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A swift death and burial at sea were the best options for Bin Laden

As Christians we should pray for his soul

By on Monday, 9 May 2011

The front of the compound in Abbottabad where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed (CNS photo)

The front of the compound in Abbottabad where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed (CNS photo)

When I read all the accounts of the death of Osama bin Laden, they prompted thoughts of a blog I wrote some weeks ago at the time of the 50th anniversary of the trial and execution of the Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann. As the functionary who masterminded the logistics of the mass murder of millions of Jews in the “Final Solution”, Eichmann was as guilty then as Bin Laden is now. He was given the choice by the Mossad agents who kidnapped him in Buenos Aires, of being summarily executed by them or standing trial in Israel. He chose the latter, making the massive miscalculation that his plea of “only obeying orders” would somehow exonerate him in the eyes of the court.

In his case, justice was seen to be done in the eyes of the world. Interestingly, some of the posts I received for that blog suggested that hanging him (the Israeli court’s judgment) was too swift and merciful a death for Eichmann: that he should be allowed to rot in prison for life, and so on.

In the case of Bin Laden, there have been voices, notably the Archbishop of Canterbury, murmuring against the method of his execution, stating that he should have been taken alive and given a fair trial in the US, not gunned down as a defenceless, unarmed man. Actually, I think that in this case the Americans did the right thing: they and we are engaged in a war on terror, however you like to phrase it, just as deadly as, if different from, the Second World War; war is nasty and in it you sometimes have to act swiftly to avoid the loss of yet more lives; in war, summary justice sometimes has to take the place of the fair trials that civilised countries rightly demand in normal circumstances. This was no normal circumstance.

What would have been the point (if it had been possible) of taking Bin Laden alive and then giving him a long drawn-out trial, with its predictable verdict, followed by life imprisonment, probably in solitary confinement, to protect him from the violent reprisals of other prisoners? He would have become a permanent, living, martyr-figure for his fanatical, suicide-obsessed followers. A swift death and burial at sea were the best options under the circumstances. (One of the reasons the Israelis scattered Eichmann’s ashes at sea was to avoid a burial place becoming a Nazi shrine.)

The US Navy Seals were working in the dark; they did not know how many women and children were in the compound; their operation had to be quick to avoid the likelihood of greater bloodshed if the Pakistani authorities had got involved; they took the reasonable view that their quarry, if they hesitated, would grab a gun (a Kalashnikov was found in the bedroom). As it was, the raid was quick, incisive and successful. We don’t need to gloat, to be triumphal, to rejoice that bin Laden can now “rot in hell” as one American fundamentalist commentator put it. But we can feel relief that a person of such palpably evil influence can now wield it no more. This won’t, of course, bring “closure” to the relations of Bin Laden’s victims; but it will bring a certain peace.

As Christians, we should pray for Bin Laden’s soul; for his (sixth?) wife, wounded in the attack; and also for his 12-year-old daughter, who watched what happened and who helped identify her father’s body.

  • Anonymous

    Is this supposed to be the CATHOLIC Herald?

    Just wondering Ma’am – because this is now your second polemic on the justifications of judicial murder – a latae sententiae excommunicable offence. [ever heard of canon 1329#1 Ma'am - tread carefully!]

    You can use every excuse, obfuscation, equivocation, attempted mitigation or even resort to distorting the actual events…but it doesn’t take away the fact that Osama bin Laden [just like Eichmann to whom you refer] were NOT direct immediate lethal aggressors – not risking the life of anyone at the time they were executed – ergo they were murdered – and judicially murdered at that!

    You’ve already seen my previous comments on your Eichmann thread Ma’am – and frankly it is somewhat unfair of you to intimate that we thought execution was ‘too good for him’ – my arguments were that Death is not a valid form of punishment – and it is gravely immoral to unnecessarily take the life of anyone at any time – no matter who they are – and both deaths were unnecessary – may not be classified as positions of moral dilemma – and therefore the unnecessary executions – WERE MURDER!

    Catholic Moral teaching has a recourse to a death penalty – the exacting of lethal force to prevent an objective evil occurring [ i.e. the killing of an immediate, direct unjust aggressor - in defence of person, community or state]- THIS IS NOT CAPITAL PUNISHMENT!!!

    Since the time of the Catechism of Trent it has been made categorically irrefutable that Death is not a valid form of punishment – and rather the Church deemed the individual was offering their life as an expiation for their sins for the sake of the community which had deemed their life forfeit. NOT PUNISHMENT – rather a sacrifice for the benefit of all.

