Usama Bin Laden … Rest in… well… whatever…

Pres. Obama announced tonight, fairly late on a Sunday night, that Usama Bin Laden was killed a week ago, as it seems. [Correction: about 3:30 EST Sunday.]

I am guessing that he made this announcement tonight, USA, time, so that people rising in other parts of the world would get the fresh news during the morning at the beginning of a week, as markets open, etc.   Had it come at the end of the week, it would have been fodder for Friday evening Muslim sermons.  It still will be, but after several days.

Nevertheless I find the timing of both the event of his killing by a small team of US operatives in a fire fight and the release of the news interesting.  One friend called me facetiously to opine that they actually found him at a Taco Bell in North Carolina and flew him back to Pakistan before… you know.  Moreover, the President seems now to be ready to quote a standard of American patriotism, the Pledge of Allegiance, with its strong invocation of God, when for sometime he couldn’t bring himself to quote the Declaration of Independence correctly with its reference to a Creator who gives us our rights.  Color me cynical.

And now CAIR is piping up to say that it is glad that the US military got him.  Color me more cynical yet.

So, Usama bin Laden is dead.  He has now gone before the Just Judge and has received whatever eternal reward he merited.

I wonder what Mr. Gaddafi is thinking tonight.

I may say a prayer that he repented and God is merciful.  I wonder if I will really be saying it for his sake or for my own.

I am bit concerned at the cameras on the young people jumping around like IDIOTS whooping and hollering because someone was killed.  Although the kids with the “BUSH” t-shirts were amusing and perhaps not the sort of image the White House wanted.   Still, this story was – thank goodness – able to bump reruns of the royal wedding off air.

I can understand the urge to celebrate that a paragraph of a chapter of US history has been brought to an end.

I would rather see Americans welcome this news with a quiet nod of the head than with squealing in the streets. (cf Proverbs 24:17) It seems to me that his death isn’t something to strut about as if it were a gold medal win at the Olympics.

I am also grateful to the military and intelligence personnel who were involved.  Hard, dangerous, quiet, anonymous work for the sake of the safety of others.  Navy Seals did their job.

Will sleeper cells be awakened on the news of his death?  We shall see.

Final thoughts….

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. dep says:

    We are of course obligated to pray that in the final instant he converted and repented. Less clear is whether we must do this tonight.

  2. mndad says:

    “Pres. Obama announced tonight, fairly late on a Sunday night, that Usama Bin Laden was killed a week ago.”
    No he announced that Bin Laden was killed today

  3. Kathy C says:

    No, mndad, Fr. Z’s phrasing is correct. He announced today that Bin Laden was killed a week ago.

  4. Kathy C says:

    Oh, and Dep? I’m with you. Some bit of guilt that I haven’t prayed for him, but right now I couldn’t do it with a pure heart.

  5. Shellynna says:

    Dep, tonight is still Divine Mercy Sunday and would be an auspicious night on which to pray that God’s mercy found Bin Laden even a split second before death claimed him. “For the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.”

  6. racjax says:

    Then why did Obama say “today”? Same day as the beatification.

  7. Peggy R says:

    Anchors said the action was a week ago and the time was needed to check DNA. But O said that he authorized the action today. A bit confusing. I do find the cheering crowd odd. Nearly all college kids. Not the usual demographic for flag waving these days.

  8. anna 6 says:

    How wise it it to show these chanting American kids on TV? I told my college kids to stay far away from celebrating groups.

  9. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    But, it took the lives of countless numbers of people, some combatants, many not; pause and pray (or spare a few thoughts) for all the lives that were destroyed in the process. One head of the hydra has been cut, how many more will spring into place?

    But tonight, praises and thanksgiving, and tomorrow, rejoin the effort.

  10. mndad says:

    Kathy C , while it certainly would make sense to let a week go by to check DNA
    the President did say he authorized the go ahead 8 days ago but he did also say that Bin Laden was killed ‘Today” – I share Fathers concern over the college kids hopping up and down and clearly enjoying the spotlight – not very helpful indeed.

  11. APX says:

    Usama [sic] Bin Laden … Rest in… well… whatever…
    That’s about how I feel right about now.

    I’m not going to lie. The first thing I thought about when I heard the news was the possibility of gas prices going down. (And it’s still on my brain.) I remember they started sky-rocketing when this whole ordeal started back in 2001-2002.

  12. asophist says:

    O my Jesus, forgive us our sins . . . lead ALL souls to heaven, ESPECIALLY those in MOST NEED of thy mercy!

  13. amsjj1002 says:

    This news being released on Divine Mercy Sunday, on the day of John Paul II’s beatification, brings back memories of 9-11, and gives me matter for meditation.

  14. americangirl says:

    Dear Lord grant me a merciful heart: A heart like Jesus and Our Lady!
    Teach me Jesus to ask the Father forgiveness for those who have injured us!!!
    I ask this grace
    because my thoughts are not very charitable on the news of this man’s demise!

  15. dep says:

    Indeed, asophist, though surely it would have been more propitious had this particular soul been led to Heaven a decade or two ago.

  16. Lirioroja says:

    I used to work about a 5 min walk from the WTC. And that’s where I was on 9/11. I’ll never forget it.

    I do hope that Bin Laden had a chance to repent before he died. I truly do. But I won’t lie to you: I’m glad he’s dead. I have a sense of relief since I got the news. And a sense of justice served. Perhaps at a future date I’ll care more about mercy towards him, or his soul rather. For now I’ll leave that in God’s hands.

  17. Geoffrey says:

    All the celebrating makes me ill. No Christian should rejoice in the death of any man, whether friend or foe. It is disgusting to rejoice in a man’s death on the very day we celebrate the beatification of a beloved Vicar of Christ who publicly forgave the man who tried to murder him.

    “Diligite inimicos vestros et orate pro persequentibus vos” (Mt 5, 44).

  18. Alice says:

    I guess I should go pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for him and those whose deaths he brought about before I go to sleep. God has a sense of humor: Here I was hoping to have an evening of not trying to squeeze the Chaplet in right before bed.

  19. RJLennon says:

    I cannot say that Justice has been served by this secret assassination. Our country is rejoicing over a murder exacted for other murders, and all I want to do is weep. Weep that once again our government has tread on long established law.
    I prayed for Divine Mercy for Bin Laden, and that was hard to do. My friends are rejoicing as if it were the very coming of Our Lord.

    I’m having a hard night.

  20. bookworm says:

    “No Christian should rejoice in the death of any man, whether friend or foe.”

    Perhaps it is not so much rejoicing in the man’s death, as it is rejoicing that a significant (though far from final) step has been taken toward ending one of the longest wars this nation has ever fought (we’ve been in Afghanistan going on 10 years now, after all).

  21. oratefratres says:

    I would rather be comforted with news of Al Qaeda and Islamic following decreasing. A possible misfortune from this event would be a sure re-election for Obama in the next election.

  22. Fr. Basil says:

    As I remember, our entire rationale for being in Afghanistan to start with was to capture OBL.

    Now we have his body, for what it’s worth. Does this mean we’ll leave Afghanistan tomorrow? I don’t think so.

    And what has his death actually changed with terrorists?

  23. dep says:

    RJLennon: Sorry about the hard night, but you must have them frequently if you characterize things the plans for which were announced publicly nearly a decade ago as “secret.”

    During that time, the subject had every opportunity to change his ways. There is no reason to suppose he did. So consider the action to be in the prevention of future murders.

    Which sort of action is very much in keeping with long established law.

  24. dep says:

    And what has his death actually changed with terrorists?

    Reduced their number by at least one.

  25. It was confusing….

    Before Obama’s address, news sources were saying he was killed last week.

    Obama clearly said in his press conference that he authorized the action “today”.

    I don’t know what the turn around is on DNA, but “a week ago” seems more plausible. If this is the case, I had wondered if they weren’t sitting on it to get past the Royal Wedding and the Beatification – two major events with eyes from around the world looking in. I know, it’s giving them wayyyyy too much credit. It just makes sense to me not to break something like that as two other major global events are taking place for more reasons than one.

  26. Jacob says:

    The US has been at war with al-Qaeda my entire adult life, whether the US wanted to admit it at the time or not when the war first started (I am 30 years old and was watching home from school TV when the first WTC bomb went off).

    That the man behind two decades of attacks on the US is now dead thanks the the US military is not a fact I will regret or not find a sense of relief from that an era is over.

  27. mdsmelser says:

    The cheering young people grew up with the dark cloud of bin La-din over their heads the way we did with the cold war. It is all they have known. I totally get why they are cheering, even if it is a bit gruesome. When the Berlin wall came down, we cheered because it represented something. Bin Ladin being killed represents something to them, although terrorism will continue.

  28. aleighanne says:

    Father Z. you are missing another key point: Obama timed it to interrupt the ending of this week’s Celebrity Apprentice! [How could I forget? … um… what is that, exactly?]
    On a more serious note: heard Bin Laden fought back, and that a man in the compound used a woman as a shield (she was killed). Would not be surprised he was the one to use her as the shield. God Bless America, Our troops, and our leaders, the news came on May Day, Divine Mercy Sunday, and Beatification day. thank you Lord.

  29. Charivari Rob says:

    text of the President’s statement:

    He said he authorized the operation “last week” and the operation was launched “today” (Sunday).

  30. Kardinal says:

    Even more so, this guy live blogged the raid without really knowing that he was doing so. Mentions the helicopter hovering and the crash. Started about 9 hours ago.

  31. Kathy C says:


    My apologies, it was today. I don’t know why the confusion in the reports, but you were right.

  32. It sounds like 40 Navy Seals went into that compound supported by Chinook and Blackhawks and 24 Seals on the ground. Imagine… two dozen Navy Seals coming after you.

  33. Elly says:

    Does it make sense to pray that, “in the final instant he converted and repented?” Can our prayers change the past?

  34. Geoffrey says:

    ‘Does it make sense to pray that, “in the final instant he converted and repented?” Can our prayers change the past?’

    I heard Dr. Alice von Hildebrand say on EWTN once that God gives every soul one final chance at accepting Divine Mercy, just before the final end. I also recall Fr. Corapi saying something about since God is omnipotent and omniscient, He can see someone pray in the future for someone in the past… and He can take those prayers from the “future” and apply them to the present… something like that.

  35. Melody says:

    I can’t possibly say I’m sorry he’s dead. My first thought was “Finally!” followed by “But will this help anything?”
    I can’t rejoice in someone’s death, and I too feel a bit ill at the celebrating. But like Father Z I’m too relieved at his death to pray for his soul tonight.

  36. tioedong says:

    my husband just warned me not to travel alone (we live in the Philippines, and there is some worry that terrorists will find revenge by hitting a “soft target”, and there are a lot of Americans living here, mainly ex military retirees).

  37. markomalley says:

    The rejoicing is rather pitiful. As if the killing of one individual, no matter who that individual, is going to change international terrorism.

