After a very long week-end which included four confirmations in two days, one in Citrus county, one in Hernando country, and two in Pinellas county, I returned home last night (Sunday) and before going to bed was watching the recording of the Beatification ceremony of Blessed John Paul II when my IPhone signaled a major breaking news story. Placing the Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on hold, I turned on NBC and first heard that the President of the United States had asked for air time to speak to the nation about a major issue of national security at 1030pm. Like most of you, I waited and watched and then about 1045pm heard that the network could confirm that the President was about to announce the death of Osama Bin Laden and that our soldiers were in possession of his dead body. An enormous sense of relief swept over me. I instinctively thought of the late Pope and what he might have thought were he alive.
When in 2001, President Bush declared war on terrorism and especially on Al Qaeda, the Holy Father noted that the action could be morally justifiable as an act of self-defense and a response to an unprovoked attack on innocent civilians. For the Pope and the Holy See to acknowledge that the criteria for a just war could be met in this action was an unusual moment in modern history. It was no surprise to many when the intelligence community throughout the world posited that the same Al Qaeda had targeted the Holy Father himself for assassination. Later Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict would raise serious questions about the expansion of the Afghanistan initiative.
No one takes pleasure in the violent death of another but a sense of justice being served, peace possibly being advanced, one less terrorist to manage more attacks on civilian targets, is no sin. I think the Lord would understand. Not knowing all the details at this writing I think most citizens of the United States are relieved as I am that this mastermind of the deaths of thousands was brought to justice. We have lost 45,000+ of our young women and men in the ten years plus since 9/11 in Iraq and Afghanistan, a high price to pay. Just this week-end, it was revealed that a young Marine from Plant City was the latest to die in Afghanistan serving his country. Their families must surely be experiencing some measure of comfort this morning though the pain of their loss will long outlive the relief of last night’s news.
We all need to continue to pray for peace in our world. Our world is a complicated place and it needs more leaders like Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict to help us navigate the path to true peace which is never war. For the moment, I shall simply ponder my personal feeling of relief at this stunning news.