Osama bin Laden has, after ten years of assiduous searching, been killed. The American state has succeeded in cutting off one of the heads of the hydra. It remains to be seen whether it can also sear the wound, to prevent three more from sprouting.
I cannot, will not rejoice in this. Make no mistake -- I am delighted that he has been put beyond the power of harming anyone, or seducing or frightening young Moslem men into the service of his evil organization. His successor in Al Qaeda, and the members of other organizations like it, will presumably continue that work, but he personally cannot do it any longer, and that is good.
But the reason that he cannot is that he has been sent to face the judgment of God. I absolutely decline either to guess what that judgment will be -- who are we to suppose what a man's choices mean in the innermost recesses of the heart, or what grace might have been shown him in the last lucid moments of his life? -- or to add my own reviling to it. God says forthrightly in Ezekiel that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and there is no excuse for Christians indulging in it; trying to be more spiritual than God rarely ends well.To Catholics particularly, but to any who are willing to do so, I appeal that we pray for the soul of Osama bin Laden. He needs it if anybody does; we do not know his fate; if he was, at the last moment, our brother, he is entitled to our prayers for his repose, and if he is or ever was our enemy, we are under orders to pray for him. We have just celebrated Easter, when our Christ died, the just for the unjust. Surely we unjust ones can afford to tender a little mercy to one assuredly no more unjust than ourselves.