    Unfortunately, that is no surprise for the TV generation. I hope our world leaders are not that simplistic (but I’m not holding my breath).

  38. misternaser says:

    When I heard the news from the BBC after work, I had the same sinking feeling that this death is not cause for rejoicing.

    Seeing the crowds celebrating makes me sick. This is not a Christian reaction. The difference between these celebrations and the ones of, say, V-E Day or V-J Day, is that those were following the actual end to a horrible worldwide war, whereas these are for the death of one man.

    In fact, these celebrations look eerily like the videos I remember of Muslims shrieking with joy over the American deaths of 9/11.

  39. Peter in Canberra says:

    The images of celebration are as repulsive as those of any mob.
    When will Americans (sorry to generalise but I can’t see any other way of saying it) learn that their view of themselves in the world is not universaly held, and that their own actions lead, rightly or wrongly but nevertheless absolutely predictably, to other peoples despising them and acting on that hate.

  40. sea the stars says:

    Is not praying for someone’s final conversion after his death a de facto denial of the Particular Judgement ? After all, God may be outside of time but Osama was judged at the moment he died. So if he died on Sunday he was judged on a Sunday, and praying for his conversion on Monday is no longer any use.

  41. Danny says:

    @sea the stars

    No, because God is outside of time and sees it all at once. If you were to pray for Adolph Hitler right now, God sees that now and 50 years ago. Think of us living on a timeline and you can point to individual points where we are. God is not on the timeline. He has a bird’s eye view of it. That is how he eternally sees the sacrifice on the Cross and OUR participation at Mass. Are we standing there with John and Mary, or shaking our heads and walking away early? So at someone’s particular judgement God already knows that you will pray for that person in 30, 100, 2000 years and can apply the merit. You could even pray for Judas

  42. Jane says:

    Today I watched on TV a celebration over the death of the notorious Osama Bin Laden and in addition saw a hate-fest by some Catholics on the internet regarding this man. (Before I go on with my comment, I hasten to mention that I am not one of his fans.)

    A few thoughts come to mind. In the Our Father there are some important words. They are: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

    In addition Jesus told us that unless we forgive others, God will not forgive us. The next point is that Sunday was Divine Mercy Sunday and Our Lord promised to forgive all our sins and waive all the punishment due to them, if we went to Confession and Holy Communion on that day.

    No one who is consumed with hate and a lack of forgiveness can possibly available themselves of the Divine Mercy Sunday promise.

    The last point is that since John Paul II was beatified yesterday, reflects on what he did regarding the man who tried to kill him. He forgave him!

    Perhaps you might say that it is easy for me to forgive the terrorist, because I am not an American. My country copped the terrorism also in Bali. Australia had a day of mourning for the many people that we lost in the Bali bombings. We also lost a couple of Australians on 9/11 in the NY attack.

    On the Sydney news tonight there was an elderly mother and father who lost their son in the Bali bombing. They said that the death of Osama Bin Laden did not make them feel any better; because it will not bring Steve (their son) back and of course they are absolutely right.

    Just one more thought: the more people gloat about Osama Bin Laden’s death and the images of the gloating are beamed around for the world, the more disturbed people will plan to get even with the USA and its allies including Australia.

    Our Lord said pray for your enemies. Do good to those who persecute you.

    (Our enemies are unlikely to improve, if we don’t pray for them.)

  43. benedetta says:

    Agree with Fr. Z on the aspect of people out in the streets cheering. Kind of embarrassing that we don’t know what an appropriate response should be, there is no decorum. The man was killed. Ten years after the tragedy at the World Trade Center, and in DC at the Pentagon, and the field in PA, and we’re out there for the tvs like, we are so great. I agree, it’s a killing and no amount of mob rallies in the streets will bring back all of those lives lost, destroyed or affected by what happened on 9/11. It’s been a protracted military operation in that part of the world all this time and in that time has our culture become more humane, less cruel, with elevated civil discourse and a more enlightened sense of our shared circumstances, here and relative to others in the world? Sorry, not celebrating. It’s just another moment after years of horror.

  44. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Over the past few days I’ve seen an unusually high number of women dressed in the moslem fashion. Now we see mob celebrations of a death, just as one would see in the streets of a moslem city. The western world, having abandoned its Christian identity and starting to comprehend the demonic nihilism of pop culture, is adopting more moslem customs. Ss. Alodia and Nunilio and Bl. Antony Neyrot, ora pro nobis.

  45. Jon says:

    American economy in shambles. Dollar internationally worthless. “President” viewed as weak, vacillating, with little chance for re-election.

    10 year anniversary of 9/11 approaching. To “kill” OBL after anniversary won’t have double “positive” effect of building confidence now, and dramatic impact that can be used repeatedly during anniversary.

    Dramatic midnight announcement.

    Body conveniently disposed of, at sea, before independent verification made, to honor “Muslim” burial practice.

    No pictures will be forthcoming to avoid “Abu-ghraib” effect.

    DNA verification incomplete.

    Let the cry go forth – SHOW ME THE BODY.

  46. Re the Particular Judgment: some sort of ‘outside of time’ thing must be in play, because prayers for the salvation of a dead person have a very, very long history in Tradition… they are found in Masses for the Dead, and the phrasing sure sounds like praying for *salvation*, not “merely” being sped through Purgatory. Arguably this goes back to St Paul (2 Tim 1:18: “The Lord grant unto him that he find mercy of the Lord in that Day” — assuming that Onesiphorus was in fact dead).

  47. Kerry says:

    Well, I must ask a rather thread shattering question regarding the ‘will this really change anything’ sentiments expressed here. Change anything for whom? (Pause.) Might I suggest those unfamiliar with it do some reading here: The perspective of those who are or have been warriors is very different from what’s commonly seen/read here. Maybe similar to the faith/unbelief dichotomy. Their is a very different world, predicated on Christ’s “No greater love”. (Do a bit of looking into of the “just use” Latin mottos of various units and outfits. The Special forces is De oppressor Liber; the US Airforce Pararescue is ‘That others may live’.)
    I believe the morale among those in uniform will go sky high. Look for these men and women; thank them for their service.
    And a P.S. to Mr. Lennon. How dare you call this an assassination! How dare you!! We have soldiers who have sacrificed their lives to protect the innocent from an enemy who hides behind them, and wears no uniforms!! Please tell me the insignia of a private in al queda! In a different era such men (Spit!) would have been shot offhand as brigands, pirates and murderers. Note that 40 Seals went in and not 40 Jdams from 15,000 feet. Before you presume to judge these men, go have a chat about things they have seen which do not show up in the press. As a suggestion, go way back to Afghanistan about October 2001 and read about what these ‘persons’ did to Johnny Spahn. Father Z, my apologies for the tirade.

  48. wecahill says:

    I am a New Yorker. I worked downtown at the time of 9/11 and frequently used the WTC subway stop. By the grace of God, I did not use it that morning, and was a ‘safe’ distance away when I watched the North Tower fall. My son, who was 12 at the time, watched this on TV at his school. He thought he was watching my death. He has recently returned home from his first tour of duty in Afghanistan, where he experienced things that most of us cannot imagine. He was nearly killed. As a mentor/trainer of Afghan police, he, and others in his unit, had a price on his head.
    Osama bin Laden is not the only one responsible for 9/11 and international Islamo-fascist terrorism, but more than any single person, he initiated, financed, supported, sustained, provoked and inspired it.
    I for one, am not embarrassed or ashamed at the reaction of my fellow New Yorkers, who sang the national anthem, waved flags, and shouted “USA, USA”. We have every right to do so.
    Osama bin Laden is responsible for the murder of thousands of people, many of whom were, perhaps, not prepared to meet God. He is responsible for the propagation of a religious ideology that, undoubtedly, has led countless souls astray, away from the worship of the true God. I do not think it unreasonable to say that he was a servant of the devil. His removal from the world is a salutary thing.
    Since we do not KNOW his eternal destiny, perhaps it would be a good thing to pray for his soul, and I suppose, to pray for all the other evil mass murderers of history. Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Robespierre, Pol Pot, Durruti, Sainte Just, Cromwell, Tlacaelel, Diocletian, Nero, Herod…. The fact is, we DON’T pray for them. Is that a failure of charity? Is it a lack of faith in God’s saving mercy? Or is it something else?

  49. wecahill says:

    Kerry – Bravo to you for your post!!!

  50. MikeM says:

    I don’t know if those of you who aren’t from the north east really know what these last ten years have been like for some of us. I was in seventh grade in 2001 and I’ll never forget having classmates cry in front of me, wondering if their parents were still alive. I’m sorry to see another soul, as it seems, going to Hell… but I am delighted to finally have a just solution. I have no problem being delighted that that murderer reached a just end… that we’ve been able to stand by our word that those who kill innocent Americans will be punished.

    This was good news. Very good news.

  51. Joanne says:

    O my Jesus, forgive us our sins . . . lead ALL souls to heaven, ESPECIALLY those in MOST NEED of thy mercy!

    Thanks for posting this. Ditto.

  52. jeffreyquick says:

    I’m waiting for a picture (and not the 2009 Photoshop that is making the rounds). It’s ironic that this was announced on Doubting Thomas Sunday. While I don’t think I need to stick my fingers in the bullet holes, I do find the sudden burial at sea to be suspicious. Yes, a picture is likely to be horrifying, but I remember the day when all you could see on TV, over and over, were bodies jumping from burning towers. No image of ObL can be more horrifying than that. Put it on the news at 11; the kiddies don’t need to see it. Those who remember 9/11 do.

  53. brianvzn says:

    Unless Osama was baptized by one of the Navy Seals before they killed him, I do not understand how he could not be in hell.

  54. The Egyptian says:

    I agree with all the reservations listed in the combox, still I hope someone included a piece of pork in the burial shroud, good riddance to bad rubbish, remember, he chose the sword and he died by it, pity it all started, does this end it, no, but still, we can hope.

  55. Ezra says:

    perhaps it would be a good thing to pray for his soul, and I suppose, to pray for all the other evil mass murderers of history. Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Robespierre, Pol Pot, Durruti, Sainte Just, Cromwell, Tlacaelel, Diocletian, Nero, Herod…

    My father (English, Catholic – and not a Nazi!) told me how he prayed for the soul of Hitler, on the grounds that the dictator had been baptised Catholic and was likely to be in need of prayers that few would offer for him. I imagine there were Spanish clergy who prayed for the soul of Durutti on learning of his death. I don’t see why loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us should stop when they die.

  56. M.D. says:

    “Fr. John Zuhlsdorf says:

    … Imagine… two dozen Navy Seals coming after you.”

    Scary thought. Though, I could imagine Ayman al-Zawahri won’t sleep like a baby tonight.

  57. Ezra says:

    Unless Osama was baptized by one of the Navy Seals before they killed him, I do not understand how he could not be in hell.

