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I will pray for Gaddafi on All Souls’ Day

The treatment of Gaddafi’s corpse was a disgrace – and now he is with God we can pray for him, as we pray for all the dead

By on Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Thank goodness that Gaddafi has now been buried, and thank goodness the shameful and awful spectacle of his corpse on public display in a meat storage plant is now over. It went on too long, five days too long.

The treatment of the dead Colonel Gaddafi reminded me rather of the treatment of another fallen dictator, Benito Mussolini, whose body, along with that of other fascist gerarchi, and that of his mistress Claretta Petacci, was exposed in Piazzale Loreto, Milan, where it was subjected to public insult. The choice of Piazzale Loreto for this was in revenge for the shooting of fifteen partisans by the Fascists in the same square the summer before. Their bodies too had been exposed. In general, Italians pay great respect to the dead, and the events in Piazzale Loreto do not reflect well on either the Italian Left or the Italian Right. In fact the treatment of Mussolini’s body must have been seen very rapidly as a disgraceful act, for his corpse, after several adventures, was eventually given to the family and provided with proper Christian burial.

Mussolini did a lot of bad things, as did Gaddafi, but one should not grudge him a proper burial, which is surely the right of every human being, and that includes Gadaffi too.

It is soon going to be the month of November, and burial and death are much on my mind. Let us remember that the burial of the dead is one of the corporal works of mercy. Thus by going to a funeral, one gains merit with Almighty God, quite apart from exercising charity to one’s neighbour in expressing solidarity with the bereaved.

November is also the time to visit graves, the graves, in particular, of those one has known, or members of one’s family, but the graves of strangers too. The visiting of graves and the blessing of cemeteries is in fact a pious Catholic custom, and one that is to be preserved. Moreover, to visit a cemetery within the octave of All Souls earns a plenary indulgence, under the normal conditions, applicable to a soul in Purgatory. Likewise, a visit to a church on the feast of All Souls itself will gain a plenary indulgence, likewise under the normal conditions, also applicable to a soul in purgatory. There is a complete and helpful list of all indulgenced acts here.

One can only gain one plenary indulgence a day. This is a relatively recent ruling. In one of novels making up Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy (I cannot remember which) Guy Crouchback encounters a fellow Catholic darting in and out of church, pausing on the pavement between ‘visits’, who explains “I always like to do thirty.” These days one can only do one. I myself will certainly try to do one, and I will leave it up to God, as I usually do, as to which soul in purgatory benefits. I am sure that lots of Catholics around the world will be doing the same, though sadly, not as many as once did.

I will certainly be praying for all the dead on the 2nd November, and saying at least two Masses that day (one can say three). Among those dead Gadaffi will be remembered. May God, who is so good, be good to him too.

  • http://twitter.com/PJTPOOAM Thomas Poovathinkal

    ANY ONE WHO LOVES THE SON OF GOD AND BELIEVES IN HIM MUST PRAY FOR ALL WITHOUT ANY

    EXCEPTION, FOR GOD IN JESUS HIS SON WANTS TO SAVE ALL! HAS HE NOT GIVEN US EXAMPLE BY

    PRAYING FOR THOSE WHO KILLED HIM? JESUS IS THE ONLY VIRTUAL CIRCLE AS AGAINST ALL

    MEN WHO ARE VICIOUS CIRCLES.

    BY IMITATING AND FOLLOWING JESUS’ EXAMPLE WE BECOME TRULY CHRISTIAN.

    HISTORICAL ENEMITY OF SOME CHRISTIANS AGAINST MUSLIMS IS AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST

    THE SON OF GOD – SAVIOUR OF ALL.

    CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS WHO ARE FIXED IN THEIR INHERITED MINDSET ARE SPIRITUALLY

    IDIOTIC AND ARE HARMING THE CAUSE OF CHRIST THE LORD. WHY DO THEY THINK CHRISTIANITY

    IS LOSING GROUND ALL OVER THE WORLD? IT IS BECAUSE OF THESE LEADERS’ (WHO CLAIM

    THAT THEY INHERITED THE OFFICES OF THE APOSTLES BUT ARE NOT APOSTLES THEMSELVES IN

    PRACTICE) BAD EXAMPLE.

  • Diffal

    Gaddafi is now ‘with God’? possible yes, but I leave canonisations to the church and her magisterium. I will certainly pray for him, that God will be merciful but we won’t know for sure where he ended up this side of the grave.

  • Reno

    It’s appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgement. At Gaddafi’s death, he was instantly in hell paying for his sin. See the rich man “In hell he lifted up his eyes”.

  • Emma

    Only God alone has the authority to judge each of our souls. Remember we must not despair and neither must we be presumptuous too. All souls that are not beatified/canonised are in need of our prayers. Jesus forgave the repentant thief as he hang on the cross, who knows, but there is always hope that Gadaffi repented. We must pray for him all the more. Jesus forgave his enemies and we must forgive our enemies and imitate Christ. It is not easy of course but we need the Holy Spirit in our souls to live in Christ. Veni Sancte Spiritus!

  • http://twitter.com/RCYouthWorker Jack Regan

    When the Roman catacombs were excavated in the 19th Century, the explorers were amazed to find murals on the wall depicting Christ carrying on his shoulders a lost… goat. Yes, that’s right, a goat. Not a sheep, but one of those who turned away and lived a bad life. The hope of their salvation too was seemingly strong among the early Christians.

    Somebody said to me once that we can’t put any limits whatsoever on the love and mercy of God. They’re right, of course. God’s love will always surprise us. I wouldn’t call myself a universalist, because the same wise man went on to remind me that we also don’t have the right to say that sin has no consequences. We trust and hope in God’s mercy – as a hope and a prayer, but not a presumption. As another smart guy once said to me, the salvation of all is the great prayer of the Church.

  • Damo Lennon

    Thank you for this article. No matter what Gaddaffi did in his life, I cannot help but feel uneasy about the manner of his death. I will pray for him too. 

  • Rio22
  • Anonymous

    Is it only canonisation that puts us ‘with God’?   What is the feast of All Saints about..?