This reflection is now available in Daniel P. Horan, OFM’s book Franciscan Spirituality for the 21st Century: Selected Reflections from the Dating God Blog and Other Essays, Volume One (Koinonia Press, 2013).



  1. The administration that ordered this assassination also wanted to court martial a Navy Seal when they first took office for breaking the nose of an enemy combatant. That is the way liberalism works. They are against poverty, but endorse murder through abortion as a way of reducing poverty. They oppose enhanced interrogation on the campaign stump, but will use information from that kind of interrogation to assassinate an enemy.

  2. Well written and thought provoking Br. Dan. Jared summarized all to well my counter. And, while Biden is certainly no the posterchild for the Church, I like to give at least the benefit of the doubt that his intention was both of gratitude for the “closure” but also praying for God’s Mercy and forgiveness for ALL. Perhaps an extra “Oh my Jesus!…..”

    Now, I truly understand and respect your fervor for the underprivelged, forgotten, etc., afterall you are a Franciscan and soon to be ordained, and perhaps in all the hype, the other social justice issues are overshadowed by the pro-life cause. My challenge is the complex duality posed by the blog. On one hand the commentary is supportive of the current administration and political ideals – aide to the poor, anti-war, etc; however, one seems to have chosen deprioritize abortion in the process. One is all to quick to show the GOP or conservatives as war-mongers, yet demonstrating, (under the false pretense), that the other side is the altruistic savior of the society, while they hold tight to the anti-life agenda.

    As for the tell-all, I don’t believe in all this total transparency, and I do believe that there are still certain things that the general public should not know. But, alas I am dating myself as a Cold War Veteran, and in today’s digital age, the media has opened “pandora’s box”.

  3. Again with the “liberals”! I’m not sure of any person that would contend that abortion should be legal in order to curb poverty. Certainly not a liberal like me. Although, I do find your feeble accusations of hypocrisy against “liberals” apropo, considering Dan’s iron-clad argument accusing “conservatives” of the same.

    1. Unfortunately, there are people who do see abortion and sterilization as a means to controling population growth, many of whom are on the “liberal” side supporting the rest of the “culture of death” mentality. As part of the great “social contract” I can support the rights of every, as long as their “rights” do not infringe upon mine, or education of my children, which in today is no longer the case. Lastly, it is too bad, that the pro-life democrats, are so completely overshadowed, (even more than the moderate GOPs by the right-wingers), by the pro-choice, solicial libertine, relativists of their own party.

      Now, as for Br. Dan’s iron-clad argument, I only suggested that by staying more neutral or just “left” of center – a less antagonistic style – IMHO would demostrate less preferencial bias, unlike the current mainstream media outlets.

      1. *** What I found most disturbing about the details of bin Laden’s final moments was the report back to the SEAL unit by the sailor who fired the shot: “For God and country.” I’m am 100% sure that this was not done for God. But that the shooter could think that so readily suggests that this was, in part, the mindset of those tasked with killing the world’s #1 most wanted criminal. Surely it was done “for country,” of that fact there is no doubt, but what do we make of the claim “For God?” ***

        This paragraph completely downplays the fact that the world’s #1 most wanted criminal, AQ and other radical Islamic extremists are doing the same thing in the name of Allah. And by many ecumenicals, they are one and the Same, as we are all desendents of Abraham. This paragraph therefore villanizes the Sailor who was fullfilling his duty, and for whatever the reason, said “for God and country.” This phrase has long been associated the service personnel. And while one may completely disagree with ALL forms of war and killing, completely nullifying St. Augustine’s “just war” premise, we servicemen do have sense of purpose, which may not be perfect, that to the core of our being is for God, country, and family, and in that order. This is especially pertinent as the Western World (aka Christianity) is under attack by radical Islam. And counter to all the touchy-feely, kum- ba-ya naive people, Islam may be a “peaceful” religion, but is does also call for a Jihad and the establishment of the Caliphate. And, the difference between the Shia and Sunni types is more than just the difference between the post Vatican II and SSPX traditionalists. And, if one wants to condemn a Sailor for having a sense of accomplishment, then IMHO, one by default condones the actions of a terrorist and his theology, as twisted as it may be.

        Lastly, given the current climate, and whether we like to admit it or not, his death, however tradegic as a “loss of a life”, was a necessity. Should it have been rejoiced, of course not! But on the practical side: Where would he have been kept? At who’s cost? If the average cost of prison inmate in California is $50K annual (2008-2009), could one only imagine the direct and indirect costs of keeping UBL? Could the administration justify the expense while they are forced to cut the defense budget along with social justice programs. And, if we can’t get resolution for Gitmo detainees, could one imagine the legal quagmire of the UBL?

