversa says:

    I’ve heard about them but don’t know if his name is explicitly mentioned during the Eucharistic Prayer.

  15. Alan Aversa says:

    We must love and pray for our enemies but we should not love nor pray for Satan, right?

  16. Nathan says:

    There seems to be, in this case, a fairly wide gap between what is licit and what is prudent.

    In Christ,

  17. DavidJ says:

    Alan, there’s a world of difference between praying for a fallen angel and a human.

  18. Jason Keener says:

    I’m sure it would seem a bit odd to see Bin Laden’s name in your local parish bulletin, but I don’t think it is terribly offensive. If we are to act charitably towards our enemies and pray for them, we should be able to tolerate seeing an enemy’s name printed in the parish bulletin. The mercy that we measure out to others is what will be measured out to us. If anything, Bin Laden’s name being printed in the bulletin reminds us of our Christian duty to love even those people who are truly detestable.

  19. Adam Michael says:

    While we know of the existence of hell and that it is unfortunately occupied by those who reject God through mortal sin, we cannot judge any particular individual as being in hell and, thus, outside the scope of God’s mercy (given the unknown graces that God may give someone at the hour of death). However, it is equally true that we have a duty to avoid scandal by acting responsibly and decently.

    Praying for the souls and/or offering the Mass for those who manifested no repentance scandalizes the faithful by appearing to indicate that man’s unrepented sins normally have no bearing on his eternal destiny, and thus the way to salvation is broad as opposed to narrow and that grace often ultimately triumphs over one’s previously sinful life. While miracles of conversion do happen, they are extraordinary. Praying equally for the souls of the righteous and notorious sinners risks turning an extraordinary miracle of grace into the norm and distorts the normal economy of salvation, which maintains that “today is the day of salvation,” “the wages of sin is death,” and “the tree that bears forth bad fruit will be cut down and cast into the fire.”

    While the Pio-Benedictine Code has been juridically superseded, it’s helpful to consider the rationale behind its laws and how these reflect the traditional Catholic, “sensus fidelium,” which remains perennially valid. I think this sense of the faithful precludes (on the basis of decency and the avoiding of scandal, if not strict law) praying for and/or offering the Mass for notorious sinners.

  20. JKnott says:

    “Has anyone else seen Masses for the repose of the soul of Osama bin Laden?”
    No, but it brings up a question about the purpose of a Mass offering. It has been the custom to see Masses for the living and for the dead – repose of the soul. The latter was usually indicted in the bulletin with a + or RIP. Recently in some bulletins, the named are all listed as “in memory of… “.
    That rephrasing seems to take the focus off of the application of Christ’s sacrifice and intercession for the soul and on to a public “commemoration” of the person by the congregation. Viewed in this light, as a misunderstanding the purpose of the Mass offfering, it would seem probable that many might be upset to see…..”In memory of Osama Bin Laden.” Looking for applause is very different than begging for mercy.

  21. Speravi says:

    No, not Masses. However, I have heard his soul prayed for in the LOH during open-mic-intercessions. It is bit jarring. It is a way for people to exercise charity and, in doing so, to combat their own tendencies to harden their hearts and abandon hope in regards to such a person. Nonetheless, I have to say that something does not seem very fitting about incorporating a notorious infidel (at least from all appearances) into the public prayer of the Church. If there is any chance that he could be saved, why not pray for him? Yet, I am inclined to agree that the intention is best not be publicized.

  22. dans0622 says:

    The 1917 Code allowed a Mass to be said for anyone, living or dead, just as the 1983 Code does. The 1917 Code, however, said the excommunicated should not have a Mass offered publicly. Bin Laden, obviously, was never excommunicated and could never have been excommunicated. So, even if the 1917 Code was in force today, a Mass could be publicly offered for him.

  23. Rich says:

    The bulletin and the idea of saying a Mass for someone are being used to make a political statement.

  24. New Sister says:

    I think Teresa de Avila said prayers for Judas… I never actually read that myself/only heard of her doing so.
    I know someone personally (an aetheist) who was permitted a vision of hell. The vision [and this man had been blind for decades at this point] disturbed him for months, to his very depths. I recall his account of hell’s torments when I can’t find it within myself pray for someone. One thing in particular that he said, “… it is unspeakably terrible and frightening – with FIRE – so horrible you wouldn’t want the worst person who ever lived on the face of the earth to go there.”

  25. jflare says:

    I’m not so sure that it’s wise to offer MASS for him–I thought I’d read on PewSitter that someone intended to offer a petition for hum DURING Mass–but if you’re going to do it, I think it SHOULD be published. For one thing, I don’t care much for any hint of a clandestine approach. For another, it strikes me as one of the better “teachable moments” I’ve come across in recent years.
    If it’s creating that much controversy, I should think the “pastoral” approach might be for the pastor to include a few comments in his bulletin notes regarding appropriate ways of responding to the death or actions of a notorious person.

    Seems to me that, if anything, much of the foreign policy foibles that we have these days might begin to be solved if we’d be much more vigorous about teaching and preaching the whole of our faith, including the hard parts.

    I admit there’s a risk of becoming blase about it, but..well, if you’re blase about it..at least you KNOW about it to begin with. Since all too many people DON’T seem to know their faith’s teachings, seems to me that this is a step in the right direction.

  26. jflare says:

    “The bulletin and the idea of saying a Mass for someone are being used to make a political statement.”

    In a sense, yes, but I would point out to you, Rich, and to everyone, that we SHOULD be much more interested in taking our faith into the public square and in politics in general. Part of our difficulty these days is that we haven’t done so. We’ve very nearly literally tried to keep our faith from creating too many problems in public life.

    That’s a good part of why we’re not seeing moral expectations in this nation. We’ve allowed ourselves to be silenced.

  27. dans0622 says:

    Rich: A political statement saying what, exactly?

  28. devthakur says:

    Dr. Peters refers to the printing of the name in the bulletin as a distraction vs “instead of its serving as teaching moment.”

    In this case, more than in any I have ever heard of, it was a teaching moment.

    Also, this is the perfect repudiation of what bin Laden did. “You preach hate and violence, you preach the death of non-Muslims, you preach tyranny, and you kill, but we preach love and peace, we preach sacrifice, we preach Jesus Christ crucified, and we will even pray for you though you hated us.”

  29. Seumas says:

    Since beatification is not an infallible declaration of the Church, unlike canonization, I would suggest that it is perfectly appropriate to continue to pray for the Blessed. Although it is likely that they are among the Saints, we still don’t know with absolute certainty, and people should not be denied prayers based on likelihood alone, but only when we are infallibly certain they are no longer in need of prayers. How would you like to be stuck in purgatory and no one is praying for you or offering penances and Masses because they assume you are already in heaven?

    As to the Mass intention; the primary purpose of Mass offerings is usually the speedy release from purgatory and the lightening of the sufferings in purgatory. But the graces from Mass can also bring God’s mercy to those who seemed to die as unrepentant sinners. As St. Faustina said, the Lord often appears to such people at the hour of death and gives them the opportunity to repent and turn to Him. Masses and prayers can give such people the grace to accept this mercy.

    Publishing such a thing in the bulletin may offend some people. Much of what Jesus taught offended people too, so much so that they killed Him. But He was teaching us the truth, and we are supposed to be teaching His Gospel in season and out. We are bound to offend people in the process. But if we could sum up the Gospel in a word, that word would be “MERCY.” And who needs mercy more the the Bin Ladens of the world?

    If people are offended by the publication of this Mass intention, then the priest should use it as an opportunity to teach people the meaning of God’s mercy, and that we are called to emulate that mercy, to love our enemies and forgive sins. If we do not, then neither will we be shown mercy or forgiven our sins. “… and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

    That Mass offered for Bin Laden is a source of infinite merit and grace, and may well have brought him to salvation (and don’t forget that time doesn’t exist in eternity, so God’s grace can be applied “backwards” to what is to us the past, but to Him is part of one eternal present). And if that is the case, it is a great cause for joy. Grudges, vengeance, wishing someone to hell, etc., have no place in the Christian heart. There is rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents and turns to God, and we should be rejoicing with them.

  30. amenamen says:

    I had thought that there used to be a prohibition against offering public Masses for non-Catholics, as well as for those who were excommunicated. But I am grateful to Dr. Peters for clarifying what canon law said in 1917 and in 1983. I see that it is still forbidden to mention their names during the Eucharistic Prayer.

    These thoughts occur to me:

    * We should pray for our enemies, as Jesus commanded us. “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.”
    * This sort of prayer is not optional.
    * We should not despair of anyone’s salvation, even if we think it is unlikely.
    * Deathbed conversions are possible, although extraordinary and miraculous.
    * Osama bin Laden died, of all the days in our Catholic calendar, on Divine Mercy Sunday.
    * Osama bin Laden died on the day that Pope John Paul II was beatified.
    * On the altar of the cross, Jesus prayed for those who crucified him, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
    * Jesus prayed for “them.” He knew their names, but he did not identify “them” (or us) by name.
    * Jesus told the Good Thief, “Amen, I tell you, this day you shall be with me in paradise.”
    * The Good Thief had publicly expressed repentance, and acknowledged the justice of his punishment, rebuking the Bad Thief. He publicly expressed his faith in Jesus before he died: “Jesus, remember me when you enter into your kingdom.”
    * Depending on your translation, the Good Thief was a criminal, an insurrectionist, or a revolutionary. The Good Terrorist?
    * Although the little cross symbol [ + ] next to a Mass intention is familiar to Catholics as “shorthand” to indicate that the Mass is for the deceased, it is – after all – a uniquely “Christian” symbol. It seems particularly ironic to place a cross next to the name of a Moslem. Many Moslems and Jews might be offended by having a cross next to their names.
    * However, it should not necessarily bother us if non-Christians are offended by our use of the cross in our own liturgy or in our own publications.
    * A little cross before someone’s name could also mean that he is a bishop.
    * Unfortunately, many people see funeral Masses as “canonizations” nowadays.
    * Unfortunately, many people see Masses for the dead as “honoring” the deceased, rather than as praying for the repose of their souls. This is especially true in the case of politicians and other people who were famous.
    * Denial of a public funeral Mass, as in the case of the excommunicated, does not deny the possibility of salvation.
    * No one should be surprised that there would be an emotional “reaction” to seeing Osama bin Laden’s name listed in their parish bulletin. That was not hard to see coming.
    * Is there any other parish that can schedule Mass intentions so quickly?

  31. ContraMundum says:

    Did the same parish pray for bin Laden’s conversion while he was still alive? Publicly and by name, that is?

    Frankly, I am suspicious that this is grandstanding, whether political or in terms of being “holier than thou”, if Masses there were no public prayers beforehand for his conversion.

  32. Saint Gregory the Great said that we pray the those who have died, IF they were in communion with us on earth.

    The reason for this is that prayers for the dead are for the “faithful departed” who are in Purgatory.

    A million Masses, and a trillion Rosaries cannot delivery one soul from the fires of Hell.