    He may have been in receipt of extraordinary graces in the moments before the bullets struck him down. Who knows? Except – perhaps – for the case of Judas, where Our Lord’s words have often been interpreted as pointing to his damnation, we simply can’t say with any certainty that any given man is in Hell. As St Paul tells the Corinthians, we must “judge not before the time; until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise from God.” (1 Cor. 4:5).

  58. BobP says:

    I just wonder if OBL would have gotten so much “compassion” had he been killed under GWB forces. That being said, I think Bush and Cheney showed class in giving the proper credit to this event.

  59. rakesvines says:

    Re: ” I wonder if I will really be saying it for his sake or for my own.” You candor is salutary. I don’t even think of saying a prayer; I was thinking along the lines of finish them all off and send them back to… But, there’s a new dimension that you represent, together with Bl. John Paul II and the present day martyrs i.e. the Christian dimension. I came across this video of Christians being martyred, burned alive and what I noticed was the peaceful acceptance in the demeanor of the man whose clothes are burning while being beaten. It is as though he is seeing Jesus and the Beatific vision is starting click here or go to It is something to think and pray about… for ourselves as you suggested.

  60. Random Walk says:

    My wife and I thought the same things last night… we just got back from visiting the town next door for Divine Mercy adoration (St. Cecilia’s in Beaverton, OR. held it… awesome old church, BTW), when we found that the phone had been ringing off the hook and a ton of emails landed, all demanding that we turn on CNN.

    My first thought was “well, he did have it coming”, but my wife and I both realized at the same time that after about six seconds or so of watching the crowds partying that celebrating anyone’s death is pretty wrong. I understand the feeling of collective relief, but not that of joy.

    I sincerely doubt that he was in any state of Christian repentance when he finally breathed his last… most likely his last thoughts involved reciting Koranic passages. While Islam does revere Jesus as a “prophet”, it relies more on (IIRC) direct appeal to God. I’m not really sure that he’s going to have much in the way of an ‘out’ when he faces his maker, since I’m not really sure that Islam itself relies on grace as opposed to merit. IIRC (again), it’s either a combination, or heavily tilted towards merit.

    All that said, pray for the poor sod’s soul anyway, that God can show him mercy in spite of the man. I won’t equate the two, but I’m fairly sure that Bl. John Paul II likely would have done so.

  61. St. Louis IX says:

    Good Riddens!

  62. Random Friar says:

    If there is not the possibility of Divine Mercy for one, then the possibility of Divine Mercy for each of us becomes more tenuous. May God have extended bin Laden the chance for the one final and everlasting choice.

  63. Chrysologus says:

    Thank you, Father, for pointing out the disturbing implications of people celebrating a human being’s death. The Vatican’s statement, which says much the same thing, will not jibe with many Americans, but I believe it is right. The Bible says: “As I live, says the Lord GOD, I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather in the wicked man’s conversion, that he may live” (Ezek. 33:11). We should be glad that, as a direct result of his death, global terrorism will be set back (how much no one knows for sure) and global peace will be advanced. But, in accordance with the teaching of Jesus Christ (“You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” [Matt. 5:43-44]) we should not rejoice at his death per se. Nor can we assume that his soul is in hell (though that wouldn’t be surprising), since God alone is Judge.

  64. irishgirl says:

    Fr. Z-‘Imagine, two dozen Navy Seals coming after you’….yep, that must have looked pretty scary to bin Laden! Bravo, you guys! Job well done!
    weccahill and kerry-what you both said!

  65. AnAmericanMother says:


    Get a grip, man. Laws of war are quite severe on non-uniformed guerrillas and pirates who prey on noncombatants. It’s not an assassination by any stretch of the imagination. Think of Lepanto – they cut off Muezzin Ali Pasha’s head and mounted it on a pike to encourage the Christians and terrify the Turks (it worked pretty well). And that was an actual military engagement — not the removal of a cowardly brigand who engineered the killing of 3,000 innocent Americans in a dastardly sneak attack on our own soil. If that sort of behavior doesn’t merit termination with extreme prejudice, nothing does.

    The rejoicing is a bit over the top – I’m not a big believer in dancing in the streets – but I completely understand how those people feel. They have had a big hammer hanging over their heads for a long time.

    I’ve prayed before for the [expletive deleted]’s conversion, maybe he had a last-minute chance to repent. So I’ll pray for the repose of his soul and the Divine Mercy. But I’m also glad he’s gone.

    As for whether it will make any difference — even freelance terrorists have to have money to operate. Since he was a major financial supporter, I think it will make a difference.

  66. When I found out, I had two reactions: that justice had been done, and that Bin Laden’s soul was in desperate need of mercy. I’ve been praying for his soul, but I’m really not sad that he was killed. He was not an innocent man. He freely chose the way he lived and the evil actions he committed. At any moment, he could have repented, but he didn’t. It seems to me he received the only logical and just end for himself.

    I’m also not outraged or disgusted that people in DC and NYC have been celebrating in the streets. For 10 long years, those folks haven’t had much to celebrate, and I know from personal experience how long and dark the shadow of grief is. I felt glad for them. I didn’t get the impression that they were celebrating his death so much as cheering for our military for bringing him to justice and expressing their patriotism. As far as I can tell, there was no chaos, no violence, no burning the man in effigy or other nation’s flags, no gun-waving. It was nothing like the scenes of terrorists rejoicing at the deaths of innocents on 9/11.

  67. boko fittleworth says:

    You didn’t care for the royal wedding, Fr. Z, or are you just sick of the over-coverage? I thought the music, setting, and, especially, prayers and sermon were great. Lots of mentions of the Name of Jesus, the indisolubility of the marriage bond, and the ends of marriage by those laymen in silly hats.

  68. Ellen says:

    I just got back from the Chapel of Divine Mercy. I said a prayer for his soul. It might not have been as whole hearted as it could have been, but as Father Menenzes said, God’s mercy is unfathomable.

  69. Xmenno says:

    My feelings upon hearing of the killing of Bin Laden were the same ones felt at the news of the killing of a notorious abortionist in our city – a chill and dread at the thought of a man with great sin on his soul meeting God and the eternal consequences of his actions. Does the killing of this man meet the narrow requirements of the need of society to protect itself? It may. However, the reality of hell is so fearful, that the thought of anyone being there is something to sorrow over, not to rejoice. While there is a certain justice in “life for a life,” it is not ours to mete out. Would that all who sin, most especially those who sin in extreme, repent and be given the grace of God that none of us deserve.

  70. robtbrown says:

    I was just told that:

    The helicopter was lost because a rear rotor hit a wall–visibility was seriously impeded by all the dust.

    Although the operation took 40 minutes, the fight lasted only 10. The other 30 minutes were spent going through the house, taking computers, etc.

  71. robtbrown says:

    RJLennon says:

    I cannot say that Justice has been served by this secret assassination. Our country is rejoicing over a murder exacted for other murders, and all I want to do is weep. Weep that once again our government has tread on long established law.

    Why would you think it to be murder?

    Actually, they tried to apprehend him. He refused and fired on them.

  72. cyejbv says:

    I am SO proud of my 13 year old son; running very late to school this morning, we said our morning offering in the car as we drove and after, I heard him mumble something. It sounded like a plea for God to bless our souls or something.

    Upon questioning, he clarified: “No, Mom, I was saying an extra prayer for the soul of Osama.”

    I pray he continues to grow into the type of adult Fr Z describes: ” I would rather see Americans welcome this news with a quiet nod of the head than with squealing in the streets.”

  73. Ezra says:

    Some people just don’t know when to shut up:

    Islamic scholars question bin Laden’s sea burial
    By HAMZA HENDAWI , 05.02.11, 10:44 AM EDT

    CAIRO — Muslim clerics said Monday that Osama bin Laden’s burial at sea was a violation of Islamic tradition that may further provoke militant calls for revenge attacks against American targets.

    Although there appears to be some room for debate over the burial – as with many issues within the faith – a wide range of Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca.

  74. I can’t say I’m glad he’s dead, but I am glad he is impeded from performing anymore acts of terrorism, or teaching anyone else to do them. I do fear, however, when a guy like this is killed it makes him a sort of martyr for his followers. As for his soul, I don’t wish the pains of hell on anyone, but sometimes people are stubborn about accepting the love of God out of pride for their cause, and in that case, I would not wish that anyone would be refused the opportunity to experience the consequence of their unrepentant actions. God’s justice and mercy are perfectly harmonious, and I take comfort in knowing I don’t have to make a decision or provide an opinion about bin Laden’s soul.

  75. Patti Day says:

    I came to read the thoughts of others on what affect this news has had on individuals. I remember the morning of 9/11. I was at work 1000 miles from NYC, when someone came into my office and announced a plane had hit the WTC. Within moments, all work had ceased as people gathered around televisions to watch in horror as the first building burned and another jet plane roared out of a brilliant blue sky and struck the second building, then came the raining down of bodies and rubble and ashes, and the seemingly slow-motion crashing of the buildings. In our office, and presumably in offices, schools, and homes throughout the United States, individual lives were changed forever, even if they did not directly experience the loss. I had spoken by phone several times in the preious weeks to a woman who worked in an office above the 100th floor. I had never met her. I was shocked at the affect thinking of her that morning had on me. Some days or weeks thereafter I called her number. I don’t even know why I called, some vague hope. Of course, there was no answer. What I remember about that time was seeing strangers help one another, comfort one another, pray for one another, of feeling pride in being American, in flying the American flag, of seeing the media raise the bar a little bit, for a little while. Generally I have an instant opinion on everything, but I think I’ll wait a few days and try to process this.

  76. robtbrown says:

    Fr. Basil says:

    As I remember, our entire rationale for being in Afghanistan to start with was to capture OBL.

    Now we have his body, for what it’s worth. Does this mean we’ll leave Afghanistan tomorrow? I don’t think so.

    That was never the strategy. From the beginning it was to smoke out as many of his lieutenants as possible, then kill them. In fact, most of the anti-terrorist successes have been invisible to the public. TV news seldom reports that Terrorist So and So had hit throat slit in the dark last night by special forces or CIA operatives.

    And what has his death actually changed with terrorists?

    Agree with the implication. I have never thought that whether Osama lived or died was a zero sum game. While he lived, we had the opportunity to find his operatives by tracking couriers.

  77. JulieC says:

    “I wonder what Mr. Gaddafi is thinking tonight.”

    But, Father . . . surely you aren’t suggesting that assasinating Gaddafi is the next great American military mission?

    If so, I might ask you what exactly has been accomplished since the United States arbitrarily declared its infamous crusade against “terror” a decade ago (against the pleas of two Popes, as it happens) except the loss of thousands of American lives, tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans, the nuclear and chemical devastation of two countries and the loss of trillions of American dollars?

    We go into sovereign countries and do whatever we want and anyone who objects is a “terrorist.” We even go into countries like Libya which our own Secretary of Defense declares is no threat to our national security and drop bombs on the population—-for what reason?

    I find it very alarming to see otherwise staunch Catholic “conservatives” support unequivocally the military thuggery and bellicosity of a President whose every other policy and principles they oppose.

  78. AvantiBev says:

    No I won’t pray for his soul to go to Heaven. I cannot wish that on Our Lady and 71 other innocent virgins in Heaven.
    Can’t you just hear them:
    St. Agatha: Ew. Look at him. Hey, Cecilia, you go first.
    St. Cecilia: Uh, no, I ,uh, got to practice my harp. Let’s get Caterina di Siena to go.
    St. Catherine: Whatta you pazzi? I just ate my first good meal in 33 years and that smell of goats would make me hurl.
    St.Cecilia: What about Agnes? She’s the youngest and she’s always toting that sheep around so she probably could stomach him smelling like goats.
    St. Agnes: No way, ladies! Get Lucy. She’s blind as a bat anyway.

    And so on. Which is just my way of saying that I don’t buy into universal salvation nor what Diettrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace”.
    “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, (it is) baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

    But as Father Rutler so aptly coined it, this is the “Age of Sentimentality” and we all (Catholics and others) have been so busy being non-judgmental that we cannot seem to make a prudential judgment and are so open minded our brains have fallen out.

    So many of these online Catholics commenters (Father Z excluded) remind me of those Christian cults that pride themselves on being snake handlers. “Look at the cute garter snake.” they naively bleet. While the rest of us try to warn them that the snake they are handling is that of Islam, the deadly venomous Black Mamba.

    So I will send up my prayers for the Marines, the Navy Seals, and all our military forces and covert ops in harms way. And I will pray for all those trapped by this heinous 1400 year old heresy especially the women and girls and those muslims who have converted secretly to Christianity.

  79. AvantiBev says:

    Father Z.

    Thank you for your link to Robert Spencer’s excellent website, May it lead many curious Catholics to deeper investigation of the meaning of jihad, sharia, etc.

  80. sulldjjr says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. This no time for celebrating, but rather a moment to reflect on the events which led to this day, the innocents killed and maimed, the families wrecked. I lost six close friends on September 11th and a seventh in the Bali bombing, and this news doesn’t make me want to cheer. It stirs all the melancholy associated with that awful day and its aftermath. The revelers seem undignified and clueless.
    I will pray for those who have suffered and died and all those who sacrifice to protect us, and I hope never to think of perpetrator again.

  81. Dan says:

    The mob of students outside the White House was a bit disconcerting…most of them probably can’t even point to Pakistan on a map. Furthermore, I doubt those who were actually affected by 9/11 would react to the news in such a manner. It seems that most of those “celebrating” were using the occassion as an excuse to get drunk in public on an otherwise uneventful Sunday night in DC.

  82. @JulieC: I think the ‘War on Terror’ is deeply problematic, but not definitely wrong – it strikes me as in the zone where reasonable people starting from the same moral principles can disagree.

    (Especially since a lot of the disagreement on its morality strikes me as coming from disagreements on *facts*, too: the people who say it was justified quote different reasons for the war than those quoted by people who say it was unjust… was the Iraq war against Saddam, in law, a continuation of the first Gulf War because Saddam broke the terms that ended that war – or was it a preemptive war because of fear he might get WMDs?)

    In the end, I can see good arguments as to reasonable cause — my qualms come down more on the side of ‘is there real hope of achieving any good, especially any good worth the harm done’? And that I severely doubt. The Middle East is a deeply troubled region, and I simply do not think democracy can work there barring very unusual circumstances (Israel has an enormous “Western” cultural influence, and Turkey is … IIRC, I’m no expert… propped up by the military in an un-democratic-ish way.) So while we might depose one tyrant, like Saddam or Qadafi (sp?), I see little hope of preventing another just as bad from rising… or, probably worse, a half-dozen little tyrants fighting among themselves … as soon as our armies are withdrawn. And committing to a long-term colonial program, even if it were morally acceptable (which I severely doubt), is no longer within the US’ capabilities.

  83. ecs says:

    I am glad he is dead. Justice was served.

  84. Jon says:

    For those of you all eaten up with guilt at the rejoicing of a monster’s end (providing he’s indeed left us), this should put things in historical perspective:

    Interesting comparison, and given the fact the 66th anniversary is coming up Sunday, well worth a listen.

  85. Captain Peabody says:

    The matter is a little complex, as such things usually are.

    One the one hand, as St. Paul and the Tradition of the Church indicates, the State rightfully bears the sword “for the punishment of evildoers,” and thus has every right to kill Bin Laden for his crimes as it done. As Christians, it would be better for them to attempt to capture him alive so as to give him time to repent; but where doing so would be impossible, or even likely to cause further harm to innocents, killing him would always be the correct option. That seems to be the case here. In fact, it seems to me that in this situation the State and the soldiers and others involved in the operation acted in the only way they could have to fulfill their own responsibilities and duties. They should not be imprecated in the least (or at least not unless some grave evil was involved that we are ignorant of).

    And it is indeed right for us to be thankful and even rejoice that this evil man is no longer able to harm anyone, or corrupt any more souls to his cause, or perform any more evil, as he intended to do. It is right to be thankful that this scourge has been removed for us. And it is good to keep in mind that our God is a just God; and the fulfillment of justice, even an imperfect fulfillment, is always a good.

    Nevertheless, it is also imperative for us to remember that our God is a merciful one, whose mercy and love outshines even his justice; a God who has delivered us all from that same justice rather than condemning us according to it. God “has no delight in the death of the wicked”; and if even he, who is All-Just and All-Good, does not rejoice, then how can we, who are wicked and newly saved from death, presume to take any delight in the death and especially in the Everlasting Death of any soul, no matter how wicked or deserving of punishment? For it is expedient for us always to remember that our own sins are deserving of Everlasting Death even as Bin Laden’s, and that, as they say, “there but for the Grace of God” go we.

    Therefore, it is imperative that Christians especially eschew even the appearance of seeming to rejoice in the death of Bin Laden, or in his (probable) damnation, but rather commend him to God’s mercy and pray for his soul, even as Christ commanded.
    Indeed, I would say that it is especially imperative that we pray for his soul, not just for his sake, but especially for our own; for when Christ commanded us to pray for our enemies, he did not mean only the ones we can easily excuse or easily love. He commanded us to pray for evil men, whose evil we cannot excuse and whose deeds we cannot help but hate; and if we cannot or will not forgive and pray for these men, then truly we can forgive and pray for no one, not even ourselves.

    Most Merciful Jesus, pour out your Divine Mercy upon the soul of Osama Bin Laden, murderer and deceiver, that he may be delivered from Everlasting Death, even as you have delivered us, most wretched sinners and deserving of eternal punishment. Grant him and us the grace of full repentance before death, and purgation afterwards, that we all may be made worthy to see the face of God forever.
    Most Holy Mary, pray for us sinners, now and in the hour of deaths.

  86. I am uncomfortable celebrating the death of anyone: Usama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Timothy McVeigh. God loves each of them as much as (more than?) He loves me. I did say a prayer for the repose of his soul last night. I’m sure it wasn’t with perfect detachment and zeal for his soul. I did it because I knew I ought to. God have mercy on his soul!

  87. Kerry says:

    Irishgirl and wecahill, thank you.

  88. Kerry says:

    Here-, is an example of the point of view of a warrior. And this small quote from his writing: ” This is a win in the War on Terror, or the War on Man-Made Disasters, or whatever the euphemism du jour. This, however, is not a football game. In war, the only cause for celebration, in the eyes of a warrior, is its victorious end. …When that day comes, and I am sure it will, I will toast absent companions, and wish them fair skies and following seas, and celebrate. Until that day, I, and we in the Armed Forces, stand ready, ever vigilant, and ready to do violence on your behalf.”

  89. MikeM says:

    I don’t know if 9/11 had the same effect on people outside of my age group, or those who weren’t from the northeast, but for that group of us, it was an event that really shattered our worldview and has shaped our consciousness as we went through formative years in high school, college, etc. A lot of us, as children, had seen the world as fundamentally good… we were raised with notions of a “global community” of decent people where we could all embrace one another. Being born as the Soviet Union fell and as the country experienced a long economic boom, living in an era with low crime rates, etc., peace, prosperity and stability seemed like facts of life.

    Then, seemingly out of nowhere to us, the WTC and Pentagon were attacked… The people seen leaping out of the Twin Towers to a certain death, when they were not our own family members, were neighbors, or family of our friends. The safety and stability we had taken for granted were no longer certain, and the worldview that our planet was populated with good and decent people looked like a deceitful myth which we were forced to replace with the cold reality that there were many people around the world who would delight in seeing our young (mostly) innocent lives torn apart.

    I know not everyone dealt with the shock to our worldview the same way I did, but an awful lot of us have spent the past ten years trying to make sense of it. Amidst it all, it’s seemed like Bin Laden was mocking us with his freedom. Not only had our pleasant childhood conceptions of the world been exposed as a lie, but Bin Laden was still out there rubbing salt in the wounds. How could we believe in a just world or hold out hope for peace and stability, when the man behind the 9/11 attacks was walking around unpunished?

    I know an awful lot of people who have joined the military or intelligence community seeking a sense of justice. And even though I’ve seen people come home in body bags or missing limbs, I’ve considered doing the same. At long last, after 10 years, justice was served. While it probably isn’t very likely, I do hope that in the last instant of his life, UBL repented and asked for Christ’s forgiveness, and if he did (and assuming I successfully complete the race for eternal life), I will gladly greet him as my brother when the time comes. But, justice must be done, and yesterday the brave and brilliant men of SEAL Team 6 were God’s instrument, carrying it out.

    Surely it’s sad that one of God’s creatures chose to reject Him (if indeed he did), but the great step taken towards bringing justice and order to the world and stopping a ranking member of the forces of fear is something to celebrate. So last night, I popped open a bottle of wine, played some fun American songs, and rejoiced with friends knowing that after 10 long years, I could fall asleep without wondering how long that wicked man would freely torment us.

  90. TKS says:

    First thought was, “Good.” Second thought was how terrible I was to be glad of anyone’s death and I said a prayer for his soul, albeit not with full strength. By the end of the day I was wondering why no one questioned the burial at sea and no pictures for proof. It may be a long time before we find out what really happened.

  91. Thom says:

    I couldn’t respond any bettter than this, so I’ll simply link to it:

  92. AnAmericanMother says:

    1. Consider the source. Even 9/11 truthers and anti-semites are right twice a day, but . . . . .
    2. It’s a bit craven to adopt/link somebody else’s nasty words about your host.

  93. old_sage says:

    Too much of the Royal wedding reruns… you won’t escape the happy couple when they visit the US in July.

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