Latest posts on Christian Aid

Why 'Christian Hate?'? An introduction to the blog

Places Christians shouldn't go A quick tour of Christian Hate?'s case against Christian Aid

Christians and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Read all my posts on this topic

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Christians rejoice?

I was going to start this post by observing that I do not expect to read a more inane reaction to the killing of Osama bin Laden than Cristina Odone's attempt to construct a (im-)moral equivalence between Americans celebrating the demise of the bearded one and the "Arab street" rejoicing over 9/11. That, however, was before Rowan Williams's PR man George Pitcher popped up singing from the same hymnbook*. My cup runneth over, and I think it is Mr Pitcher who must be awarded the palm, if only for his inspired use of the term "rednecks".

Well, George Pitcher is in the deepest and truest sense not my problem any more. As for Cristina Odone, however, I am emboldened to suggest that after less than a fortnight as a Catholic I already have a better grasp of Catholic moral theology than she has.

It is right to celebrate the success of a just endeavour and wrong to celebrate the success of an unjust endeavour. As simple as that. And when I say "right" I don't mean just "permissible". We ought to be thankful that Osama has been put out of the way of masterminding the taking of innocent lives, thankful to those whose professionalism, doggedness and courage has brought about this end. Why, Ms Odone, should anyone risk their neck for the sake of your freedom if the most you can manage when they triumph is a "yes, Osama bin Laden’s death is a good thing" from between gritted teeth?

But surely, you may now be saying, our Cristina has the Vatican on her side? Thus Fr Federico Lombardi:-

“Osama bin Laden – as we all know – was gravely responsible for promoting division and hatred between peoples, causing the end of countless innocent lives, and of exploiting religions to this end.

“Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of each and every one of us before God and before man, and hopes and commits himself so that no event be an opportunity for further growth of hatred, but for peace.”

And quite right, too. Note, for one thing, the first of these two sentences, and see if you can find its equivalent in either GP's or CO's posts; compare the forthright attribution of guilt with George Pitcher's portrayal of Osama as a man denied a fair trial. Note also the absence of direct condemnation of anyone other than Osama himself, and again compare and contrast. Note next that the Vatican can never forget the exigencies of diplomacy when it chooses its words. Fr Lombardi will have been keenly aware that there are Christians in Pakistan.

And note above all a crucial distinction. It is the termination of the man's evil deeds which is just cause for rejoicing, not the termination of his life. However just, the fighting of a war is a poor substitute for the repentance of the aggressor. That's a distinction which, I dare say, many patriotic Americans are failing to draw today, but the faux pacifist liberals sitting in judgment over them in North London aren't doing any better. Two sides of the same coin, in fact.

*That will, of course, be the one from which which the inappropriately militaristic "Onward Christian soldiers" has been expunged in favour of "Onward Christian pilgrims".

No comments: