Editor’s Note: This is a pastoral statement by Fr. Dan Beeman, pastor of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Norfolk, Virgina. It was originally published in his parish’s bulletin a week after the death of Osama bin Laden. Norfolk is home to some of the largest military installations in the world. Many US Navy SEALS and their families call Norfolk home. The statement below was written for that community, but we share it with you here in a broader context because we believe it is clearly expresses the relief and the burden most of us feel in our hearts regarding the death of Osama bin Laden.
As you are aware, the news has been constant since last Sunday when it was reported that the United States military had found and killed the terrorist Usama bin Laden. The Church is clear that we “do not delight in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 18:23) and that any death is not a part of God’s plan for us. Even more so, as Christians, the death of one who refused the love of God, the call of Christ, and the decency of man should be mourned more gravely since the reality of hell and eternal separation from God can never bring our delight and should not be our desire for anyone. Celebrating any death, particularly in the season that Christ conquered death by His own, is neither Christian nor Catholic.
Separately, our nation and indeed the world takes solace in knowing that one of many who has evoked terror and destruction on humanity has been stopped. Our joy is not in the death of a man, but in the end to tyranny and terror. Any thanksgiving should be directed to the fact that a team of men bearing our interests and freedom risked their lives to seek to bring justice and peace and that none of them were injured or killed. While we celebrate in thanksgiving for their sacrifices and their lives, we must always do so with a respect for the sacredness and reverence with which they do their jobs. Our prayers join with so many others in thanksgiving for the intelligence communities, for the sacrifices of all of the Navy SEALs, especially those who worship with us, to all our military, and to the families who so generously support them.
May we walk daily with the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus.