Disputes case on bin Laden - Catholic Courier

Disputes case on bin Laden

To the editor:

According to “Neutralizing a threat”, (a column by John Garvey), in the June, 2011 Catholic Courier, killing Osama bin Laden “neutralized a grave threat,” and thus was justified.

Garvey refers to the Church’s teaching that in certain circumstances intentionally killing a person is not wrong.

St. Thomas Aquinas explains, “it may be good to kill a man who has sinned” since by sinning the man “falls away from the dignity of his manhood” ; “The wicked may be lawfully put to death only when a community is protected and saved by the slaying” (The Summa Theologica, Q. 64, Art. 2) and only if no other means will protect the community (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2267).

Garvey defends slaying bin Laden rather than capturing him on grounds it was an act of war.

So “the damage inflicted” by bin Laden “on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave and certain” (Catechism, no. 2309).

Garvey notes bin Laden’s organization, al-Qaida, has conducted horrific massacres of civilians. But, referring to “the retaliation that would have ensued if the United States held him in custody,” he acknowledges that others besides bin Laden plan and carry out the activities of al-Qaida. Hence the likelihood that killing bin Laden would end the damage is questionable.

Garvey asserts, “the Navy SEALS were justified in presuming that he posed a grave immediate threat,” offering no evidence. His plea that trying to capture bin Laden would have required a “heroic effort” with “greater risks to the mission” suggests that the purpose of the mission was the kill bin Laden.

Garvey claims the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which bin Laden masterminded, “inspired two massive wars with even greater loss of life.”

However, invading Afghanistan was neither the only possible, nor indisputably the best, response to the attacks. And the perceived threat posed by Saddam Hussein, which led to the invasion of Iraq, had nothing to do with the attacks.

Grace K. LaDouce


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