    Now if anyone cares to argue against this please refer to the previous thread on Eichmann first where my argument is elaborated.

    But I’m getting a little bit sick of brother and sister Catholics justifying that which is gravely immoral!!!!

    Ma’am – I don’t mean to get too personal but have you considered that this position might be compromising your professed ‘pro-Life’ position?

  • Jeannine

    I take issue that you equate OBL’s death with the intentional killing of an innocent unborn child or any form of euthanasia. As I have written before & I will write here, OBL is a man who chose evil & who had at least 10 yrs to repent by turning himself in to the proper authorities.

    I think the big difference between your views & mine is that you perceive OBL as a common criminal & the judicial system should deal with him. I & many others like me but who have far better minds than mine, look at OBL as an enemy combatant. The use of the Just War doctrine for his killing is justified as explained in this article:

    But please do not equate this very guilty man’s death with the death of aborted innocent babies.

  • Seangough

    Before God the soul of OBL has the same worth and value as that of any life innocent or not, and before God im sure his soul fills hims with an even greater sadness than those of any unborn child, because they are destined for heaven…

    Dont forget what St Therese said “if I had committed all possible crimes…this multitude of
    offenses would be like a drop of water cast into a blazing fire”

  • Anonymous

    Excuse me – who is equating?

    Where do I make any allusion to a seamless garment morality – or give any indication I have argued for any diminution of the most vile evil of all – the genocide of the unborn.

    But judicial murder is a grave sin – an excommunicable offence – has been seen as one of the worst crimes since the time of Noah.

    Just because a sin is not as deplorable as the slaughter of the unborn does not prevent it being gravely mortally sinful.

    The justifications within the Just War Theory do NOT apply [and may God forgive Joan Frawley Desmond and others who decide to be equivocatingly blindly American first and Catholic much farther down the list- and try to portray this deplorable action as if it were morally justifiable - that is scandalous mendacity!!!!!]

    Osama Bin Laden was not an immediate direct lethal aggressive threat – ergo to take away his life – absolutely unnecessarily [and might we add before arrest and trial] – is murder!

    You might not like it – But please – you can’t claim to be pro-Life when you can justify the indiscriminate unjustifiable illegal and gravely immoral murder of your neighbour – no matter whom he or she is!

  • Stuart @ eChurch Blog

    I’m not taking issue with the premise of this post. As someone currently converting to Catholism I’m on one of the steepest learning curves of my life so far, so please forgive my ignorance.

    The question I’d like to raise is based on this assertion:

    As Christians, we should pray for Bin Laden’s soul

    Why would we do that? What would be achieved? Would it be hoped that in some way he would repent in purgatory and join with the believers in God?

    Any advice on this would be appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    The elder Brother in the Prodigal Son Stuart; the labourers in the vineyard who worked all day…

    Everyone who recognises,acknowledges their sin and repents ; recognising the Sacrifice of Our Redeemer – WILL be saved.

    Plus Our ways are not God’s ways – we have no idea in regard to this poor, pitiful soul – we have no idea of his psychopathology or inner turmoil or how much his sin was wrought by the conspiracy of those who sinned against him – we have absolutely no idea how free this person was to even sin – how tortured or trapped he was…he might have very well been a monster – but his fate is in the hands of God – it is our duty – our express duty – a commandment of the Church to pray for all sinners [because that imperative always includes ourselves]

    Remember St Paul? As Saul of Tarsus he was the Grand Inquisitor whose sole aim in life was to genocidally wipe out that “vile heretical cultic sect” Christianity. Our greatest , bitterest most-avowed enemy became one of our greatest saints – we have no idea what might happen to anyone in the journey beyond – the limts of God’s mercy are boundless…We are expressly forbidden to judge the sinner – only the sin – no matter who they are or were – ergo we pray – and pray hard!

  • Stuart @ eChurch Blog

    Wow, what a fantastic reply Paul. Gonna pray for him now.

  • TeaPot562

    Mixed emotions. One philosopher has commented that the line between good and evil runs through every human heart. Madame Tussaud’s waxworks in London show replicas of the faces of some notorious mass murderers. Surprisingly, the faces of some who murdered a dozen or more seem quite ordinary. When I am judged, I want God to regard me with mercy, rather than strict justice, as my past conduct shows that I am weak. The idea of a civilian trial in the USA for this man, with a superb defense attorney – where would you get a jury in the US that did not have a preconception of his guilt – dragged out as a propaganda forum for many months, followed by years of appeals after the verdict: and the chance that Bin Laden after all that might die of old age while awaiting the end of the appeal process; make the quick execution of him by the navy seals seem a very practical solution to this dilemma.

  • Martin

    Jeannine and Paulpriest, here are my thoughts on what you have been talking about:

    Whether you like it or not, Osama classified himself as a soldier (most probably a Holy Warrior). As a warrior that was engaged in Warfare he would have been viewed as a legitimate target by those he fought against and those he planned the deaths of.

    Given the opportunity to neutralise (kill) the threat, any military power would have been crazy not to take him out, EVEN with the risk of innocent casualties. It is the way they work, armies do not train to lose a war. They are very good at taking the decisions it takes to win. Even unpopular ones that civilians and Christians would find hard to swallow.

    One of the major decisions they would have taken would have been something like this: Would the benefit of killing him now outweigh any innocent loss of life or bad press from this event? Would we be saving lives in the long run? If the answer was Yes. He was dead.

    Was it Murder? From the biblical New Testament view, yes without a doubt. This was the planned destruction of a life without any form of trial. Was it Murder from a secular legal point of view? No, he was an enemy that was to be defeated, we are at war with him and this is no different than a military unit carrying out an ambush on another group of soldiers. They are not expecting the attack and pose no immediate threat to anyone at the time of contact.

    What we are seeing in the discussions here is the confusion of equating Christian concepts to secular Governments morality in war. They rarely marry up. War is War and the niceties of it only last as long as the people can achieve what they want without having to bend the perceived good to do so. Just war is an ideal not a practicality.

    God bless you both

  • Martin

    Paulpriest, i’m struggling with you on this one (normally i would find myself on the same song sheet as you).

    Whilst i see you leaning towards the mercy of God and offering reasons for hope, i don’t really see this as a biblical position in the examples you give.

    Paul was alive when he converted and repented, and in the same way there is no evidence that i can find in the Bible that you can be saved after death as a none Christian.

    Once the clay enters the fires of eternity it is set. I can accept purgatory (although to be honest i still struggle with this one) but only in the case of a believer who needs to undergo further understanding of the sins that they haven’t repented of.

    I see no evidence of an individual who openly rejects the Gospel and denies the Son of God as having any hope of salvation? I do not believe that universalism is preached in the gospel as it negates justice. (the actions that he carried out in life are not relevant to this argument, we are initial judged on faith in the Son of God).

    I know that the Vatican teaches that as long as they have never heard the Gospel there is a “hope” this is possible, i don’t see the evidence here for a sure hope. Not that you ever use the word “Sure”.

    The thought is nice and you are right (thank God) that we do not have the final say in this, I just struggle that you seem to have more hope in this than the bible offers?

    Thoughts welcome

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Martin – and I understand your position [redolent of Nicholas Bellord's on Dr Oddie's thread] but as this is a Catholic newspaper’s blog I do not expect the bloggers to commend that which in Catholic moral teaching is gravely sinful. You see my quandary/bemusement/outrage?

  • Anonymous

    Is death a valid form of punishment?

    What does the catechism say ? And don’t just immediately fall back on the single paragraph regarding th edeath penalty – look around it…

  • Martin

    Totally, and this is why i have my issue with ms catholic state over the issue of recreating a Catholic State in league with any secular state that simply signs up to catholic ideals. It wouldnt work, there would be too many compromises and conflicts of interest. We would be recreating similiar circumstances in the name of God and justifying them as a Holy War in the same way we are doing now. Each error would be a reason to reject christianity without ever Truely hearing about it. They would only ever see politics that are justified by its christian attachment never christianity itself. i digress however.

  • Son Shade

    Well said. Couldn’t have said it better myself, even with the praying for their souls part (I don’t subscribe to that part of humanity). If anyone needs a thought it’s for his “entourage”…the unfortunates that got tagged because of culture and proximity. Tip of the pint to our southern serving Elite who ended it so cleanly. It could have been worse.

  • Anonymous

    Ahhh gotcha! Well…it’s all quite simple really – what of those who for no fault of their own [or for the sins of others] [or the unwillingness of our crowd to evangelise - or even worse the bad example of christians driving them away from christianity] ?

