By David Kerr
The Vatican says it does not rejoice in the death of Osama bin Laden.
“Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of each and every one of us before God and before man, and hopes and commits himself so that no event is an opportunity for further growth of hatred, but for peace,” spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, S.J. said on May 2.
Fr. Lombardi’s comments follow the announcement earlier today that the Al-Qaeda leader had been killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan. President Barack Obama informed the media that Bin Laden had died in a “firefight” at a compound in an urban area outside the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. A U.S. official quoted by the Associated Press said Bin Laden’s body has now been buried at sea.
Bin Laden was wanted in connection with a number of terrorist atrocities including the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. on Sept. 11, 2001. Those attacks alone killed over 3,000 people. Fr. Lombardi reflected upon the crimes Bin Laden stood accused of.
“Osama bin Laden – as we all know – was gravely responsible for promoting division and hatred between peoples, causing the end of countless innocent lives, and of exploiting religions to this end.”
Not surprisingly, Bin Laden was a critic of the Catholic Church for many years. His most recent outburst came in 2008 when he accused Pope Benedict XVI of being part of a “new crusade” against Islam.
His comments followed continued international protest by Muslims against a 2005 cartoon depiction of the prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. In a recorded internet message, Bin Laden said: “Your publications of these drawings – part of a new crusade in which the Pope of the Vatican has a significant role – is a confirmation from you that the war continues.”
At the time, Fr. Lombardi denied the suggestion that the Church was involved in any “crusade.” He also stated that the Vatican also condemned the publication of the Danish cartoons.