Listening around to the various radio and video comments (with the usual pattern: European broadcasters cowardly fearing reprisals, American ones proudly extolling the military prowess of the operation) one element has attracted my attention: the subdued, almost shameful satisfaction of the European mood against the open rejoicing – in the street, or even with a marching band on the studio of a famous conservative commenter – experienced the other side of the pond.
Let me first point out to the fact that from a religious point of view you don’t wish death to anyone, let alone hell. You wish their repentance and conversion instead. But this is merely, so to speak, the starting position. From a practical point of view, we must deal with people who do not wish to repent, much less convert and that are in total military opposition to us.
Now I can pray for the conversion of the mad Egyptian doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri, the new number one of Al Qaeda, as much as I wish, but as long as this doesn’t happen (and frankly: don’t hold your breath, either) the chap is an enemy and a military objective and must be treated accordingly.
This is nothing irreligious, let alone un-Catholic. Catholics don’t “do” pacifism, nor are they ready to treat their enemies as if they were friends. When you are an enemy I can pray for you if I can, but I’ll treat you as such.
We are at war with terrorists. War means that military operations will be put in place, which are aimed at having the enemy either surrender or die. Osama was no exception. This being undoubtedly the case, it is not clear to me why the achieving of such a momentous military objective as the elimination of the commander-in-chief of the enemy camp should be welcomed with less than strong and vocal rejoicing.
On the 7th october 1571, the Christian Armies inflicted an utter defeat to the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto. The rejoicing and public celebrations were, notwithstanding the heavy tribute of blood on both sides, immense. This is right so.
What has happened in the early hours of Monday morning in a residential compound in Pakistan does, admittedly, not reach the scale of the victory in Lepanto, but still has the same character: a clear military success over the main enemy of the time. In addition, the complete success of the operation – with no casualties to be lamented on the American side – makes the event even more worth rejoicing.
Is there not rejoicing when, in war-time, the sinking of a prestigious enemy ship is announced, or when the conquest of an important military post is achieved? In both cases blood has flown, but in both cases the accent is not on a kind of sadistic joy for sufferance inflicted, but rather a patriotic joy for a victory obtained. It is not unChristian in the least; on the contrary, it is the way a Christian lives the battle and supports his side.
Osama Bin Laden’s elimination is – I do not think anyone can doubt this – an extremely important symbolic victory for the West. It’s the enemy flag now symbolically planted in front of the Western military camp, and a loud and clear reminder of what happens to the enemies of the West. There’s nothing wrong or irreligious in that, nothing whatever.
It is right to rejoice. Of course it is. I envy the spontaneousness and youthful energy of a country able to get on the streets, some of them in the night and in their pyjamas, to celebrate such a momentous event.
Of course in Europe there wasn’t so much to celebrate. It being clear to everyone that Europe has cowardly chosen to depend on the US military effort in order to have more money to waste in bureaucracy and unChristian socialist policies, there was no way we could see this feat as, in some way, belonging to us too. Still, I can’t avoid thinking that old and weary Europe was more absorbed with the worry about possible future attacks, whilst the youthful and enthusiastic US citizens were bravely defying every enemy, ready for combat and certain of victory.
Ask yourself now which continent is undoubtedly the more Christian, and you’ll have all the answers you need.