    Praying for our enemies is noble – but the time for regeneration and justification is in this life, not the next. Once they pass from this life, their conversion cannot be attained. This is the universal teaching of the Holy Catholic Church.

    The Church publicly prays for the “souls of the faithful departed” {fidelium animae} not the souls of the damned.

    Saint Paul did not offer the Holy Mass for the repose of the soul of Antiochus IV or Caligula. This is also why it would be sacrilegious to have a Holy Mass said for the repose of the soul of Judas Iscariot.

    Let us pray for one another that we persevere in grace and do fall into the fires of Hell. Our Lady of Grace, pray for us.

    ad Jesum per Mariam,
    Taylor Marshall

    Fidelium animae per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace.

  33. James Joseph says:

    I have not heard of any other intentions for the the repose of Bin-Laden brought to the meeting point between Heaven and Earth. This makes me think of two things.

    1. Fr. Gordon McRae, of the Hermitage of Our Lady of the Imprisoned, has written quite well on the need for Americans to express mercy in the land of justice.

    2. If the tabernacle is seperated from the altar does this rupture our understanding of the Mars Tsaba?

    *Yes, Fr. Zzzz. I just read a your essay: http://www.wandererforum.org/forumfocus/Zuhlsdorf01.html

  34. benedetta says:

    I guess that sometimes in parish setting it can seem jarring to have a Mass intention announced for a public figure when it seems quite likely that the person is not known to anyone directly in the parish but that through the media people are aware of this particular death. Possibly a parishioner could have been directly affected by bin Laden’s actions, for instance if the parishioner might be related to a soldier or someone deceased in 9/11, and have a direct reason beyond reading the news and offering personal prayers for wanting to have a public Mass announced and said. It could be a very good thing in addition to the points that others here raise for other reasons as well, to remind of the possibility for healing through praying for those who hurt us, for being acquainted more trustingly in the mercy of God, for realizing that though someone can do heinous public acts that ultimately their salvation is in the hands of God and not for us to speculate about.

    As a general matter it seems that fewer and fewer young people have a sense of responsibility about praying for those who have died, arranging for Masses to be said, the significance of this for many reasons. Maybe the pastor there at this parish in West Palm could use it as a teaching opportunity as others have said as this may not have been explained or modeled for younger generations.

  35. Montenegro says:

    That is just tacky.

  36. ipadre says:

    “If not for the grace of God”! We are all so graced who have the light of the Catholic Faith. Jesus made it clear enough who we should pray for. It does not matter if 1 or 100,000 parish bulletins listed a Mass for Bin Laden or any other despised wretch. I have said in many homilies, in many Masses that we should pray for Bin and every other poor deceived soul. No one dare questioned me about it either. The Gospel is very clear, Jesus died so that none would be lost. Yes, we know that some will be, but that is not our place to decide. If He had chosen to die for only the perfect, I sure as h*** would not be among them, nor would many of those bit****g and moaning in the pews and in the newspapers! The Extraordinary Form is very important, but let us not forget what the Holy Sacrifice is all about – saving souls!

  37. ContraMundum says:

    @Taylor Marshall:

    Yes: We should not pray for the souls of those who have been identified by the Church as being definitively damned.

    The problem, of course, is that we do not know who has been damned. For what we know, Pope Pius XII is burning in Hell right now. If so, our prayers cannot change that fact. Then again, maybe he is not in Hell; maybe he is in Purgatory, where he would need our prayers, or Heaven, where he would not.

    I don’t think it is a good prayer to pray for something you are convinced is contrary to fact. For example, there is good reason to believe that President Kennedy died of his injuries from the assassination attempt in Dallas. Anyone who really believes that he died should probably not pray for his recovery from those wounds, because that’s being dishonest with God. On the other hand, for a time most people did not know how serious the injuries were (esp. those hearing rumors over the radio), and they would have been acting properly to pray for his recovery. Were those prayers wasted? Are any good prayers truly WASTED?

    Congresswoman Giffords was reported dead. Would it have been foolish, even evil, for a Catholic to have said, “I have heard that Gabrielle Giffords is dead, but I do not know it to be true, and I will continue to pray for her until I know for certain that she is dead”?

    The Church does not teach that Kennedy died from his wounds. Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium are all silent on the life of JFK, let alone his death, so each of us has the freedom to believe that JFK was reported dead so that America would not have to deal with a seriously handicapped president. Under these circumstances, it should be just as possible to request a Mass for the healing of JFK as for the repose of the soul of bin Laden. You may think both exercises are futile and foolish, but, frankly, that is no more than your opinion.

  38. s i says:

    Frank H – ditto here.

    Are we not supposed to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us? I found myself awoken early that morning with a strong need to say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy – no reason why, just felt I had to do it. Later on that day, I learned of his demise.

    Praying for someone like OBL is extremely difficult, but the Mercy of God is beyond our understanding right now. Printing the intention for him confirms what we are expected to do. If people are truly bothered by that, they need some personal reflection, and ask God to help them understand what He wants of us.

  39. Rich says:

    @jflare
    Requesting that a Mass be said for Osama Bin Laden in a parish bulletin would be a bad example of taking our faith to a public square, as it raises more questions than it does offer an example of what we believe as Catholics. Using the “Fr. Joe’s Corner” or whatever section of the bulletin in order to explain as Fr. Z. does why we pray for dead and may pray for anyone would be a better example.

    @dans0622
    Not so much a “political” statement like Republicans vs. Democrats or conservative vs. liberal. A pastor knows that printing such a request is going to cause a reaction among the faithful. Part of teaching involves breaking through the affective barriers of those being taught, so if a pastor stokes up people’s feelings by allowing such a thing to be printed, and responds with a likely “Well why CAN’T we offer a Mass for him?” then people are more likely just going to get ticked off than be taught, thus making the bulletin issue more of a statement than would be an innocent “Let us pray for his soul.”

  40. St. Rafael says:

    Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus.

    Osama BinLaden died outside the Catholic Church as a evil mass murdering Muslim terrorist. Just like Judas, Stalin, Mao, and Hitler are in hell, Osama Bin Laden is in hell.

    I know the standard disclaimer is that the Catholic Church cannot make a dogmatic statement or defintion who is in hell, but as a private individlual and a Catholic, I can say many, many people are in hell and Osama Bin Laden is in hell.

    I wished he had turned to Christ before his death repented and converted, but he didn’t. So God’s justice is now carried out in his damnation.

    When the corrupt and evil pope, Pope Alexander VI died, the priests of St. peter’s Basilica refused to accept his body for burial until they were forced to. His successor Pope Pius III, forbade the saying of a Mass for the repose of Rodrigo Borgia’s soul, saying, “It is blasphemous to pray for the damned.”

  41. theophilus says:

    St. Rafael,

    “Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus” does not allow you to make a definitive judgement on who will be saved. Secondly, invincible ignorance by way of pure negation will not condemn you.

    According to your mantra, St. Dismas would be in hell. He had zero knowledge of the Church.

    Perhaps it is more prudent to not put human limits on the infinite mercy of God.

    When you point an accusing finger, there are three others pointed back at you for not having evangelized the accused.

  42. muckemdanno says:

    Why is anyone scandalized about this?

    The New Mass itself says “…it will be shed for you and for ALL…” every day, everywhere for the last 50 years. Clearly, the rule against praying publicly for non-Catholics is no more. How dare you people complain!

    “Take the beam out of your own eye” before you condemn others.

  43. muckemdanno says:

    Regarding the different rules for those in so-called “full communion”, “partial communion”, and who are “not at all in communion” with the Church, how are we to know who is a non-Catholic, a partial Catholic, and a full fledged Catholic so that we can apply the appropriate rule? Is there a list somewhere that makes it clear?

  44. ContraMundum says:

    Is there a list somewhere that makes it clear?

    Yes, but it is guarded by a platoon of albino assassins.

  45. jflare says:

    @Rich
    I thought that was more or less the idea I tried to suggest with my first comment?
    For what it’s worth, I don’t think the suggestion of offering a Mass for bin Laden necessarily intended to make a political statement. Nor would the reaction if the priest declined. As we’ve both commented, there is a degree of prudence involved.

    @muckemdanno
    The New Mass itself says “…it will be shed for you and for ALL…”
    I wonder if I understand your meaning correctly? I once read a book that went on and on and on and on and on about this very issue..and why the author felt that it rendered the Mass invalid!
    Are you trying to make a sarcastic remark about the value of the Mass and/or the catechesis connected with it? Or are you trying to say something else?

  46. St. Rafael says:

    Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus is a defined dogma of the Church. No one knows how large in scope invincible ignorance really is. It is pretty clear that we live in a world where information is widely available in a way never before in history. Technology has made the transmission of information accessible to the whole world. For this reason, invincible ignorance is not as broad as many believe it to be.

    Osama Bin Laden cannot be saved by invincible ignorance. He was a learned man who was educated and had tremendous knowledge of religion. He knew about the Catholic Church. In his life, he learned that the Church claimed it was the one true church and religion. That salvation only comes through Jesus Christ. Even putting aside the fact of Bin Laden’s awareness of Catholicism, there is the fact that a person in invincible ignorance, must also live his life according to the moral and natual law. Bin Laden was an evil man who died in rebellion to the moral law.

    The Catholic Church came into existence on the day of the death of St. Dismas. The Catholic Church was born when the blood and water poured out from the side of Jesus when he was pierced.
    St. Dismas was directly saved by Jesus Christ while both were on the cross. Jesus justified and saved Dismas in that special act of mercy and historical event. God decided to act on the spot in a unique way and special case.

  47. ipadre says:

    @ St. Rafael – You throw so many people into hell. I’m happy to hear you have the gift of infallibility!

  48. Matariel says:

    I agree with Rafael. This seems to discard Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. Besides, why was the Pio-Benedictine rule thrown out? Certainly it was not wrong to have it. What could possibly be a legitimate reason for throwing it out? That and the Communion-for-some-deathbed-Protestants rule in the new Canon Law greatly irks me— though the latter is worse, because it is sacriligious. You can’t give the Body of Christ (the Eucharist) to someone who is outside of the Body of Christ (the Church).

  49. theophilus says:

    St Rafael,

    ‘Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus’ is an inclusive statement. NOT an exclusive statement.
    A subtle but important difference.

    Secondly, nobody said Osama can be “saved” by invincible ignorance. A person cannot be “condemned” for it.
    A subtle but important difference.

    You said of St Dismas: “God decided to act on the spot in a unique way and special case.”
    Yes, and He will continue to act in unique and special ways with His infinite mercy.

    “…I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy; and I will shew mercy to whom I will shew mercy. ”
    Rom 9:15

  50. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Taylor said:

    “Saint Paul did not offer the Holy Mass for the repose of the soul of Antiochus IV or Caligula. This is also why it would be sacrilegious to have a Holy Mass said for the repose of the soul of Judas Iscariot.”

    I really don’t see how you can know such a thing–i.e., what intentions St. Paul had–or did not have–when he offered the Holy Mass.

  51. bookworm says:

    I have two stories to share about unusual Mass intentions:

    About 15 years ago, when I was still working for a Catholic newspaper, I got a tip concerning an area parish that had recently had a Mass offered, and announced in the bulletin, for “Elvis Aron Presley, dec(eased).” I called the pastor to get “the rest of the story” and found out that he had been given a rather large supply of Mass stipends by a former parishioner (who had retired and moved to Florida) for the express purpose of having Masses offered for various deceased public figures — some Catholic, some not — whom the donor admired. I don’t recall all the names on the donor’s list anymore but I do remember that it included Wladizu Valentino Liberace (that’s how I found out what his full real name was!), John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, and Erma Bombeck. All these Masses were also announced in the bulletin. I wrote a story in which the pastor explained that Church law allowed Masses to be offered for any person, living or deceased, Catholic or non-Catholic, along with his conviction that the “celebrity” Mass intentions were a good reminder of the need to pray for all people.

    Around the same time, a relative of a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate who was Catholic and very pro-life sent out hundreds of Mass requests to parishes around Illinois, with stipends enclosed, asking for Masses to be said for (name of candidate) . She also requested that these Masses be offered prior to a contested primary election and that a copy of the parish bulletin with the ANNOUNCED intention be sent back to her (the relative) afterward! This caused some concern among priests who weren’t sure if they could legitimately accept such a request without appearing to be electioneering for the candidate. The verdict from the vicar general of the diocese I lived in at the time was that priests were NOT obligated to accept the Mass requests, and if they did, they were NOT obligated to announce the intention in the bulletin, schedule the Mass prior to the election, or send the donor a copy of the bulletin afterward (a thank you note was sufficient).

    Personally, I would suggest that a Mass for Bin Laden be listed simply as a “special intention” or if it must be announced, be sure to schedule a Mass the following day or week for the U.S. military servicemen who have died fighting against him.

  52. bookworm says:

    By the way, the political candidate who was the subject of the Mass requests didn’t even come close to winning the primary (unfortunately).

  53. Imrahil says:

    St. Rafael, you are not knowing what you’re saying. Let me put it just that short that the Church has, and has officially, taught that she doesn’t teach what Fr. Feeney had been teaching.

    @ipadre: I think the problem is not remembering one’s fallibility, which St. Rafael sure does. I when I say something, won’t either do much fuss about the fact (which I at once accept) that I could still be wrong because of my fallibility etc. pp. The problem is that he is throwing so much people into hell.

    Just so much, I would call it ignorace had somebody very well heard of the Catholic Church but only that she makes a bundle of quite extraordinary claims, without insight that she has a right to claim these claims. Part of this ignorance may be sinful, but thanks to God forever and ever, even a sin is no unalterable hindrance to Salvation.

  54. Supertradmum says:

    What a fantastic public witness to Muslims. The Koran and hadith are full of texts on revenge and hatred fot us. This small public act of publishing a Mass for bin Laden shows the power of Christ’s death and resurrection.

  55. Supertradmum says:

    Excuse errors as I do not have computer access and am learning how to text

  56. Joe in Canada says:

    the Byzantine tradition has a useful distinction. When praying for the repose of the soul of a Christian of the Church they say “memory eternal” and sing of the promises of life. When praying for the repose of the soul of someone outside the Church they simply say “may God have mercy on his or her soul” and leave the deceased in the hands of God.

    We could imagine any terrible figure from history and a Mass said for them. We could then imagine the possible consequences (interpretations, misunderstandings, etc) of publishing that.

  57. Papabile says:

    Here’s a link to the Bulletin. What I also find disturbing is that it looks like Mass is being said for multiple intentions at the same Mass…..

    http://www.holynameofjesuschurch.net/attachments/2011-05-15.pdf

  58. MichaelJ says:

    “Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus” does not allow you to make a definitive judgement on who will be saved

    .

    True, but it does allow us to make a qualified judgement based on all of the information we have available. We can say with absolute certainty that unless Bin Laden repented – and became Catholic – before his death, perhaps even the instant before, he is most certainly damned, and that by his own choice. This news about Bin laden’s likely outcome should not be greeted with joy or self-righteousness but instead with sorrow and fear. Eternity is an awfully long time, and I would not wish the torment of Hell on anyone.

    Speculating about what God may do outside of what He has rather explicitly told us that He will do serves nobody. It removes the sence of urgency and encourages others to defer working out their own salvation. How many individuals do you suppose come away from this thinking:
    “Well, if God made an exception for Bin Laden, He’ll certainly make one for me, so there is no need for me to go to Confession or stop wathing that porno flick”

  59. Random Friar says:

    Papabile: There may be more than one intention by the priest for a Mass. He may not accept more than one stipend, except in rare circumstances.

  60. frspecht says:

    There is a more fundamental issue in all this than should Christians pray for any particular public sinner. That issue is a general misunderstanding of what Mass intentions are really about. I am reminded of an incident a number of years ago when a parishoner argued with me about the existence of purgatory and how Vatican II had done away with such a supernatural reality. I could not convince the poor soul. After the argument this same person went up to the receptionist to arrange a mass intention. I really don’t know what she thought was going to be accomplished by this since she was convinced the person was already in heaven.

    Simply put a mass intention is an agreement that the priest will offer HIS intention for a particular mass for a specific intention. I find this custom of making announcements and printing mass intentions in the bulletin to be very intrusive and leading to misunderstandings. People are more interested in hearing the person’s name announced or seeing it printed somewhere than the comfort from knowing that a priest is offering his intention for that person.

    Somehow there is a lack of modesty in all this. It is kind of like announcing the good you are doing. I am also struck that since announcing the name is more important than the fact that the priest is offering the ultimate sacrifice while remembering the person really strikes at the efficacy of the Holy Sacrifice.

