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Prelates welcome, regret news of Osama bin Laden’s death

Catholic World News - May 02, 2011

The Vatican offered a sober reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden, with the director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, noting that the Al Qaida leader "was was gravely responsible for promoting division and hatred between peoples, causing the death of countless innocent lives, and of exploiting religions to this end."

The Vatican spokesman continued:

A Christian never takes pleasure from the fact of a man's death, but sees it as an opportunity to reflect on each person's responsibility, before God and humanity, and to hope and commit oneself to seeing that no event become another occasion to disseminate hate but rather to foster peace.

Asian prelates differed sharply in their reactions to the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda and mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Philippine Bishop Martin Jumoad of Isabela--a city on the Muslim-majority island of Basilan--welcomed the news, calling it a “triumph of good over evil.” The death of Osama “will weaken the Abu Sayyaf group here in Basilan, because Abu Sayyaf leaders have been claiming they are being supported by al-Qaeda,” he said, referring to the Islamist separatist group. “I hope Bin Laden’s cohorts here will dwindle and Basilan will finally enjoy peace and security.”

On the other hand, Father Babu Joseph, spokesman for India’s bishops, expressed regret at the news.

Bin Laden “could have reformed himself by shunning the path of violence and terrorism and begun a new life of reconciliation and peace,” Father Joseph said. “The Church never endorses violence or associates with violence.”

“Violence perpetrated by religion is never acceptable to any civilized society,” he added.

In Pakistan, where bin Laden was killed, retired Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore feared Christians would face reprisals but expressed cautious optimism that his death would become an important turning point.

“We [Pakistani Christians] are soft target, as they cannot attack America,” he said. “We demand security; the government should control any retaliation.”

“At last we have hope that things will get better gradually,” added Archbishop Saldanha, who was ordained a bishop on 9/11. “Many looked on bin Laden as a hero of the Islamic revolution. But he was a role model of extremism and a threat to world peace. His death will change the complexion and decentralize as well as demystify extremism.”

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  • Posted by: tony2311 - May. 03, 2011 11:00 PM ET USA

    Regardless of what bin Laden had done, it was shameful for the President to authorise a "shoot to kill" mission. This is plain murder by vigilantes, with the instigators looking on via TV screens like a sick video game. By disregarding due process, the USA has forever lost any moral high ground it may have had. It cannot complain if foreign helicopters now land on the Whitehouse roof gunning for the President. What part of "Thou shalt not kill" does Obama not understand?

  • Posted by: nedinme - May. 02, 2011 6:02 PM ET USA

    I wonder if Father Babu Joseph would feel the same way if his family were killed on 9/11? Yes,Bin Laden “could have reformed himself by shunning the path of violence and terrorism and begun a new life of reconciliation and peace,” but how long would we have to put up with Bin Laden's terrorist activities while we wait for him to reform himself? Bin Laden got what he deserved.

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