Death of Bin Laden: Not a Time to Celebrate, A Franciscan’s Prayer for Peace

“As a follower of Jesus Christ, I do not celebrate any human being’s violent death. My prayers go out to the entire world tonight. May the fear that has shaped our world in the last decade cease and may peace prevail. No more war. No more violence,” my Facebook status reads tonight.

On one hand, this news is something that is being lauded on many fronts. NBC Middle East correspondent Richard Engel congratulated the U.S. Special Forces troops that killed Osama Bin Laden and retrieved his lifeless body. It is news that is being hailed as triumphant and celebratory. And I can understand that. As a citizen of the United States, I can appreciate the ways in which the distorted religious and political views of this deceased man have irrevocably changed the landscape of our society.

Yet, I am a Christian. I cannot take joy, regardless of how much I am tempted to be swept up in the celebratory fervor of my fellow citizens, in the death of my brother in our human family. Yes, Osama Bin Laden committed some horrible, terrible things and led a movement that cannot be supported in any form. Nevertheless, he was a child of God no less than your neighbor, son, daughter or self.

Let us not forget that in addition to the more-than 3,000 people who have died on September 11, 2001, many thousands of more have died since that time here and abroad. More people will also die. And every human death, before its natural end, is a tragedy.

If we proclaim to be “prolife” and value the inherent dignity of every human being from conception to natural death, then we must temper our desire to gloat about the death of one man with the reality that any person’s violent and premature death is something to lament. No person’s death is an occasion to celebrate.

So, while many — perhaps most — of the United States will be celebrating this news, let all Christians, all Muslims, all Jews, all believers and non-believers — All members of the human family — pause and take this moment as an opportunity to say “never again!”

Never again to violence.  Never again to fear.  Never again to terrorism and the loss of lives in violent death, no matter who those people are.

May all find peace tonight.

Photo: Telegraph (UK)
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30 Responses to “Death of Bin Laden: Not a Time to Celebrate, A Franciscan’s Prayer for Peace”

  1. If Osama Bin Laden truly believed he was doing God’s work, I believe he could be in Heaven. I hope he is.

    • I agree Jared! Of course he is in heaven. He was doing the best he could with what he had – even though his behaviour was not acceptable!

    • You MUST be kidding, or clueless….Doesn’t matter if what he Believed was GODLY, he committed HORRIBLE sins and did not profess JESUS CHRIST as LORD, he is NOT in heaven my friend..

      • Steve, I ask you to please refrain from name-calling (re: “clueless”) in posting your comments or I will be forced to delete your remarks. As for your comment about heaven, no one can say with certitude who is or is not in heaven. I’m afraid your statement is incorrect on that front.

    • So, Steve, I can appreciate you disagree with me–no problem. I have taken the Vatican’s advice and used this death to reflect on my own sinfulness. To be honest, I am a very driven person with a great deal of faith. Who knows? If I was born in a different part of the world under different circumstances, I could have become a terrorist, too. I also don’t take a lot of credit for being a dedicated Roman Catholic–I owe it entirely to God. I don’t take credit for being unable to feel happy about the death of a terrorist. It is simply the result of God working in me.

  2. A. Nonymouse Catholic Says:

    Can we not celebrate overdue justice?

    All thing being equal, it would be better if UBL hadn’t done what he did. But, doing what he did, justice being served is a good end. Sure, better if he would have converted and become a Saint, but that didn’t happen. This is about the third best thing that could happen, and probably the best thing given UBL’s freely made choices.

    You’ll excuse myself and St. Thomas, as both of us suspect that we will take pleasure in the contemplation of the final justice meted out by God.

  3. God does not desire vengeance and this is not God’s form of justice. http://wp.me/p16fWT-Rr

    • Br. Dan

      God does not desire vengeance, but the Navy SEALS should be recognized for their great work in pursuing and apprehending Bin Laden.

  4. It was not out of justice nor revenge that we took this man’s life, but out of defense. The man made it his life’s vocation to kill as many americans as he possibly could. The jubilation people are experiencing is the peace that one multi-billionaire with the ability to command hundreds of thousands of fundamentalist soldiers has been removed from this planet. I stand for life, and that includes protecting the ones that Osama had hoped to kill. With his last act, he held an arab woman up as a shield to the bullets, and took her life down with his. From this point on, no more deaths should be made on his account. God bless USA

    • Catherine Says:

      Amen

    • Yes, I can understand the FEELING of revenge when huge hurt has been dealt out, but what are we doing in our world with such a philosophy of revenge! If they could kill the man, they could also capture him! Killing solves nothing!

      • J. M. Kelley Says:

        Mary said…
        “If they could kill the man, they could also capture him! Killing solves nothing!”

        Taking him alive was not an option. Had he been taken prisoner, this would have motivated terrorist attempts to free him — hostage situations in which bombers threaten to blow up school children unless he is released.

        Like the Allied plan to shoot Hitler if he were found alive, the summary execution of an enemy leader in war can prevent his followers from killing even more innocent people in desperate attempts to free him. But I agree that bin Laden’s death should be an occasion of somber prayer, not celebration.

  5. I think it’s interesting how life on earth seems to be always our top goal. I tend to imagine that God is interested in far beyond this relatively short stint we spend here in our human condition.

  6. Nice Br. Dan,

    One small quibble: I would say that EVERY death is cause to celebrate. We pray in the sure and certain hope of God’s forgiveness for us all. Even Bin Laden is offered that forgiveness and I pray that he can move towards that offer of God’s boundless love today.

  7. Adrian Says:

    we can celebrate justice, but this was not just.

  8. Catherine Says:

    I never wanted to see anyone killed. I’ve never thought it was the right thing to do, to take someone else’s life for any reason. But seeing as Osama Bin Laden was finally stopped, I can rest knowing that was done had to have been done so that many more people’s lives will be saved.
    “Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” – John 11:50.
    I won’t be celebrating this, but I do look forward to the safety of many more people.
    Never again.

  9. [...] I just woke up to the three inch headlines of Osama bin Laden’s death. All I can feel is grief. This is not a time for jubilation, no matter what the news media may be stirring up. Particularly for those of us who are called to love our enemies, to pray for peace, to do justice, this is a time for prayer and contemplation. Daniel Moran says it better than I can. [...]

  10. [...] them. Whether or not one agrees with Augustine and just war theory (on this I recommend the blog DatingGod for a pacifist’s response) – it seems clear to me that one cannot love one’s enemy while [...]

  11. You speak the Truth…
    Dr. King wisely said, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. … Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

    It’s a shame he wasn’t a Franciscan… ;) – Yet clearly the Holy Spirit helped him to articulate such a beautiful Truth.

  12. [...] a reflection on celebrating over Bin Laden’s [...]

  13. Barbara Mackey Says:

    Sadam Hussein was captured and given a trial, and even though he made a mockery of it, and Bin Lauden would be likely to do the same, at least the world got to see that Americans use a just procedure instead of a violent one.

    • We should not celebrate any person’s death, so it is with sadness that we reflect on the death of Osama Bin Laden. I hope he receives God’s abundant forgiveness. At the same time, Barbara, I give the armed forces the benefit of the doubt and assume a just procedure was used to apprehend a criminal with the least risk to innocent civilians. I am proud of our military for removing a very dangerous criminal.

  14. [...] Death of Bin Laden: Not a Time to Celebrate, A Franciscan’s Prayer for Peace “As a follower of Jesus Christ, I do not celebrate any human being’s violent death. My prayers go out to the entire [...] [...]

  15. Charlie Says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. When I initially heard the news, and saw the cheering, I felt sick to my stomach. I also felt a fear of being ostracized if I spoke up about this. You’ve so beautifully articulated how I felt, that it will be tough for people to not see this perspective.

    In this scary world we live in, people like you give me hope. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

    Prayers,
    Charlie

  16. Br. Dan,

    Thanks so much for posting this. I especially appreciate your perspective on this as a Franciscan.

    I posted a similar entry (my first ever, actually) at my blog, http://iconfiteor.com. It comforts me to know I’m not the only one struggling with how to feel.

    Also, on that note, Fr. Frank Pavone had a good tweet on the topic. He essentially advised that it was okay to rejoice at the greater effects of his death, but that we should pray for his soul all the same.

  17. Why is this called ‘dating God’?? Makes no sence.

  18. I’m an atheist, so the sentiments are a bit religious for my taste, but I essentially agree with you. And I think you’ll find many in the atheist camp agreeing that this is not cause for celebration. I wrote that we have two issues (separate even from any biblical issues or things specific to only Christians). These are that the death does not deter future threats andthat the reaction to it brings us closer to the wrong mentality about violence.

    http://foxholeatheism.com/should-we-celebrate-the-death-of-osama-bin-laden/

  19. Mary Bir Says:

    T do not believe in celebrating bin Laden’s death even though he was the mastermind behind the bombing of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. As a Catholic, I fermally believe in the biblical passage, “Revgenece is Mine.”, sayth The Lord. We are taught from a young age that God is loving, kind and swift to punish. I have said many times that these people are, for the most part radicals and Like the Catholic Church of long ago, trying to force their beliefs on the world in whole. I fear that the Middle East still has a can of worms to be opened in time on us and the world. I pray the Divine Mercy everyday for all and the whole world for true world peace.

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