    As in most things in my life I am guided by the liturgy itself. I note that in the extra-ordinary form the deacon is intsructed to step back from the altar so that even he not over hear the priest’s intention as most revealing. Is the fact that the priest and God the Father knowing the intention not sufficient?

    I find the typical “announcment”: This Mass is being offered for ______,” confusing. Most of these are public acts of worship and in fact the Mass is being offered for the intention of giving praise and glory to the Father. What the priest is offering his intention for is not relevent to this. This misunderstanding has also damaged the use of votive masses, for the dead, for anniversaries, for the clergy, for the people in time of war, etc.

    Bottom line is that in my parish I have eliminated any misleading annoucements at Mass about what the Mass is for. I would most like to also not print intentions but the custom is too fixed. I do review these, however, and those that might distract people from proper worship be it because they are odd, political or whatever are printed as, “for a special intention.”

  61. robtbrown says:

    Taylor Marshall says:

    Saint Gregory the Great said that we pray the those who have died, IF they were in communion with us on earth.

    True, but the Church is a mystery, and so we cannot assume that we know everyone who is/was in communion

    The reason for this is that prayers for the dead are for the “faithful departed” who are in Purgatory.

    Agree. But how do we know whether someone did not even make it to Purgatory?

    A million Masses, and a trillion Rosaries cannot delivery one soul from the fires of Hell.

    Agree.

    Praying for our enemies is noble – but the time for regeneration and justification is in this life, not the next. Once they pass from this life, their conversion cannot be attained. This is the universal teaching of the Holy Catholic Church.

    Part of that universal teaching includes the possibility of deathbed conversion unknown to those who are living.

    The Church publicly prays for the “souls of the faithful departed” {fidelium animae} not the souls of the damned.

    True, but when does the Church publish a list of the damned?

    Saint Paul did not offer the Holy Mass for the repose of the soul of Antiochus IV or Caligula.

    How do we know that?

    This is also why it would be sacrilegious to have a Holy Mass said for the repose of the soul of Judas Iscariot.

    That could be avoided by having a mass said for one’s enemies.

  62. robtbrown says:

    MichaelJ says:

    “Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus” does not allow you to make a definitive judgement on who will be saved

    .True, but it does allow us to make a qualified judgement based on all of the information we have available. We can say with absolute certainty that unless Bin Laden repented – and became Catholic – before his death, perhaps even the instant before, he is most certainly damned, and that by his own choice.

    Congrats. You just said that being Orthodox (Greek, Russian, et al) is a ticket to hell.

    This news about Bin laden’s likely outcome should not be greeted with joy or self-righteousness but instead with sorrow and fear.

    You’re saying we know with absolute certainty that something is likely. That doesn’t make much sense.

  63. Papabile says:

    Fr. Specht:

    I could not agree more with you.

  64. What does he need prayers for when he’s got all those virgins taking care of him?

  65. Centristian says:

    “Since beatification is not an infallible declaration of the Church, unlike canonization, I would suggest that it is perfectly appropriate to continue to pray for the Blessed. Although it is likely that they are among the Saints, we still don’t know with absolute certainty, and people should not be denied prayers based on likelihood alone, but only when we are infallibly certain they are no longer in need of prayers.”

    Is that right? What is beatification if not the Church confirming the sanctity of an individual? It seems impossible that someone who has been beatified could be burning in Hell right now (or even in Purgatory). And if it is possible, then what on earth is the point of beatification, I wonder? Beati actually have churches named after them. Does the Church concede the possibility of a consecrated church erected in honor of one of the reprobate?

    If it’s true that a beatus might not necessarily be in Heaven, then Bin Laden, it turns out, may fare better than the blessed, apparently, with all these Catholics praying for his black soul and not a one of them praying for all those deceased Catholics with a “Bl.” in front of their names. Wouldn’t it be something if Bin Laden were to end up in Heaven, and were to get there before, say, Blessed Pius IX, simply on account of Catholics praying for Bin Laden…and to Pius IX?

  66. Imrahil says:

    A beatus is declared “in heaven” by the fallible-but-authoritative teaching of the Church, a saint by the infallible. Thus, even for a beatus we won’t pray. The simple test is that the faithful just don’t do this.

    And I might be somewhat hopeful that God won’t let them suffer from the Church’s mistake.

  67. Imrahil says:

    All that being said .. while from a conceptual point of view all those in Purgatory belong to the Church-in-Purgatory, a well-known infidel (if he is there) does not necessarily look so… And since the idea of the Mass-offering is that the Church-on-Earth comes (by means granted to us mercifully by Our Lord) to aid to the Church-in-Purgatory, I personally think that not everything should be done which the Code allows, at least not publicly. Although, to say it again, technically he is now in the Church if he is in Purgatory. – And all that’s not from the point “terrorist”, but from the point “infidel and well-known as such”.

    There is however one good reason to do so. And this good reason is the point that it upsets people; on issues where they seem to need an upsetting. Not about loving one’s enemies, not even about praying for one’s enemies – and I’ve heard recently that “loving one’s enemies isn’t as difficult as we might think since praying for them does it, after all” – but only about not resisting spiritual help for one’s enemies done by others. And while there might be all kind of reasons for an inappropriateness and I mentioned some and think so personally in the case of the Mass offering – hate, disgust, loathing, anger (also just anger; since no just punishment is still needed to be inflicted for one who is in Purgatory) are no reason and neither – and in my view: still less – is the calculation that these feelings might be felt by some others we don’t know about.

  68. Random Friar says:

    Speaking of Blesseds…
    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/romes-exorcist-finding-bl.-john-paul-ii-effective-against-satan/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+catholicnewsagency%2Fdailynews+%28CNA+Daily+News%29&utm_content=FaceBook

    As for bin Laden, if he were to reach Heaven, it would be for the greater glory of God. Talk about snatching a falling soul from the gaping maw of Satan! And the saints and angels would rejoice all the more!

  69. pfreddys says:

    In a recent editorial The National Catholic Reporter took violent exception to restricting Masses said for only human beings. The author of the editorial Msgr. Lance McGroovey stated that “This restriction must be changed!!! Does not our compassion extend to the bunny-rabbits, and puppy dogs?.” Also quoted was Sister Jane Funnydress who said at her Paw To Action meeting “I will not rest until my feline is part of the ordained ministry; after all are not the first three letters of Catholic, CAT?!?!?”

  70. gracie says:

    Praying for Osama bin Laden is a narcissistic “look at what a good Christian I am” moment for the priests who do it and the parishioners who are pushing it.

    You disagree? Okay, then let me challenge you: look back into a month’s worth of news and write down the names of all who have been publicly found guilty of various crimes. There’s Mr. A who robbed a bank and shot a guard, Mrs. B who poisoned her husband, Mssrs. K, T, and Z, who tortured and killed a young boy, and on and on and on. Question – has your parish priest publicly prayed for any of these people or have any of you suggested that he should? No? So why OBL and not any of them? If we’re going to be consistent, we need to pray at Mass for EVERYONE in the world who has been found guilty of a crime – both for those living and for those who have died. I mean, it’s clearly showing uncharitable judgement on our part if we pray for OBL but don’t publicly pray for the other terrorists or criminals as well. Of course, Mass may have to start at 6 a.m. and end at midnight but based on the logic of some of the bloggers here we’re going to have to pray for each of these people by name if we’re going to fulfill our obligation to pray for everyone, right? And if you think I’m off the mark here, then you tell me the correct way to choose those we publicly pray for. For me, selecting OBS but rejecting others indicates that we pick our sinners based on their celebrity which perfectly ties into our celebrity culture. We can’t pray for everyone so let’s pray for those who get the most press, right?

  71. Gracie, I do not comment on the motivations of the person who asked for the Mass to be said, but the man did request it – and the priest should not have refused it. The reason the priest does not say a mass for the souls of those other criminals (I am assuming they are all dead, since that would be the correct correlation) is because no one requested it. I will tell you masses are often said for the souls of criminals who have been executed, and it doesn’t make the papers.

    If by the grace of God OBL avoided hell, the Mass said for his soul will help purify him in purgatory. If OBL is in Hell, God is all knowing, and the graces will be put to good use for those in purgatory who can use them.

    But frankly, I would rather have people act at “look at what a good Christian I am” than act at “look at what a perfect Catholic I am, and everyone else is damned and we shouldn’t bother saying Masses for them”

  72. MichaelJ says:

    robtbrown,
    It seems that your argument is more with the Bull Unam Sanctam than with anything I have said. Pope Boniface VIII seems to have been pretty clear, so please explain how an individual who denies the Primacy of Peter and explicitly rejects his authority and never recants of it – even at the point of death – can still be “subject to the Roman Pontiff”.

    As far as your confusion goes, I’m not sure how I can explain myself better. I can state with reasonable certainty that you are not likely to win the lottery without ever denying the possibility that you may. I can also state with absolute certainty that you will not win the lottery if you do not pick the right numbers. How is that confusing?

  73. Imrahil says:

    The question is what does explicitly mean, and maybe even more striking what does recanting mean. I’ll leave the first thing alone (we do not know how much stating one’s inherited stubbornness amount to explicitly denying what this stubbornness refuses to accept); and say about the second that recanting about all sins of one’s life, inclusively, seems to me to include also whatever was sinful about one’s not having been become Catholic; even if that hasn’t become explicit.

  74. MichaelJ says:

    Imrahil ,
    Perhaps it would be easier to understand if approached from the perspective that nobody, not even Bl. Pope John Paul II, deserves salvation. It is a gratuitous, unmerited gift and witholding it is not punishment. If I give a gift to Father Zuhlsdorf, but do not give one to you, can I be considered to be “punishing” you?

    With that in mind, I recognize that there are those who (perhaps for cultural reasons) through no fault of their own reject the authority of the Pope. Neither is it God’s fault. He will be Just and Merciful, but this does not necessarily mean Salvation.

  75. Imrahil says:

    I usually don’t go this perspective, not for the reason that I’d deny it but for the simple reason of shock and awe.

    Another point: After stating that, yes, you’re right on undeservedness, I think the point of – however undeserved – universal salvation of mankind must be made. The saved are indeed picked out at God’s will, as St. Augustine said, but – and here it must be admitted that St. Augustine sounds different – the picking out actually benefits all men, or would, were it not for some people’s , and may God grant that neither of us all nor any friend of us be among them, deliberately setting their own personal obstacles.

  76. Mrs. O says:

    I don’t think it should have been published but told to the person requesting it UNLESS that person was the priest and he is trying to stir things up. By all means pray for his soul, but if notrious criminals who are catholic shouldn’t have a public funeral, the very least should be applied to him OR he gets last place after all the victims and soldiers are prayed for….I think it is for show unfortunately.

  77. cwillia1 says:

    There are no objective grounds for the hope that OBL has accepted God’s grace. His life and the circumstances of his death strongly suggest that he did not. OBL was a notorious sinner. These facts make it imprudent to announce the mass intention. But we Catholics do pray for “all in need of thy mercy” and for the souls in purgatory. There is All Souls Day. This covers the theoretical possibility that OBL repented. A priest can certainly accept such a mass intention but, as a general rule, should not publicize it. There are other circumstances, as well, when it is not prudent to publicize an intention.

