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Gaddafi’s death was barbaric. In this case, though, all the alternatives were worse

A lynch-mob is a frightful thing. But just as William Hague was right to say that we don’t approve of extra-judicial killings, is a judicial killing in cold blood any better?

By on Friday, 21 October 2011

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed yesterday by rebel forces. Abd Rabbo Ammar/ABACA/Press Association Images

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed yesterday by rebel forces. Abd Rabbo Ammar/ABACA/Press Association Images

“Even a man like Gaddafi didn’t deserve to die in the way that he did”. That or something like it was John Simpson’s judgment on Gaddafi’s lynching by the fighters who captured him. The NTC was soon giving a more sanitised account (presumably for the benefit of Western opinion): Mahmoud Jibril, the acting Libyan Prime Minister, claimed on Thursday night that Gaddafi was caught in the crossfire as he was being taken in an ambulance to be treated for his wounds, and died from a bullet wound in his head. But that wasn’t the story of the increasing number of fragments of shaky phone video footage that as the afternoon wore on were being relayed by BBC and Sky news channels, footage which, as soon as the unconfirmed story that he had been captured was broadcast I began watching, mesmerised by the unfolding story.

He was shot in cold blood, said one disapproving commentator: actually, he was killed in hot blood: the fragment of telephone footage which finally confirmed that it was indeed Gaddafi and not someone else who had died, showed a feverish and violent scene. The Times report got it right: “Badly injured but conscious, the former dictator, 69, was bundled on to the bonnet of a pick-up truck, his shirt stripped from his torso and his body dragged along the ground… his bloody end came at the hands of the angry mob of fighters who recorded his last moments on video”. It was not an enviable death, certainly. But was John Simpson right, that nobody deserves such a death? Well, we can certainly agree with William Hague’s statement, that we do not approve of extra-judicial killings. But if ever a man deserved a violent death, it was Gaddafi: “those who live by the sword shall die by the sword”: Gaddafi stayed in power by putting tens of thousand of his own people to the sword, often after prolonged torture: it is hard to argue that he did not deserve the death he died: it may have been violent, but at least it was quick.

But it was not the death the NTC claims it wanted for him: what they wanted was a calm judicial process in which his crimes would have been rehearsed, probably over a period of months, followed almost certainly by his execution. That is what we all in the West say should have happened: that or (better perhaps for those who like myself are convinced and immovable opponents of the death penalty) for him to be sent off to the Hague to be put through an even longer judicial process, in which he would have been kept in comfortable and civilised quarters and given every opportunity to emulate Slobodan Milosevich in delivering endless harangues and to address directly his own supporters in Libya, perpetuating the country’s divisions in a way which would have made very difficult the national reconciliation that is now desperately needed.

There were five possibilities for Gadaffi’s future. The first and least desirable of all was for him to disappear into the desert, to become the anti-hero of a national myth; possibly in alliance with desert tribes who could have helped him mount a destabilising insurgency, possibly for years to come; the second was a trial in Libya; the third was a trial in the Hague; the fourth was a courageous death in battle; the fifth was what actually happened: the ignominous death of a coward in flight, summarily executed by his captors. Of all these possibilities, it seems to me that what actually happened was the least undesirable. The Hague and the desert for the reasons I have given; a courageous death in battle because it would he given rise to romantic myths of a lost but noble leader, which would have been cherished by his own people. As for what we might call the Saddam Hussein option, a trial followed by death at the end of a noose, it makes me shudder to think of it: that, indeed, would have been a killing in cold blood (its effect in Iraq was disastrous). His end was barbaric and uncivilised; all the same, repugnant in every way though his death was, it was better than any of the other options. There are situations in which there is no desirable option: and this was one of them.

  • anon

    Shame on on for condoning this – especially as a Catholic commentator. Taking all possibilities into account, trial at The Hague was the only sensible option. It would have provided the victims and their relatives who were affected by his rule to possibly gain closure. A chance to ask questions surrounding the controversies. A chance to hear his versions. A chance to provide justice and a just sentence.

    Instead we are left – just like with Bin Laden, with unanswered questions and a man who is martyred.

  • Bax

    I find it absolutely astonishing that a professed catholic writing in a catholic paper could write an article like this.

    Gadaffi was a sinner: that is unquestionable.  But so am I.  And so are you Mr Oddie.  The whole point of the Christian religion is that we are forgiven sinners and do not “get what we deserve” at the hands of God and are then expected to deal with similar generosity to others.

    At the risk of sounding pompous I humbly suggest that you prayerfully consider what you have written in this article in the light of the Cross or Our Lord.

  • Anonymous

    I personally think his overthrow, as with that of Saddam Hussein and as of Mubarak, will not prove to be a boon for Christians. He may have been mad, but he was a mad secularist, and he kept Islamism in check.

  • Anonymous

    Et tu Brute?

    Over recent months we’ve had Francis Phillips justify the the execution of nazi war criminals and Osama Bin Laden; Fr ALS equivocated on Osama Bin Laden’s execution; Milo Yiannopoulos declared proudly his advocacy for Capital punishment…

    …and now you Doctor Oddie.

    Why make any attempt to ‘make do’ or whitewash the scandalous actions of fallen humanity on their neighbour.

    Irrespective of who Gadaffi was and what he did: He didn’t deserve this – that’s the point!
    We aspire to be better than this; lest we all become monsters.

    Now I acknowledge your strong opposition to Capital Punishment…
    [let's be accurate on the terminology shall we - Death penalty is an equivocation of deprivation of life for self-defence of the state - and even though self-sefence is the only justifiable reason in Catholic moral theology - this never IS self-defence so it reverts to simple execution as punishment - ergo it becomes the laetae sententiae crime of judicial murder]

    …but to make any attempt to mitigate this to the fates or submit it to providence that ‘maybe it was for the best; and significantly better than other alternatives?’…

    …Scandalises us all!

    The Church teaches absolutely unequivocally that the dignity of the human individual is inviolate – Romans 8:19-32, Councils of Arles, Quiercy, Nancy, Valencia and Trent make it categorically clear – no sin can annihilate human dignity and that which that dignity affords…

    Gadaffi was our neighbour – a tragic, pitiable, deplorable, blood-soaked-in-mud tyrannical fool – but still our neighbour who must be treated accordingly. He was not.

    This death diminishes us all – we CANNOT for any reason treat it as a means to an end and declares the means  have led to better alternate outcomes – this man was made in God’s image – God deserves the dignity  of each and every one of  His children – be they e’er so despicable – being treated as ends in themselves.

    His execution was wrong – and let us always have the understanding to say it – let Heaven and earth fall – but let right be done…even when it comes to speaking of the death of this monster.

    I’m sorry Dr Oddie – I understand what you’re trying to say but unfortunately you’re simply the last in a line of comments one here which have been distinctly contrary to Catholic moral teaching on an issue of Life [yes I'll concede that yours is the least grave and definitely the most easily forgiven]

    But I’m getting a little sick of the Catholic Herald being so counter-evangelically irresponsible and negligent.

  • ms Catholic state

    These people have probably not heard of ‘Do unto others as you would be done’…..but we in the West have haven’t we?!  It’s the basis of how we treat political prisoners and captives.  And we cannot condone the shooting in cold blood of Gadaffi by people who could have held him and given him a trial.  I certainly wouldn’t have liked to have been treated like this.

  • Sue Sims

    I don’t think that commentators so far have actually read what Dr Oddie wrote. He’s not justifying killing Gaddafi, nor the death penalty; he’s looking at the possible consequences of the five options he’s listed, and regretfully concluding that, pragmatically, this may actually prevent worse things happening. And of course one agrees that the ‘Arab Spring’ everywhere is likely to prove a Christian winter – but Gadaffi’s death is irrelevant here, since he’d already been overthrown.

    And Bax sounds not merely pompous but Pharisaical, alas.

  • Zzzz

    The regime needed to be removed from power in favour of a democratic elected Government, but what occured yesterday was an execution by the rebels assisted by the NATO strike on Ghadafis convoy. He should have been brought to task in an international court as required by international law, not killed like an animal.

  • ms Catholic state

    By standard age-old Christian principles….Gadaffi should have been kept prisoner and put on trial in a humane way.  Not just shot point blank by his captors.

  • ms Catholic state

    But I guess our government isn’t following Christian principles anymore.  Sad really.

  • Anonymous

    I hardly think he was condoning it. He said it was the least worst option. What closure has been gained from the trials at the Hague? The defendants live very comfortably and are given a podium from which to spew their evil. The Milosevic trial was a disgrace. Awful as it was to see at least Libya can know move on, out of Gadaffi’s shadow.

  • Anonymous

    Yet until recently the Church was a firm supporter of the death penalty and even now it’s an issue for the individual conscience of each catholic.

  • Guest

    Recently, people seem to be so very eager to descend into barbarism under the guise of “justice”. Justice is not simple revenge. Being slaughtered like a beast is not justice. No matter the crimes he has committed, he should never have been executed in this manner. Rather than bring him to trial, they have been quite cruel. How long, i wonder, will it be before the new government starts committing unjust deeds of their own?

  • Minona

    Bizarre!!! They were shouting and screaming like wild animals! I was told that they actually bummed Gaddifi’s dead body and then ate bits of him, including his liver and eyes!

  • Anonymous

    NO – IT ISN’T!!!

    Capital punishment is an excommunicable offence.
     The execution of a securely incarcerated prisoner who bears no immediate direct threat to the community is judicial murder.

    Recourse to a ‘Death Penalty’ – which is justified in Catholic moral teaching – ONLY pertains to the taking of the life of an immediate, direct, lethal, unjust aggressor in self-defence of either the individual, community or state.

    Since the time of the Catechism of Trent – even while the Church advocated that the state had the right to defend itself and could , as St Paul says [reiterated by St Augustine] wield the sword [in that defence]

    ..execution was NEVER DEEMED AS A PUNISHMENT – it was rather a personal sacrifice and expiation for the good of society and the repentance of the criminal. The person was a risk to the security of the state and therefore was giving themselves back to God.

    As the Catechism states:

    Death is not a valid form of Punishment

    Now please do not make any attempt to aggravate your error by appealing to the contemptible [revisionist and erroneous] address to the USCCB by Avery Cardinal Dulles, or to Aquinas [who in his earlier work justified execution as the criminal was bestial] or to Pius XII [who declared those who had lost their humanity could be treated accordingly]  – as the councils I have mentioned above refute these positions – a human being CANNOT lose their human dignity through sin and become ‘inhuman or bestial’.

    The taking of another person’s life is ONLY ever permissible in self defence as a last resort against their direct, immediate unjust lethal aggression.

    Personal conscience has NOTHING to do with this…

  • W Oddie

    I suggest you read it again: I didn’t say what you appear to think i said.

  • W Oddie

    I DIDN’T CONDONE IT!!!!   Read it for heavens sake.

  • W Oddie

    This is a total distortion of what i said. you know it, perfectly well, or should. So I won’t even bother to argue with you.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry Sue but I did indeed read what Dr Oddie said and I understand the ‘pragmatic concerns’ but it doesn’t make it anything but intrinsically morally disordered to suggest that any scenario which includes a death is a better paradism than a living alternative – even the ‘going back in ime and killing the infant Hitler’ propostion.

    Isn’t one Caiaphas one too many?

  • Anonymous

    No it’s not – and you know it – you’re not condoning any of it but you’re publicly declaring that it’s [pragmatically speaking] the best result for everyone [however regrettable].

    You’re doing what Caiaphas did.

    Call it situationism or utilitarianism – your response is not the Catholic one.

  • Raimo Kangasniemi

    A fair trial can’t be worse than murder of wounded, unarmed prisoners like Muammar and Mutassim Gaddafi. A person who claims otherwise has taken a dangerous path.

  • Anonymous

    “Capital punishment is an excommunicable offence.”

    ## That is not what the CCC says at paragraph 2565. And how can something the Holy See was defending just 60 years ago, and retained for its own governance until 1969, be excommunicable ?  If it was permissible for the Church to take the life of those convicted of crime in the past, and to put people to death, and to defend the rightness of DP against objections, then it easy equally right now. What St. Pius V did, & Blessed Pius IX, as well as Popes not beatified or canonised, can hardly be an offence if carried out by others – let alone an offence that breaches communion with the Church. If it was not a sin in Pius IX and his predecessors for many centuries, it cannot be a sin now, let alone a sin that deserves excommunication. 

    The DP is not opposed to human dignity; though more than a few methods for executing it have been, and some still are. On the contrary, from a Christian POV, to take the life of a criminal in punishment for a serious crime implies that, despite what he has done, he is still a conscious & intelligent moral agent, able to distinguish between good and evil, whom it is appropriate to treat as such. To inflict the DP is a recognition of these things, not a denial of them. Capital punishment is fair only if it treats criminals as beings who have these qualities: ther are many categories of person whom it would be quite wrong to execute.

    The DP may not be *desirable* – but how can it be *wrong*, when it has been defended as right so often and by such a weight of authority of such a kind, and practiced as well as defended ? It is not a subject to which the Church gave attention only briefly, or a few times; the Church has been consistent for centuries in not rejecting it, and in defending it as just. Catholics cannot be expected to throw out a doctrine with such a history as though it were no more important than an old tissue. The Church has committed its moral authority far too often and far too deeply for that. And “Because the Church says so”, does not make  a course of believing or acting right, since a “command ethics” is too shallow a foundation for the teaching and practice of the Church to be satisfying. The DP is not right because the Church says it is – instead, the DP is right and just, and the Church witnesses to this rightness and justice by declaring that it it is right and just. More is at stake here even than the Church’s credibility.  

    “Personal conscience has NOTHING to do with this”

    ## That makes obedience to what is apprehended – wrongly *or rightly* – as morally good, a less than fully human act; it makes such acts less than human & therefore a contradiction of the authentically and fully human life to which all called by being “in Christ”.  Conscience has everything to do with this.

  • theroadmaster

    Whatever the crimes committed by Ghadaffi, he did not deserve to die in such a barbaric and undignified fashion. Then we had the unedifying spectacle of unedited pictures of the dead body of the dictator plastered across the tabloids in a gloating manner.  A judicial trial at the Hague would have been the best option, whatever it’s drawbacks concerning drawn-out procedures and comfortable quarters for the suspect.  All despots who indulge in the massacre and oppression of the citizens deserve nothing more than to be brought to book with the full rigor of international law.  Some would have preferred to have Ghadaffi tried by a judicial court in Libya and then sentenced to an appointed meeting with the hangman.  Although we should not dictate to overseas nations how to run their penal systems, we should shudder when we consider how the resort to judicial execution metaphorically leaves us blind, as it relies on the “eye for an eye” mentality.   

    The countries who in the West who propped up the Ghadaffi regime through it’s blood-soaked era, must be collectively breathing a sigh of relief due to the fact that the unpalatable secrets  that they don’t want made public, will remain buried with the dictator unless records turn up somewhere else to reveal them.

  • Oconnordamien

    I’m with W.O. on this. Much as I may disagree with his opinions, he is rarely wrong on facts. Gadaffi’s violent end was inevitable. This was a violent revolution without Western troops to dampen it’s excesses. And before anyone would claim that catholics would in some way behave better… well look at the death of Mussolini..

  • Anonymous

    …and yet again the error is made – Pius V & X did NOT justify Capital Punishment – they justified a Death penalty by which the state defended itself and reparation was made by the executed – in accordance with the prevailing teaching – the conclusions at which they arrive are not magisterial – the principles remain valid  [except of course the precept of Hebrews that there is but ONE sacrifice - and any other sacrifice of life for reparation is superfluous and contrary to the divine will - but that's a side-issue]
    Pius IX awkwardly reduced Just War principles to the individual in that by their crimes they had declared war against their neighbour and could be treated accordingly [different remit - NOT Punishment].
    In the past millennium ONLY two popes have decreed Capital Punishment – as Punishment – and their declarations are magisterially invalidated as private administrative ‘doxic’ [and morally disordered] decrees – Innocent III against the Cathars and Leo X against the Lutherans.

    Do you see the whole argument?
    Take the apologetic route.

    The state has a right to wield the sword in its own defence is the fundamental moral issue.

    Since the dawn of the Church any state which exacted death without an appeal to its own defence was condemned as guilty of judicial murder – its present in pre-Constantinian Fathers and inherent within the monastic moral writings of the 5th to 8th centuries [even when they called for the death penalty for those who used contraception it was justified as being a lethal threat to future generations and the society in which they dwelled as a corrupting force - they even prohibit a [deserved] punishment for the grave sin they committed against God and their forebears – in their view even though they deserved to be punished with death the precept of  ‘vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord’ countermanded this and they had to fall back on calling for their death as their being a risk to their community]

    Do you get it yet?
    Constantly reverberating throughout this are two principles

    a] the execution only justifiable in defence
    b] execution for any other reason is judicial murder – and judicial murder is a crime from pre-Abrahamic times – from the Noakitic law – to today where it is designated as a latae sententiae excommunicable offence. [Ironic how people are very aware of the penalty for abortion in canon 1398 but 'forget' the precepts of canon 1397]

    Now parasum the ‘personal conscience’ used by Jonathan has nothing to do with an informed conscience – Jonathan was misusing the words to appeal to ‘an open issue whereby one may use one’s personal discretion and discernment’ – when I dismissed this alleged paradigm [and please remember this sort of situationist construction was formulated during the US elections when discredited Archbishop rembert Weakland LIED about the contents of His Eminence Joseph Ratzinger's letter to the US Bishops [where he stated abortion was the priority in electoral scrutiny - Weakland perverted this message to 'a matter of personal conscience']… I was not referring to appeals to conscience from a fundamental moral theological perspective where all vices and virtues are wrought; but rather Jonathan’s dismissive ‘it’s up to individual opinion’ enthymemic sentiment.

    Yes – Catholic teaching on a Death Penalty stands – under the eternal provision that it MUST be solely and critically in defence of either individual, community or state – wielding the sword just as both St Paul & St Augustine decree. [n.b. there's also a document where Pius XI refers to the abhorrence of death as a detetrrent to others as gravely sinful - but I can't remember where it is]

    The present situation of state executions DO NOT FALL into that categorisation [as the CCC maintains when it refers to modern forms of incarceration making such justification almost impossible]

    What is occurring in the world today – especially in the US – is Capital Punishment – and that is not the removal of a threat to the state but is rather merely an act of revenge upon them for non-defensive reasons – and that makes it judicial murder – which is – I repeat – an excommunicable offence.

    Might I also remind you that the two main justifications used for Capital Punishment [the Summa  Theologiae & the statement of Pius XII] – the criminals having become bestial or inhuman [and remember these arguments are dogmatically invalid anyway] – BOTH St Thomas and Pius XII later decree the contrary [In Aquinas' ratio sanans and Pius XII's later qualification both concurred that those deserving death were to be left for God to deal with - NOT human agencies - both in later years seem to have acknowledged the significance of the mark of Cain]

    Understand the underlying principle – the state – like the community and the individual – has a right to defend itself…ergo it wields a sword in its defence and eliminates all threats to it – even by exacting death.

    But Death as a punishment – is invalid – and anyone who actuates it sins gravely.

  • irishsmile

    I don’t think that civilized people/Catholics/Christians can ever rationalize such a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions.  Quaddafi was despotic scum!  That being said, the rule of civilized law must always be the guide.  When will another group of anti-government street fighters in whatever country somewhere decide to execute, without trial, some other leader or deposed leader?  Anarchy is never the answer.  America is seeing her share of out-of-control mobs… & mob decisions and actions are invariably violent and contribute to more anarchy.

  • irishsmile

    I would disagree with you a bit.  I suspect that Quadaffi did, in fact, deserve it.  An ordered society that has legal  Capitol Punishment has a statutory right to  stop a monster like Hitler, Stalin or Quadaffi. My argument with what has taken place is not that Quadaffi didn’t necessarily deserve being eliminated, it’s that there was an horrific violation of the Geneva Conventions.

  • Jjpepe

    I agree with Bax. Shame on you Oddie.

  • Oncledave23

    Indeed Gadhafi was a killer,what about those who killed him?aren’t they killers i don’t think the way he died,you can’t even kill a dog the way they killed and they have no dignity they exposed him,it’s like they do not have humanity in their lives,don’t celebrate when someone is dead even if he was your enemy because now he is gone!!what about you who are left?libyians have to think about their future because it’s going to be hard.are the jobless going to be paid as Gadhafi paid them when they hadn’t Jobs?let’s wait and see time will tell.

