Video: Prayer Request for Bin Laden Ignites Controversy in FL Catholic Parish

This story is generating controversy and headlines (including on the Drudge Report):

Prayer Request for Osama bin Laden at Catholic Church in West Palm Beach (includes video by local TV)

The name of Osama bin Laden appears in the Holy Name of Jesus Sunday bulletin. There’s a cross next to it.

A parishioner made a prayer request for the mastermind behind the 9/11 attack on America.

A church secretary took the Mass intention a week ago. She admitted she thought it was a joke at first. But few are laughing.

I was in Rome when the news of Bin Laden’s death was made public, so I feel a bit behind the news/commentary cycle on this one, but it strikes me as odd that Catholics would ask for anyone’s name to be removed from the list of prayer intentions (as some in the parish are apparently doing).

Granted, I think it was needlessly inflammatory to publish Bin Laden’s name with a Christian cross besides it. Bin Laden wasn’t Christian and didn’t believe in the resurrection, which Christians continue to celebrate joyfully in this Easter season. Considering Bin Laden’s public, gravely evil and indeed horrific acts and the manner of his death, we can only pray for God to have mercy for his soul.

But we should still pray for it, as we pray for all souls to receive God’s infinite mercy.

Frankly, however, I think this should remain a private intention, however. Everything says we should pray for the repose of all souls. Nothing says we have to publish those prayers in the parish bulletin.



  • Jay

    I am not sure if there is much point to pray for the reposal of the soul of unrepentant mass murderer. Is there Catholic teaching changing or am I missing something?

    • Adam

      Jay, we will never know the extend of God’s mercy on this side of heaven. Christ could have very well appeared before Osama the second before his death and presented him one last chance of repentance. All things are possible with Jesus and his mercy knows no bounds!

    • Laura

      Catholic teaching has not changed, we must pray for our enemies, for the repentance of sinner, for the Lord’s mercy, for the souls in purgatory, for the souls who need salvation the most… you name it. You don’t know if he was unrepentant, only God knows that

  • Irishtroubadour

    Wow I’m amazed at the negative reactions to this. What do you think our Lord would have done? I mean look at Saul, he killed tons of Christians, yet Christ still called him!

  • Christopher

    What a beautiful and stark gesture to have a Mass said for Bin Laden. If he is in hell it will not benefit him, but if in some mysterious way He was able to escape eternal damnation, it will be precisely because of Jesus’ salvific death! How tremendous to have a Mass said for him.
    You need to rethink your position about this being a private intention though. Masses may be said for anyone and everyone, it would be rank cowardice not to print the name in the bulletin. This is what the Catholic Faith is about!
    If the people being interviewed are Catholics then this becomes a point of conversion for them. They seem to identify more with being American than with being Catholic.
    We must love our enemies and pray for them and we should also pray for the dead! Perhaps parish bulletins across the nation should fill up with requests for masses for Osama. It would be a profound sign of the inner meaning of Catholicism.

    • Laura

      I agree whole-heartedly. Jesus said we should pray for our enemies, no one said it would be easy but that is what we should do. That’s exactly what was being done here and I can’t understand catholics giving someone a hard time for it. If by God’s Divine Mercy he didn’t go to hell, he needed that mass big time

  • debrr

    Our priest explained to us that we should not offer a Mass for someone who would not want one offered for them. I think that it is obvious, being a Muslum, that he would not want one. It is fine for private prayers to be offered for him or any soul, but a public Mass is not appropriate.

    • Tammy

      Debrr, I would not want to go against a priest but I would think that those who do not want us to pray for them are the ones who need to be prayed for the most! Now, if they are living it would not be prudent to rub those prayers in their face but if they’re dead then they know the truth now and our prayers will either help their soul get to heaven, or if they are already in heaven or hell and our prayers are not needed then the graces of those prayers will be applied to another soul.

  • albert

    Bin Laden died while Divine Mercy devotions were happening all over the world. I think it is a sign of God’s grace that he allowed a man with such manifest grave sins to die on Divine Mercy Sunday. If there’s anything that bin Laden, as well as every soul on earth, needs, it is Mercy.

  • Tammy

    I agree with Adam’s response. The parish secretary I’m sure noticed the name but decided to follow protocol with publishing it in the bulletin- as the parish probably does with all their Mass intentions. And yes, the cross refers to him being deceased as opposed to living. I think it is very important that we pray for the soul of Osama Bin Laden and one of the best ways (if not the best) is to offer Masses for him. However, I would understand if a parish thought it was best not to publish it in the bulletin and just wrote “special intention”. But when the priest announces it during the prayers of the Mass, should he also say “special intention” or should he name Osama since he knows who it is for. Would that cause controversy during the Mass? Because that is not a place where we want controversy. I guess all I know is that I think it was good for the parishioner to request a Mass for the soul of Osama Bin Laden and it was good for the parish to accept that request.



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