A devout Catholic in Florida has angered members of his congregation by asking that they pray for Osama bin Laden in their next Mass.
Henry Borja’s request has been granted by Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., but not everybody’s happy about it.
One church member, Luis Pizzano, told WPTV television that praying for bin Laden was “unconscionable” and “sacrilegious.”
“I think it’s totally wrong. [Bin Laden] doesn’t belong in the Catholic religion. For what he did to Americans, he doesn’t belong anywhere,” he said.
“Let’s pray for our soldiers that are over there, not for somebody that caused our soldiers to go over there.”
Borja said he wanted to pray for the al-Qaida leader who was killed early this month in a raid by U.S. Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan, because of the teaching given by Jesus to his followers to love their neighbors.
“I’m not a sympathizer nor admirer of the deceased man,” he said. “The only thing that I did was to host a Mass for the forgiveness, mercy and compassion of that miserable criminal.”
The church’s pastor, Fr. Gavin Badway, explained why he agreed to add bin Laden’s name to the list of people prayed for at Sunday Mass.
“At first I thought it was strange that somebody would do that,” he told the Palm Beach Post. “Then I thought ‘This is exactly what Jesus tells us: to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’
“Are those just empty words or do we take them seriously? If you’re a Christian you have to take them seriously.”
Bin Laden was the mastermind behind the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil in 2001. Nearly 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks.
Since the successful covert operation in Abbottabad, U.S. officials discovered that bin Laden was very much still the strategist behind terrorist attacks around the world. Based on bin Laden’s personal journal and flash drives confiscated during the May 2 raid, officials found that he advised al-Qaida members in other countries to also target trains in addition to airplanes, to strike on significant American dates – such as July 4th and the anniversary of Sept. 11 – and to kill many Americans at one time, according to The Associated Press.