A few days after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden, Henry Borga requested that his Catholic parish, Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., celebrate a Mass for the repose of Osama bin Laden's soul. The pastor, Gavin Badway, says he will honor the request this weekend, explaining that Holy Name never turns down prayer petitions. "He needs forgiveness and compassion from God," Borga said of the terrorist ringleader. Not all parishioners think this is a good idea. "It's unconscionable," church member Lois Pizzano told a local news station. "It's sacrilegious." Is it?
This church must be desperate for attention: Even though "many religions are about forgiveness and love — love for everyone, even enemies," says Kim Conte in The Stir, you can't force people to forgive a monster like bin Laden in a public church service. The only logical explanation for why Borja would choose to "upset, divide, and alienate other parishioners at a time when so many are already hurting" is that "he wanted the attention."
"Bin Laden prayer request is blatant grab for attention"
Actually, this is what Jesus would do: "If I had known it was going to cause this much heartache, I probably would have said, 'Do you mind if we do this privately?'" says Fr. Badway, as quoted by The Palm Beach Post. But if I changed course now, "it would look like I'm ashamed of the Gospel message," or think this prayer is comprised of hollow words. And remember, praying for a mass murderer like bin Laden "is exactly what Jesus tells us, to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
"West Palm Beach Catholic church to pray for bin Laden..."
Technically, the priest is right. But this is a lousy idea: "Catholics are free to pray for anyone, living or dead," and "such prayers are exercises in charity," says Edward N. Peters at In the Light of the Law. Also, "a priest is free to offer Mass for anyone, living or dead." But it's probably not a good idea to publicize such Masses in the parish bulletin, as "bin Laden's (or Hilter's, or Stalin's...)" name will create more of a "distraction" than a "teaching moment."
"Re Osama Bin Laden's name in the parish bulletin"