  4. Matthew-

    I think that the first point you make, that Islamic extremists do the same thing (killing in the name of God) is very weak. I mean, just because they kill in the name of God, does that mean it is okay for us to do so as well? I do not think so. And, if we take on this mindset, then aren’t we exactly like the extremists?

    Also, I don’t think that by condemning the sailor’s choice of words (and I know that “For God and for Country” is a very common phrase for men and women in service) means that you are condoning the actions of the terrorist and his theology. At this point, I think it is pretty safe to say that the post does not condone any action of violence, no matter who is doing it or for what reason the act of violence has been done.

    Finally, just a note about this blog being too far “left” or too “liberal,” go look at the DG post on Education from last week- in that very post Dan criticizes Obama for his weak policies on education. So, I don’t think that this blog is one-sided or biased. I think it presents a very fair view of current events through the radical lens of the Gospel.

    And really finally, I hope you are doing well, Matthew…long time no talk!


    1. Jules, I will send you a FB message to catchup. Miss you too and hope you are well.

      Of course I don’t believe that we should lower ourselves to the extremist level; however, I have not fully come around to dismiss St. Augustine’s just war premise as yet. Br. Dan still has some work to do on that front, but there is still hope.

      My second point while a little extreme, is that highlighting the Sailor without even a mention of why he would chose those words, or an aside to mention the non-peaceful aspect of the Islamic extremists, does IMHO through that silence, support the victim (UBL). I know that Br. Dan is not supporting any form of violence, but again, IMHO who is the true victim? The Sailor or UBL or us all?

      Finally, one out of how many posts, criticizing the O on his education policy stance, does not IMHO make for a well balance centrist view. And, there are several posts that are clearly left-leaning, attacking everyting in the GOP, praising the current regime, and yet failing to mention the sheer hypocrisy of their form of “solicial justice” while supporting the “culture of death” issues (e.g. abortion). My main point of contention and critique is not the blog’s highlighting the GOP mistakes, which I fully accept there are many, but not fully examining, even in a parenthetical note, the dems/progressives’ faults with regard to ALL of the Catholic social teachings. I certainly did not see any critique of Pelosi from the learned scholars at CUA, during her term, but there certainly was a public uproar when Boehner was to speak at the commencement. Yet, these were perhaps the same individuals that supported the O, a pro-choice democrat to speak at Notre Dame’s commencement? My challenge to us all (including myself) is to seriously examine equally, both sides of the arguement.

  5. Osama Bin Laden, We hardly knew you!

    The idea of him was scarier than the actual person. It would have been enlightening if he were arrested and put on trial, what a story he could have told being on the CIA payroll thru much of the 1980’s.Beginning in 1979 he and the Mujahedeen were paid several million dollars a year, millions more in arms shipments, ammunition and missiles. In “Operation Cyclone” the Mujahedeen and Al Quida were paid by the American taxpayers and fought the good fight against the Russians. At one time He was on the same team as the Navy Seals who shot an unarmed old man in the head- Not exactly a Braveheart moment!
    The assassination attempt and success was against a man that was never charged with an American crime-the FBI found no hard evidence that Bin Laden was connected to 9/11, so they dropped the case!
    According to the American justice system, a person is innocent until proven guilty. If he was such a bad ass-prove it to the whole world!
    Shame on those who claim that justice was done in his killing, maybe American version of justice was done, but justice should be a lot bigger than the Yankee version. Osama was invented and paid for by the United States, and the outcome was never in doubt-he was never going to be taken alive-so much for empire justice.
    Pat Sieber OFM

    1. Yes, but we should also consider the context and history. As Br. Dan pointed out, this issue dates far back, before the colonial empires. As for the 20th Century, we did create the problem, but in context to contain communism. Then with the fall of Soviet Bloc, I admit, we did not do the right thing and continue the appropriate (non-military) support. But, there are many things that fight for budget line items, and one of them was not “helping” oversees in this capacity, but helping more domestically as there was a shift in power here in the U.S.

  6. I only want to add something to think about….perhaps the words of the Navy Seal were for himself. Perhaps this was the way that he could, in some way, justify what he was ordered to do. I can’t imagine that it is ever easy to pull that trigger, no matter what your training is…

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