  78. jflare says:

    gracie,
    While I understand your point, this prayer intention doesn’t strike me as a grandstanding or show-off-ish effort. Rather, it strikes me as a genuine effort at trying to live out Catholic faith to the fullest. Praying for one’s enemies can, indeed, be very difficult, but sometimes that’s when it’s most important that we do.

    I don’t believe there’s any mandate that we must pray for every evildoer in the world to justify praying for one. I’m reminded of a news story I saw once in which a teacher lamented that average students don’t get much attention. Good students get lots of attention so they’ll excell, bad students get lots of attention so they’ll not be so bad. Average students..wind up being partially ignored.

    Sure, there’s a risk that good students will become cocky, bad students will simply become more..exploitive..being “bad” simply to keep the spotlight.

    I fail to see how asking God in His mercy to grant one notorious person a teensy portion of grace to save that man’s soul can be a bad thing.
    As for the induced neglect of others..well, I’ve been wondering for some time why we don’t see more call for Rosary crusades and the like. Society as a whole seems to have grave need of Mass intentions and any and all other prayers we can muster.

  79. Aethelfrith says:

    I read a short newspaper article about an Italian priest who offered a mass for OBL, and he publically taught on the matter – in his homily, perhaps. He said words to the effect that OBL is giving an account of his life before the great and terrible judgement throne of God, and that he needs our prayers more than most at the moment. It caused a stir in Italy, apparently, but it seemed eminently sensible to me.

    Is it correct to think that prayers are useful to us on Judgement Day, or afterwards, when we’re languishing in purgatory? Is the Church that specific?

  80. robtbrown says:

    MichaelJ says:

    robtbrown,
    It seems that your argument is more with the Bull Unam Sanctam than with anything I have said. Pope Boniface VIII seems to have been pretty clear, so please explain how an individual who denies the Primacy of Peter and explicitly rejects his authority and never recants of it – even at the point of death – can still be “subject to the Roman Pontiff”.

    Incorrect.
    1. I have no problem with Unam Sanctam, nor with the dogma non est salus extra ecclesiam.
    2. You have inserted the word “explicit” which is not found in Unam Sanctam.
    3. We don’t know whether OBL recanted at death.

    As far as your confusion goes, I’m not sure how I can explain myself better.

    No doubt that is true.

    I can state with reasonable certainty that you are not likely to win the lottery without ever denying the possibility that you may.

    If someone does win it, however, you were neither reasonable nor certain even though you thought yourself to be. And so probability (which is a type of possibility) is not to be confused with certainty.

    I can also state with absolute certainty that you will not win the lottery if you do not pick the right numbers.

    Of course, but that’s not the issue here in so far as neither you nor I know all of the numbers of OBL. We have certain external evidence, but that’s not sufficient to know the state of a man’s soul–we have the words of Christ Himself on that matter. For example, we don’t know whether he was invincibly ignorant. As I have said here before, faith can be implicit (ST, IIa-IIae, Q. 1-3).

    How is that confusing?

    I already noted how it is. These comments should help explain it.

    NB: The principle of clarus-obscurus. A moral principle can be very clear, but as it is applied to a particular act, it becomes less clear whether such an act fits the principle. That is why in Confession we accuse ourselves, rather than are accused by others.

  81. MichaelJ says:

    1. I have no problem with Unam Sanctam, nor with the dogma non est salus extra ecclesiam.

    I have no dount of this although I suspect that we may have a different understanding of what it means

    2. You have inserted the word “explicit” which is not found in Unam Sanctam.

    Kind of an odd critique. Ar you suggesting that Unam Sanctam also condemns “implicit” rejection of Papal Authority?

    3. We don’t know whether OBL recanted at death.

    I never said otherwise and sincerely hope he did, but we were not speaking of him, specifically, were we? Did you miss the part where I wrote “unless he repented”? Perhaps you assumed that I meant his repentence must be public? I did not.

    If someone does win it, however, you were neither reasonable nor certain even though you thought yourself to be. And so probability (which is a type of possibility) is not to be confused with certainty.

    This is rather strange. Does something reasonable suddenly become unreasonable when particular circumstances render it incorrect? We seem to have a different understanding of what “reasonable” means. Is it reasonable or unreasonable to advise someone not to waste their money on lottery tickets as a solution to debt problems? You seem to be saying that the advice would be reasonable for most, but would be unreasonable for the person who happened to win.

    Of course, but that’s not the issue here in so far as neither you nor I know all of the numbers of OBL. We have certain external evidence, but that’s not sufficient to know the state of a man’s soul–we have the words of Christ Himself on that matter. For example, we don’t know whether he was invincibly ignorant. As I have said here before, faith can be implicit (ST, IIa-IIae, Q. 1-3).

    It absolutely is the issue. The state of OBL’s soul is known to God only and is sealed as far as our human perception of time goes. There is still time for others who find themselves in a similar situation, though. Your objections effectively prevent preaching repentence and conversion. We cannot state, according to you, that an individual must be Catholic in order to be saved because we have no way of knowing with absolute certainty who is Catholic and who is not. We cannot tell people that they must obey the Pope, because this would “condemn” ( as if it were in our power) all of those who do not.

    Sorry. The hypothetical Osama Bin Laden – the one who did not repent or do anything contrary to what is publicly known – has most assuredly condemned himself. I certainly hope that this individual does not exist, but neither will I become paralyzed.