This morning I woke up to the news that after nearly ten years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the self-proclaimed author and sponsor of these and other acts, Osama bin Laden was located and killed by US forces operating in Pakistan.
The Vatican issued the statement that appears on the front page of this website.
I must confess I was surprised at today’s events. It seemed that bin Laden was free for so long despite all our best efforts to find him that he would never be brought to justice.
Also, the jubilation of crowds seen in Washington and here in New York surprised me as well. From looking at many of the faces of the crowd I have the impression that many were college kids out on a bit of a toot, with patriotism as a good excuse or motivation.
The courage and professionalism of our Armed Forces involved in this and many other operations are indeed, however, a source of pride.
I think for anyone who experienced the events of 9/11 and/or who lost loved ones a certain amount of grim satisfaction is both understandable and perfectly acceptable.
For me, I feel no jubilation but a sense of moral quietude in that justice has in fact been done. Sometimes justice is harsh. However, as the Lord said, “Those who live by the sword, shall perish by the sword.”
Unlike the events of around this very time in 1945 however, this spectacular death does not mark the end of the struggle or war on terrorism. It will go on, it seems, fuelled by a fanaticism unknown to our secular West or our ecumenical ways of viewing other religions.
Not everyone shares that view and indeed it must be said that many Muslims themselves are often victims of violence carried out in the name of Islam or by governments reacting to it.
However, peace as distinct from justice or even vengeance requires wider and deeper means than political or military ones.
I happen to believe that a conversion to Christ is the answer. A conversion carried out as it has so often been carried out: by martyrs, confessors, and virgins who witness to the truth against (and on behalf of) those blinded by both a vulgar materialistic hedonism or crude and retrograde notions of religion and of society.
Give peace in our time, O Lord, for there is none other that fighteth for us, but only Thee, O Lord!
May 2, 2001.
Feast of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor.