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The Busted Halo Question Box
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This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

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Caitlin Kennell Kim
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Mike Hayes
Our readers asked:

Should We Have Preserved the Life of Osama Bin Laden?

Neela Kale Answers:

Church opposition to the death penalty stems from the fifth commandment: Thou shalt not kill. In recognizing society’s right to protect itself, the Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes: “If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means” (#605). Pope John Paul II further acknowledges in Evangelium Vitae (1995) that though capital punishment is permissible when there is no other way to defend society, “as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically nonexistent” today (#56). Did Osama Bin Laden present one of those very rare cases? The question remains under debate. While the raid that killed him was framed as a military operation against an active combatant, in which the use of lethal force can sometimes be justified, many Catholic commentators have expressed concerns about the circumstances of his death. As the editors of Commonweal wrote in June 2011, “the greater triumph of justice would have been to put such a criminal on trial rather than to end his life under such highly ambiguous circumstances.”

The Author : Neela Kale
Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.
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