    I do not believe in universalism either – as a principle of divine justice it would demand there’s a hell and we have the freedom to reject all graces potentially awaiting us {Michael Voris speaks of it as evidence of Divine Mercy – and even in Dante the writing above the gate of hell says Divine Immortal Love created Hell for reasons of Justice…

    I honestly think Universalism is gravely sinful – a scandalous ingratitude to Our Lord and Saviour and a failure to recognise the very nature of our fallenness and the consequences of our sin…we deserve justice – God wants to give us every opportunity for Mercy – but there’s a price and it’s death to ourselves – some would rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven….- wanting God on the only unacceptable terms – our own!

    I highly recommend C S Lewis’s essay on Hell in ‘The Problem of Pain’ – and his short novel ‘the great divorce’ is a must-read….


    Take a close look at your Bible – Now here are answers provided by Catholic Scripture Scholars

    But let’s take a look at just one of them:

    Matt. 12:32 – Jesus says, “And anyone who says a word against the Son of man
    will be forgiven; but no one who speaks against the Holy Spirit will be
    forgiven either in this world or in the next.” Jesus thus clearly provides that
    there is forgiveness after death. The phrase “in the next” (from the Greek “en
    to mellonti”) generally refers to the afterlife (see, for example, Mark 10.30;
    Luke 18.30; 20.34-35; Eph. 1.21 for similar language). Forgiveness is not
    necessary in heaven, and there is no forgiveness in hell. This proves that
    there is another state after death, and the Church for 2,000 years has called
    this state purgatory

    What does His Holiness say on Purgatory

    Benedict XVI:”Purgatory is an interior fire. The
    soul is aware of God’s immense love and perfect justice; as a
    consequence, it suffers for not having responded to that love
    perfectly, and it is precisely the love of God Himself which purifies
    the soul from the ravages of sin.”

    and from Spe Salvi 46,47 & 48

    The fundamental issue is that accidents of geography and circumstance are not going to prevent every soul gaining the opportunity to become aware of Christ and accepting/refusing Him as their Lord and Saviour and dying to themselves only to be reborn in baptism – and for the many – even after 2,000 yrs of Christianity – this opportunity will happen after death. It cannot be any other way….

    If we stand on tiptoe – we’ll reach Heaven – we make one move towards Him and He’ll overwhelm us

    with that call to be everything we were meant to be…

    But we are free to take one step backwards – and once that happens it very rarely stays at one…we can wilfully cover our ears, blinker our eyes and scream internally to defy the voices calling out to rescue us…and stride arrogantly, ignorantly and foolishly to our doom….

    But…there’s one thing that no terror, no failure, no sin, no tragedy, no despondency , no lonely despair in the darkness can utterly fact all these things only make it more real…


    Even for Osama – even for you and me!

  • Anonymous

    Sorry Son Shade but that’s my neighbour who just got murdered l they’re my neighbour’s who just killed him – that reprobate in the Whitehouse who ordered it is my neighnour too…

    That I have a murdered neighbour, neighbours who became murderers and a neighbour guilty of judicial murder IS NOTHING TO BE PROUD OF!

  • Seangough

    Stuart its Sean here from Quo Vardis

    as far as what good would it do!!!!!!

    Every good in the world, Hid soul is the most desperate of souls, and the most in need of Gods mercy. If we were to refuse him our prayers then we would be judging his soul to be beyond Gods mercy, we would be setting limits to the love of God. This is intolerable, because we will be judged by the same standards that we judge others with, and we are no more worthy of Gods mercy than Bin Laden. The very second we begin to set limits, we automatically limits our selves.

    Although we may be judged according to our actions, This is only in as far as they signify our cooperation with his grace, Gods grace and his mercy are NOT something we can earn, it is simply a free gift. Paulpriest is right to refer you to the prodigal sons, we must, as hard as it is, love Bin Laden’s soul – because Jesus loves his soul. To pray for his soul is our expression of that love.

    If Jesus is incapable of loving Bin Laden, then he is incapable of loving me. Its that simply.

  • Fidesetratioihtys

    “The true soldier fights not because he hates what s in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” -G.K. Chesterton / My country had seen war in recent time and I know how you must to assassinate (murder) with no(!) intention to take n captivity would qualify as morally good act after(!) our Lord instructed us to love our enemies Assassination of Osama was a political decision of a secular country a secular country.

  • Dcruz

    By throwing his body in the sea, may be the water will become pure as he considered himself very pure. May the fish also might convert to his ideology.

  • Stuart @ eChurch Blog

    Thank you Sean. This is really really helping and making perfect sense to me.

  • FIDESetRATIOihtys

    Somehow I have messed up my last comment so here is a repost.

    “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him,
    but because he loves what is behind him.” -G.K. Chesterton / My country
    had seen war in recent time and I know how you must feel, but I see no
    possible world in which an order to assassinate (murder) with no(!)
    intention to take in captivity would qualify as morally good act
    after(!) our Lord instructed us to love our enemies. Assassination of
    Osama was a political decision of a secular country.

  • カソリック

    I am afraid you are mistaken. Perhaps you do not have military or police experience. Bin Laden very much threatened the lives of the Navy SEAL team who sought to apprehend him for his crimes, and by your own argument was then NOT murdered.

    Those who died at the compound did so in the defense and at the behest of Bin laden. They died because they fired upon the SEAL team and attempted to kill its members. Bin Laden could have directed his defenders to quietly surrender, but he chose to use whatever tools he had at his disposal to threaten the lives of the Americans seeking justice. In doing so, he made himself a legitimate target in the action of the moment. Furthermore, he is responsible for the deaths of his defenders and the risk of death visited upon the women and children, who also occupied the house, by his failure to simply and clearly surrender.

    Of the many present, only those firing weapons or otherwise attacking a SEAL team member were fired upon, but you would have us believe that an unidentified and unarmed man was incongruously gunned down. Remember, there was no positive identification of Bin Laden’s body until DNA testing and identification by his daughter after he was dead, but the SEAL team was very careful not to harm anyone unnecessarily and used plastic handcuffs to detain anyone they encountered who was not threatening them. How, then, could Bin Laden have been fired upon?

    We do not know what happened at the instant when Bin Laden was cornered in his bedroom, and for you to imply that a defenseless man was shot down is a grave accusation that you cannot support. We know that one of the occupants of the room rushed the shooter and received a much-restrained shot in the small target of the thigh rather than the usual center of the chest, which would likely have resulted in death. Did Bin Laden lunge for his ever-present rifle or some other weapon such as a blade or club? We do not know. Was it clear to the shooter in the pitch blackness of early morning that Bin Laden was not wearing a bomb vest under his garments nor was he holding a trigger for a bomb planted elsewhere in the house? Again, we do not know, but we do know the many times Bin Laden stated he would not be taken alive, and we know the willingness of jihadists to kill themselves and murder their own in order to kill a few of their opponents. How much responsibility does one man have to risk his life in order to preserve that of a suicidal and bloodthirsty murderer who has already made every attempt to kill those who came to bring him to justice?

    If Bin Laden had been permitted to remain unmolested rather than be given the opportunity to surrender or be killed for failing to surrender peaceably, would you hold those who failed to act responsible for the deaths of his future victims? There are many ways to murder, but only some of them involve the direct action of a gunman. At the very least, a failure to act while able to act makes one an accomplice to murder.

  • Jeannine

    Thank you for stating the facts which I have also read elsewhere.

  • Anonymous

    er…sorry whoever you are but I don’t really know where to start. maybe you should actually read the details of what happened before you enter the fantasy realms of speculation regarding what those in the compound might have done or might have possessed

    Primarily in the compound – one shot was fired by Osama’s courier – returning fire. ONE!

    In other words there was no gun battle – no mass defensive retaliation – ONE SHOT!

    The Courier’s wife, his brother and Osama’s son -all unarmed were also executed.

    Details are readily available :

    [please note the direct contradiction from confidential sources regarding this being a capture or kill operation]

    Now you can use every equivocation under the sun – to justify the execution of an unarmed man.

    Nevertheless this has very little to do with the argument Francis Phillips provides above.

    “Actually [i.e. contrary to arrest and trial] I think the Americans did the right thing…Summary Justice…What would have been the point?” etc etc

    Was it self-defence? No

    Was it an execution? Yes

    Does Catholicism permit such action?


    Ergo Ms Phillips should NOT be on the Catholic Herald website not merely once – but TWICE – justifying that which is gravely immoral

  • Anonymous

    Well please read them again Ma’am…without the spin or the hyotheticals – try the facts; not equivocating mitigations.

  • Jeannine

    Why are you so adamantly against legitimate opposing views? My views are based on facts that I read or see in the news. I’ve been on the earth long enough to know the difference between fact & fiction.I also know the difference between good & evil. I am against relativism, a philosophy that Pope Benedict XVI is fighting against. Are you?

    For someone who writes about charity & mercy, you are certainly not showing it to your fellow posters.

  • RJ

    I don’t think you are giving adequate consideration to the circumstances: the compound was penetrated at 1.00 a.m in the morning on a night with little moonlight. The encounter with Osama bin Laden took place in a very short time and in a threatening situation. Just how were they to decide calmly and deliberately whether he could be arrested? If they considered him a threat in the few seconds they had to decide, then surely they had to act on that perception.