  • Thomas M.P., India

    God has given life and God alone has the power and authority to take it. A criminal, however hardened, should be given an opportunity to be reformed. We should pray for the victims who died a violent death at the hands of hard-crore criminals. Living victims should be helped by us using all possible means. But the perpetrators of crime and violence and atrocities should always be given a fair trial and we should try our best to reform them. If they are dangerous to society they should be segregated from society and confined to some place where they cannot harm people. At the same time they should be allowed to live with dignity and all efforts should be made to reform them. But, no human being has the power or authority or right to deliberately take the life of another, because life is a gift of God and not our creation.

  • anon

    Ok apologies – you may not be condoning it. I was going over the top there.

     But as paulpriest says below, you are suggesting that it is the best result for everyone and that is the wrong message. Not the Catholic message.

    The only people that this is the best result for are the western governments that supported him throughout his rule!

  • David Lindsay

    No serious person, by definition, thinks that Libya had anything to do with Lockerbie. The Americans were arming the IRA at exactly the same time as Gaddafi was, and, moreover, they were throwing almost incomparably more political weight behind that organisation, to incomparably more eventual effect. The present Coalition was as bad as Blair for sucking up to Gadaffi.
    And the synthesis of Islamism and what passes for Socialism in lands unblessed by the synthesis of Radical Liberalism, Tory populism, Christian Socialism, Catholic Social Teaching and Distributism, and other such entirely non-Marxist influences, is in fact the position of numerous individual and collective seceders to David Cameron’s Conservative Party, one of whom is now a rising star of the 2010 intake to the House of Commons.
    So, what now? Torture, already very much in operation. Sharia Law, likewise. The expulsion of the Italian and Maltese Catholics. And the genocide, both of the admittedly very scarce Copts, and of the extremely numerous black Africans.
    As Peter Hitchens wrote last month:
    Somehow we’re being sold the idea that the Blair-Brown regime sucked up to Colonel Gaddafi, but our current Government kept their distance. This is false. Archives reveal that the ‘Minister for Africa’, Henry Bellingham slurped up to the Colonel (referring to him as ‘Brother Leader’) at an EU-Africa Summit in Tripoli on November 30, 2010. A few weeks before, another Minister, Alastair Burt, told the Libyan British Business Council that Libya had ‘turned a corner’ which ‘has paved the way for us to begin working together again’.
    Doesn’t it make you proud?

  • W Oddie

    Utterly contemptible. I won’t even bother to ask why you should think it justifiable to compare me with Caiaphas, or to treat with so little respect someone who is at least attempting honesty or to dismiss me effectively as a heretic. Who the hell are YOU, that you should take to yourself the right to do THAT? I shall know in future how just much attention to give your opinions. 

  • Yamblah

    How can you justify barbarism? Your reasoning is both morally and logically wrong. The point is that this type of barbarism should never be condoned, even if in one instance it may seem (to you) to be acceptable. First of all, even if you or anyone else had that type of power of reasoning to ascertain that it is the best alternative (which you don’t), it would still set a precedent and imply that this is an acceptable mode of behavior. Many have used  justifications to do barbarisms against their opponents. It almost always simply a justification for a violent tendency,

  • guest

    very well written shows deep understanding..

  • Guest

    As much as a tyrant as Gaddafi was he was still a human being. Nobody deserves a death like that, I am saddened that so many don’t have a problem with a murdered mans body being paraded across the media. The images sicken me. The behaviour of the western governments in particular in the whole libya affair has been despicable. When it suits them, they sell him arms, even though they know what he is (a brutal dictator) but that doesn’t matter once they get his money, then when it no longer suits them, they portray him as a boogeyman and take the high moral ground and use nato to act as the rebels airforce, who probably killed a huge amount of innocent civilians in the process, but again lets ignore that, that doesn’t matter as their are large oil contracts at the end of all this. This is what happens when you replace god with money. 

  • indian

    This lines says a lot, “those who live by the sword shall die by the sword”. He choose tons of people to kill by his sword and it was god who choose him. It may be cruel but that’s what he asked for in life. As a human – i pray may his soul find peace. 

  • Mike Gannon

    I agree. The end doesn’t justify the means.

  • Isabelle

     Murdering someone who has surrendered or torturing a prisoner
    and leaving him to bleed to death are not only against Christian
    principles, they are also against what even our disturbed secular
    culture acknowledges to be honourable.  Whether Mr. Oddie meant it in
    that way, the article does read like the writing of someone who (best
    case scenario) isn’t too distressed by the way Qaddafi died, and while I
    don’t necessarily agree with the names Mr. Oddie has been called, I do
    agree with those who have pointed out that it is not the Catholic
    response.  Lots of evil things have pragmatic upsides, but as Catholics we shouldn’t be the ones saying ‘yeah, it was wrong, but there’s a silver lining.’  We should be the ones gently reminding people that we must never do evil that good may come of it.


