Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Bin Laden's death was a Papal miracle, suggests Peruvian president

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Was Bin Laden's death a miracle?
As debate continues over the details of Osama bin Laden's death in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the president of Peru, Alan Garcia, has a novel suggestion regarding the date of the al-Qaeda founder's violent end. Noting that the assault on Bin Laden's compound took place on the same day as the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Rome, Garcia points out that the timing may not have been coincidental:
“I have said that his first miracle has been to remove from the Earth this demonic incarnation of crime, evil and hatred.”
Leaving aside the fact that the Catholic Church has already approved John Paul's first miracle (aiding the recovery of a French nun from Parkinson's), news of another miracle could be good, as that's precisely what's required to secure the late Pope's progression to the status of saint. However, it's not entirely clear where kill missions by special forces teams, or indeed the opinions of individual national presidents, stand in the Church's canonisation procedures. Indeed, judging by the Vatican's reaction to Bin Laden's death, it seems unlikely they will be seeking approval of the incident as a miracle of John Paul II. In a statement on Monday, the Pope's spokesman, Federico Lombardi, told the media:
"Osama bin Laden, as we all know, bore the most serious responsibility for spreading divisions and hatred among populations, causing the deaths of innumerable people, and manipulating religions to this end. In the face of a man's death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred."
Which brings me to another aspect of the debate over Bin Laden. Some of the religious bloggers I read (the Church Mouse, for example) have expressed reservations about the jubilant tone taken by many towards news of his killing, pointing out that death is something that should never be celebrated. This is hardly an exclusively religious position – it was a well-known atheist, the magician Penn Jillette, who prompted the viral spread of a quote supposedly-but-not-actually by Martin Luther King ("I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy") after tweeting it to his 1.6 million followers in reaction to the news.

I'd be interested to hear your views on this – should we be happy that Bin Laden is gone, or is it morally wrong to welcome someone's death, no matter what crimes they committed while alive? Has "justice been done", has as been widely suggested, or is the shooting of a man who now appears to have been unarmed by definition an unjust act? Please do share your thoughts below.
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