  • Anonymous

    Because it’s not a legitimately opposing view – it’s neither cogent nor fact-based ; nor is it grounded in catholic moral teaching – it’s one grounded upon a premise that Osama was evil and the US was avenging the deaths of 9/11 etc – ergo their actions must accommodated into some sort of justifiablity – You’ve read the reports accordingly and decided that the fact of an unarmed man being executed can be justified – THAT IS RELATIVISM MA’AM! I wholeheartedly join with His Holiness in the fight against it – wherever it may be found – and it’s happening here – whatever happened to Mtt25 “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers…”?

    Justifying the unjustifiable because it happened to a certain despicable individual – doesn’t take away the fact that Osama bin Laden was your neighbour – and deserves to be treated accordingly – if he was murdered you should have the integrity to say so – and deem it unjust [irrespective of what the monster did]

    Charity? You think allowing my fellow posters to adamantly ignore or repudiate Catholic teaching because it doesn’t fit with their world view – would be charitable?

    Think again

    I’d consider that the worst form of intellectual cruelty and deception.

    Now if you wish to continue – please stick to the facts and the catholic morality regarding those facts – not some obscurantist relativist situationist cop-out to not feel awkward about the fact that US actions were deplorable.

  • Anonymous

    er RJ – they were the ones who decided to do it then – they were the ones who decided to go in all guns blazing – killing four unarmed people in the process…

    If you place yourself deliberately in circumstances where you cannot determine the situation and act in reckless ways – you cannot resort to equivocations and hypotheticals to justify it.

  • RJ

    You’re assuming that they decided to go in all guns blazing.
    I don’t think it was wrong for them to go in to capture or, if necessary, kill Osama. It wasn’t wrong to put themselves in the situation, even though it was dangerous for both parties. Don’t think we know exactly how the team perceived the threat until we have their detailed accounts.

  • Anonymous

    I call it the ‘innocent author’ fallacy – you cannot set the scene, co-ordinate every aspect -make every preparation – and then blame the limitations you wilfully choose/impose on it for limiting your options.

  • Martin

    I need to think through this one.
    I’ll come back to you on this once i have arranged the little gray cells ;)

    God Bless

  • Jeannine

    I see you are using Wikipedia as your source. What a shame! I thought you knew something!

    Anyone who knows anything about researching would not dare to reference Wiki because they know that entries into Wiki’s database can come from anyone in the world. There generally is no verification process of the facts especially regarding to very recent history. Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia. You sir, have made your opinions pertaining to OBL’ death irrelevant.

  • Martin

    PaulPriest , in regard to the comments you made, here are a couple of observations:

    As i mentioned before, i do struggle with purgatory, especially of none christians and if you will allow me, i will use a couple of the examples of Scripture you linked too, to show why that is. Most of the reasons are because the quotes are taken out of context. Please comment if you think i am way off mark and why. I have left the quotes attached to the scriptures and then added my thoughts.

    1. In the examples of Scriptures that you use to indicate Purgatory I would have suggested that you initially should have used Lk 12:58-59. “Come to terms with your opponent or you will be handed over to the judge and thrown into prison. You will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” This is probably the best example of the “potential” of purgatory and one that can be said to be in context.

    2. Matt. 5:48 – Jesus says, “be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We are only made perfect through purification, and in Catholic teaching, this purification, if not completed on earth, is continued in a transitional state we call purgatory. – This in my opinion is a scripture that is taken out of context. If the entire conversation is used in context it is referring to the requirement to EVEN love our Enemies. Jesus is saying, we should be mirroring God and not man, be perfect like him because that is what we should be striving to be like.

    3. Matt. 12:32 – Jesus says, “And anyone who says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but no one who speaks against the Holy Spirit will be forgiven either in this world or in the next.” Jesus thus clearly provides that there is forgiveness after death. The phrase “in the next” (from the Greek “en to mellonti”) generally refers to the afterlife (see, for example, Mark 10.30; Luke 18.30; 20.34-35; Eph. 1.21 for similar language). Forgiveness is not necessary in heaven, and there is no forgiveness in hell. This proves that there is another state after death, and the Church for 2,000 years has called this state purgatory. – I would suggest that your example here if you would pardon me is a poor choice. I don’t see anything to do with purgatory here but again in the context of scripture, this is everything to do with calling an obvious and clear work of the Holy Spirit (God) a work of Beelzebub. Jesus is kind of saying, if you can be that far gone, where you will equate a work of God as a work of the devil in order to justify your position, what are the chances of repentance? How will you be saved?

    4. Luke 12:47-48 – when the Master comes (at the end of time), some will receive light or heavy beatings but will live. This state is not heaven or hell, because in heaven there are no beatings, and in hell we will no longer live with the Master…..- In context this is a Master talking to his servant when he arrives to take ownership of his money/property. In this case it is referring to people who know him and his will and as V46 indicates warns of the loss of salvation to those who carry on living their life the old way rather than the way they have been called. Likewise as 47 and 48 refer to the degree of punishment that people will receive for failing to live up to his calling. The more knowledge you have of the Masters will, the more you will suffer loss for rebelling. If you do not know the masters will, there will be less punishment, but he is still referring to His servants. not others. So this could also be a picture of purgatory or Judgement.
    Now, as i have said, i am not convinced totally of purgatory, but i am not totally against the idea as it can be supported to a degree. But i still see it always referring to individuals we today would classify as Christian.

    I can’t think of any scripture off hand and in context that says none Christians go to purgatory or have any firm hope of forgiveness and will be in heaven.

    Even the Rich man and Lazarus is about a Jew so that cannot be applied to an none Christian in context. At best it applies to a Christian who loses his salvation.
    Even in Rmns, as paul progresses through his argument about salvation through faith by Grace, he always negates any hope for the none Christian by saying that the law of conscience would end up condemning them as he sums up in Ch3 that there are no one righteous and all have fallen short of the Glory of God. Without Christ we are dead.

    So, where does that take us? What about Muslims, because that is ultimately what we are talking about here with osama. Have you ever considered that from their teaching they have received in islam they have indirectly heard the gospel; regardless if given by a Christian? I ask because the Gospel can be drawn out from the statements of faith that their religion demands. There strongest statements are always made in relationship to Christianity. For example: God has no son – by default this must mean that Christians believe that God has a son. God is one not many – by default they are refuting the Trinity, so they do actually know what they are rejecting indirectly. The will be others im sure. You could argue this about atheist. It is in what they reject that implies they know the Gospel even without ever receiving formal education on the topic.

    If that is the case they can never say that they didnt know.

  • Peter

    Purgatory is not just for the forgiveness of unconfessed venial sin, but is also temporal punishment for sin which has been confessed and forgiven during one’s lifetime.

  • Jim

    Please bear in mind, paulpriest, that many Catholics and many American Catholics, supported the war in Iraq which came as a result of 9/11, even when Blessed John Paul II condemned the war. So it seems Catholic moral teaching, and morality in general, can be pushed to one side if it means “getting” the terrorists. There is a view out there that they do not deserve justice or proper judicial procedure. Osama’s murder was wrong – what he did was wrong, but two wrongs do not make a right: his crimes do not mean we discard the law to get him – that is vengence and it is a sin. But that is unpopular, and anyone who holds the view is unpopular because, you see, we are supposed to see Osama as an exeception. That’s the very argument the pro-abortion lobby use. Ironic, isn’t it?

  • Anonymous

    right – but it is more complicated than that – hence His Holiness emphasising the purgation of not merely our sins but the clearing of our clouded recognition of those sins and the realisation of the consequences from an eternal perspective – the graces we’ve precluded from ourselves and occluded from others – the ‘scandal’ of them – but also remember the punishment has already begun – foreshadowed in our Earthly existence within the deprivation of grace

  • Buster

    Scourge of God?
    A few days before this man was killed I saw a photograph of him. I sensed a very profound solitude and weariness in his soul. When I heard of his death I remembered it and felt he mysteriously handed his own life back to God, in an act of humility and for the reparation of his past. But also accepting gratefully the way out the Father offered him completely hidden from the sight of those he had led astray. Perhaps he died as a son of God and has ‘escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowler’, from the net of ignorance, hate and error in which he had (till his death) been unknowingly doing the work of the evil one. However, at the same time that means he would undoubtedly in a certain way become a source of grace for whatever cause was most dearly held in his heart, in its essential innocence. My guess is that is bad news for a western civilization which appears to be increasingly turning away from God. As Gamaliel warned in the Missal last week ‘beware lest you find yourself fighting against God’.

  • Thomas M.P., India

    God has given life and God alone has the right to take it, however bad a
    man is. If he is too dangerous for society at large, he should be
    segregated from society and confined to some place where he cannot harm
    any one. Moreover constant efforts should be made to reform him.

    Good and evil are present everywhere in varying degrees. Good and evil are present in each one of us in varying degrees.

  • Anonymous

    “What would have been the point (if it had been possible) of taking Bin
    Laden alive and then giving him a long drawn-out trial, with its
    predictable verdict, followed by life imprisonment, probably in solitary
    confinement, to protect him from the violent reprisals of other

    As Catholics, we do not take a utilitarian attitude towards morality – i.e. ask what is the point? We ask, what does God teach? In this case, what does God teach about killing defenceless people?

  • Peter

    I agree that temporal punishment in purgatory is mitigated by temporal suffering on earth.

    When a person is killed in cold blood by secular forces, either lawfully or unlawfully, and if that person is not in a state of mortal sin, then the temporal punishment he would have to undergo in purgatory is mitigated by the premature deprivation of his life by execution and any suffering which accompanies it.

    The question is whether Bin Laden was in a state of mortal sin. Objectively it would seem so, but we can never know in this life.

  • カソリック

    Good grief…Wikipedia!? That’s your source? As of today, that article has been edited over 500 times with quotes attributed to individuals who have changed their stories almost daily. Perhaps it has been edited over a thousand times, but Wikepedia only tracks the last 500 edits.  Which version of “the details of what happened” are you depending on for your accusation that I have entered the fantasy realms of speculation and worse yet, that someone committed murder?

    Here’s a suggestion: Go to your Wikipedia reference and simply edit the facts as you wish them to be. For example, “Bin Laden was peacefully grooming kittens and preparing a surrender speech when his door was suddenly broken down by U.S. Navy SEALs. As he offered tea and crumpets to his visitors, he was mercilessly shot down in cold blood.”  That will stand until somebody comes along and decides that Bin Laden wasn’t grooming kittens, but rather furry bunny rabbits. And it wasn’t tea, but black coffee.  In any case, rather than acknowledging that neither you nor I, nor anyone (except those who were there, and certainly not Obama) know exactly what happened or what the mindset of the shooter was, you can refer to your Wikipedia edit as evidence that Bin Laden was murdered either with or without kittens.  That way you won’t have to acknowledge that anybody who disagrees with you might actually have a cogent point worthy of consideration. You can simply pretend that you know, because you read it on that granite rock of objectivity – Wikipedia.

    Seriously, don’t ever play the Wikipedia-as-a-source card. It’s like referencing the third drunk on the right passed out in the gutter. Nobody serious person will ever take you seriously again, especially when your entire argument and a whole string of dismissive comments you have issued depend on you being correctly informed.

    Incidently, I was not commenting on Francis Phillips’ article. I was commenting on your reckless accusation of murder when you do not have the facts, as you have once again illustrated. Some would call this libelous and uncharitable. I call it cheap, since your life was not directly at risk in apprehending or killing Bin Laden, and his declared target was not your neighborhood. You didn’t feel your heart pounding in your chest or the sweat dripping from your brow as you thought about all the things that could go wrong and prevent you from ever seeing your family again. You didn’t have a known killer in your gunsights and weren’t burdened with deciding whether to apprehend or shoot in the fraction of a second before Bin Laden could grab a human shield and cause innocent loss of life, or before he could grab a weapon and cause you to lose your own life. You risked nothing, but gained a safer world, yet you feel entitled to accuse someone of a very serious sin. Again, I suspect you have never served in the military or done police work and do not realize how difficult it is to safely apprehend an armed and dangerous person without loss of life. It is especially difficult at night and greatly complicated when you have to infiltrate an unfriendly foreign country to do so. Your dismissive nature of the challenge that these men had to overcome and their relative success at preserving life is, frankly, offensive. 

    Pakistan has nukes. PRNK has nukes and is actively marketing them. Iran is very close to having nukes. Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were actively seeking nukes to use against the U.S. and her allies. If Bin Laden had next decided to target the Vatican and the Holy Father with nuclear weapons, would you sit on your hands for fear of having to kill him in order to stop him? You seem to be unfamiliar with the necessary ugliness of war, and yet Christ did not command the soldier to lay down his arms. Perhaps our Lord recognized something you do not. It is easy to say that Bin Laden is your brother, but what about the SEAL who was ordered to apprehend him? Is he less your brother because he managed to live? You have accused him, without knowledge of fact, of committing the crime of murder when his crime seems to have been only to preserve his own life.  You have good intentions, but your crime is one of being willfully naive at the very least.

  • Anonymous

     You’re wrong.