  • Adrian Johnson

    Most serious people here are speaking as Catholics from a Christian world-view.  Gadaffi lived and died in a Muslim milieu and a tribal culture. We project onto those who killed him ( in war, remember–he was armed when he was taken) our values and expectations, which are not theirs.  We may be good Christians, but we have no right to expect Western values (such as not killing prisoners) to inform these Muslims’ actions when they have taken an enemy who has murdered and tortured their families friends for 40 years. They have by Islamic standards done no wrong.  
    Mr Oddie simply wishes to point out that however lamentable Gadaffi’s end, it spared everyone a great deal of trouble in giving Gadaffi a fair and probably lengthy and expensive trial, and it is sanctimonious to pretend otherwise; South Africa’s “peace and reconciliation” boards only worked because all parties were grounded in Judaeo-Christian values which respect the idea of repentance and admit the possibility of sincere forgiveness.   Now that Lybia’s tyrant is gone, the West can try to present (hopefully by example) the standards and values of Europe and the civilized world to Libyans as worth adopting.  If Libya becomes a secular state like Turkey, this is possible.  It it adopts Sharia law, –not.  These considerations do not prevent us from praying for Gadaffi’s soul, as much as any of his victims. 

  • Anonymous

    Hey whoah! Slow down….YES..slow down and read what I actually wrote..who called you either a heretic or a Caiaphas?

    I most certainly did not – nor am I questioning your motives for your position [ I respect you too much to do that] and to be honest I’m pretty upset that you could think so little of me to think I’m judging you rather than your position.

    I’m not comparing you with Caiaphas – I’m comparing the objective equivocations used.

    …and you didn’t read what I said? – your contribution comes at the end of a succession of postings on the Herald where murder is being excused as a justifiable means to an end which because it either made people feel better or it led to neater, less-awkward consequences…

    I said you didn’t do that – your associates did – but even thought you in no way justified any of it – you resigned yourself to a conclusion that maybe it was for the best?

    ergo my anger at the circumstances and my desire to give you a shake – urging you – a hero -  to live up to your Chestertonian persona…despite being totally against the stances of your fellow Herald contributors – despite being appalled at the violence and barbarism..despite it all…you didn’t stick with it to the end..

    You’re completely wrong in your analysis of my motives and my accusations. I apologise unreservedly if I enraged you and made you believe I was making all manner of savage indictments against you by my inability to communicate. But I really wish you’d read what I said – I understood what you were saying but I was simply stating that we can’t do that…despite each and every one of us probably wanting to.

    be as honest as you wish – if i’d caught up with him I’d probably have wanted to stamp on his face until it melted into the sand…

    …but we can’t stay there…we can’t meander round the ‘honest pragmatic’  ponderings – instead we move on to the corporal work of mercy and bury the dead treating them with the dignity and justice they deserved and adjudicating on their death accordingly.

    Think what you want of me…but in no way was I suggesting what you think

  • Moontinsel

    This reply is not only for one person or people.  We will NEVER all believe the same, we will NEVER all follow the same religious path.  We are on this earth to choose a life, a path to follow, and to love one another.  Terror and tyranny from one single person is not acceptable.  I see this footage of a man killed, and yes, I understand that he also killed others, and it saddens me to think that our world has grown into a place of horrors that are inconceivable.  What has become of us, that we are judge and jury?  I try hard every day to really love, and it is such a challenge when there is so much hatred, greed, unwarranted crimes against humanity, and the separation of us all.  It is truly hard to breath anymore.  To watch the news has become a despicable thing.  I am a spiritual person, and I want to live my life peacefully, treat others with kindness, and never hurt a human being intentionally.  My most fervent wish is that everyone around the world could do the same.  To every person, ruler, king, queen, president, czar, etc., could you even imagine a life like that?????  In my humble opinion, Ghadafi should never have grown into the kind of power he wielded if that wielding meant the mindless killing of others who did not think the same way he did.  This reminds me a bit of Hitler and his crazed followers eager for POWER.  As human beings, we need to stop being led by others and follow our own hearts and values, and if someone in power says it’s not o.k., then address it peacefully over and over and over and over until a solution comes..  We have to stop letting people in charge of our countries batter us and force their own beliefs down our throats.  We have brains and we know how to use them.  If someone tells you every day that you have to eat dirt while they are enjoying ice cream, learn to step up and shout that this is not o.k.  I just don’t understand ANY country’s need to be the BIG GUY, THE SUPERPOWER, THE THREAT……it’s ugly and it causes others to judge us as a whole.  Stop this madness before the Divine Powers That Be does it for us.  I wish peace for our world, yet I fear that most laugh at the thought.  It COULD  happen.  Love and blessings to all good people.

  • Adrian Johnson

    “. . . but as Catholics we shouldn’t be the ones saying ‘yeah, it was wrong, but there’s a silver lining.’  –There you have it.  We  observe the facts of the situation, but in the name of Catholicism we are too nice to call a spade a spade for fear others might think we condone the evil which brings us to that situation ?  
    “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free –but it will make you damned uncomfortable first.” 
    I don’t know who first put the wry coda to St John’s statement, but it seems appropos here.  

  • Adrian Johnson

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but Libya wasn’t and at the present time isn’t a signatory to the Geneva Conventions,  QED: no violation thereof.  As I said elsewhere in this topic, half the people here are making the mistake of projecting their Judaeo-Christian standards on a country which doesn’t understand or subscribe to them.  That said, I am gratified to hear at least one radio interview this morning with a (Muslim) man present at Guadaffi’s death who said he tried to protect him so that he could stand trial. He spoke good English and I suspect that he was educated in Europe or England. 

  • Alcatraz_lives

    Nobody on the face of this earth has the right to take another persons life.  Two wrongs don’t make a right and by all means will never be in favour of death sentence / barbaric acts etc.  We do not have the right to take away each others’ lives. 

    When will people learn to live decently on this earth? People might argue that Gaddafi killed thousands of people but personally I feel that a life sentence in prison is always the best option in these situations.  Gaddafi had many contacts in organizations and dictators, he was a useful tool for dismantling corruption in other countries … so was Bin Laden as well as Saddam Hussein.  I terribly disagree with the notion of killing these individuals.  They were leaders nonetheless and their worth as living prisoners (in special security prisons) rather than dead bodies. On a side note I am not too sure that Bin Laden was killed though…

  • indian

    very true. But these are the people who did harm to the common man but not to the people who used them. 

  • indian

    It’s all people opinions here based on the horrible death of Gaddafi due to karma – deeds. But the fact is – no one has chosen birth or death on this earth. It’s all in the hands of God – how and when it take off.

  • David Lindsay

    The Islamic Republic has been proclaimed in Libya.

    And Tunisia looks set for rule by the Islamists of Ennahda and the Leninists of the PCOT.

    As if Tunisia were the European Parliament once Turkey has been let in, although there are already plenty of Leninists at Strasbourg.

    Or as if Tunisia were the brand spanking new Conservative Party of David Cameron, in which not only Islamists and Leninists, but those who attempt a Gaddafi-like synthesis of the two, are highly active, if not in the impotent shires, then certainly at the omnipotent centre.

  • Maryam

    It saddened me to see the images of a bloodied Gaddafi splashed across the cover of the NY Post. I can understand the heated fury that led to his death,  the anger that the Libyan people must have felt at being repressed for so long, but it sickens me to hear Hillary Clinton ask for Gaddafi “dead or alive”. The US government seemed to have no problems with Libya until it was suddenly “popular”

  • LocutusOP

    From your posts touching on Islam and Islamic countries I can deduce the following:
    - You are in favour of the war and continuing occupation of Afghanistan.
    - You were in favour of the war in Iraq and probably swallowed the 45-minut claim whole.
    - You would be in favour of a war against Iran.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    It seems to me that when you stick to theological issues you pretty much get it on point. When you venture into international politics, especially where Muslims are involved, you seem to turn into a hot-blooded patriot who has very little regard for Catholic teaching.

  • Anonymous

    “On a side note I am not too sure that Bin Laden was killed though… ”
    Which makes your opinion on anything extremely dubious.