La Civiltà Cattolica on Bin Laden's Death

The Italian Jesuit periodical La Civiltà Cattolica has given its opinion on the death of Osama Bin Laden and mostly backs the U.S. operation carried out last month.

The influential fortnightly journal, whose drafts are passed by the Vatican Secretariat of State, focuses on the many risks that a trial of Bin Laden would have created, and the strong geopolitical implications.

According to Francesco Peloso, writing in Gesuiti News, La Civiltà Cattolica gives “a very careful and realpolitik assessment” of the death of al Qaeda’s leader, and doesn’t condemn the decisions made ​​by the Obama administration.

“The ocean could dilute the memory of Bin Laden,” La Civilta Cattolica says in an editorial published June 18th, “and the myth of impregnability has been shattered.”  It takes issue on one aspect of Bin Laden’s demise: his burial at sea which, it says, “is not appropriate for a Muslim.” However, it points out that “it is easy to imagine that no country would accept his remains” and that being cast into the sea “avoided the possibility of creating a place of pilgrimage” for the world’s most wanted terrorist.

The periodical says the way in which bin Laden was killed has enlivened debate “about the legitimacy and legality of the operation” - kill or capture - but adds that not releasing any photos and video of his death “seemed a practical way of not providing extremists with useful propaganda.”

After noting that, according to the White House, the operation was motivated by a direct order from the President against an enemy “of humanity,” it observes: “Bin Laden was still dangerous. And he was stopped. To presume his innocence was juridically legitimate but not reasonable.”

The periodical goes on to say that the truth about Bin Laden’s terrorist activities “may be ascertained by other means”, in particular by trying the detainees at Guantanamo. The Jesuit journal also asks: “Who in fact could reasonably believe that Bin Laden was innocent?” and adds that a long trial would risk giving the defendant “an opportunity for propaganda with unpleasant revelations, also for U.S. allies.”

Although it says a trial without torture would have helped avoid a glorification of his death by his followers, at the same time it says that “a prisoner like Bin Laden would have motivated his followers to capture hostages to secure the release of their hero.”