Oops: parish publishes mass intention for Osama bin Laden

The parish is saying it was a hoax.


Irish church officials have been left red-faced after announcing plans for an Osama bin Laden memorial Mass.

Howth parish in Dublin yesterday hastily withdrew an online newsletter advertising plans to dedicate a Mass to the man credited with masterminding the 9/11 attacks on New York’s twin towers.

The newsletter had stated the Mass would be held at 10am this Thursday in the Church of the Assumption in memory of “Osama bin Laden (recently deceased)”.

Church officials removed the online notice after being alerted by the public.

A spokeswoman for the Catholic press office confirmed there will not be a Mass in honour of the former al-Qa’ida leader.

“It is not really clear what happened,” she said, adding the incident may have been the result of “a mistake or a hoax or a prank”.

Requests to have a Mass said in memory of a deceased relative or friend are made to parish offices every day and it is possible a prank request was made and somehow included in the parish newsletter, she added.

The Telegraph has more details about what happened:

A spokeswoman for the Dublin archdiocese expressed surprise that such a Mass would be scheduled. She subsequently confirmed that it was a hoax.

She said someone had telephoned the church last week asking that two services to be dedicated to the infamous al-Qaeda leader’s memory.

His name had been taken without question by a church official and included on the list for upcoming prayers without the sanction of parish priest Msgr Brendan Houlihan.

Monsignor Houlihan was said to be very upset at bin Laden’s inclusion on the Mass list and insisted that under no circumstances would a memorial service be held in the church for the deceased terrorist.


  1. I admit, I was initially repulsed, but after a few moments of thought, I wondered, “Was ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’, a mistake, a hoax, or a prank?

  2. who could need a Mass more? It isn’t to honor him…

  3. Given that the man killed thousands of people in order to convince us, the survivors, to convert to Islam, I think having a mass for him would simply serve as a final and complete rejection of what he was marketing.

  4. alter Dan S. says:

    Certainly, a Mass could be offered for him as one can be offered for anyone, living or dead. Making such an intention public is not required and might not be a good idea. If, however, someone requests a Mass for bin Laden and that request is accepted, a Mass should be offered. So, if it is determined that this request was “a hoax” (not sure how that would be done), then no Mass is needed. But, if it was a legitimate request, then someone should fulfill that legitimate request.

    This is not “dedicating” a Mass to him. It is not a “memorial Mass.” It is not a Mass “in honor” of him. It is the most powerful prayer we can offer for his salvation.

  5. Dev Thakur says:

    I agree with the above commenters. It’s disappointing that no one in the story (or at least the writer didn’t mention it) clarified that a Mass said for the intention of a deceased is not in his honor, but because he was a sinner.

    We say Mass in honor of the saints but not for the intention of the repose of their soul, because we don’t need it. OBL is not in that category, so it makes sense to say a Mass for him.

    The point above, that this is a repudiation of what OBL stood for on earth, is also a great teaching point.

  6. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    The trouble with publicly saying a Mass for someone like Osama is that many, many people take it as “honoring” the deceased. That is why there are not many elaborate public funerals for deceased Mafia dons these days. Such public funerals became a grave scandal.
    And, if we are going to celebrate Masses for Osama to help him out of purgatory–if he’s in Hell, that’s it–then we have a lot of people to say Masses for that past generations would never have thought of “honoring” –like Adolph Hitler, Mao tse-tung, Pol Pot, Jack the Ripper, etc.

  7. Too bad that the parish didn’t take the trouble to make a “teaching moment” out of this misunderstanding. The picture clearly shows that this was the parish’s schedule of weekly Masses with their intentions – not a memorial Mass, not a Mass to honor the man. Catholics pray for the dead, and having a Mass said for an enemy is a perfectly reasonable thing. Does the parish keep a record of stipends given? That would pretty much tell if it was a hoax or not. My guess would be it was someone who wanted to pray for the soul of an enemy.

  8. When I saw this, I was surprised that this was even an issue that needed fixing. Like Barbara above me said, who right now needs a Mass more than Osama?

    Even though he was a wicked man, I pray to God that he repented in the last few moments of his life. I would wish hell on no one, not even a mass murderer.

    I hope that God will have mercy on Osama for what he’s done and grant him a place in Paradise. The many people he’s corrupted could use his intercession to turn themselves away from the lie in which they have been living, while they still have time.

    Say a Rosary for Osama’s soul and the souls of those who have been corrupted by Islam. They need our prayers now more than ever.

  9. I hope Msgr. Houlihan reads these responses and reflects on the effects of the mass for others. “Where charity and love prevail, there God is ever found!”

  10. Since when is saying a mass for someone honoring them? I had never heard this before. I have always been under the impression it is to help them gain heaven if still in purgatory. I have a mass said for someone that I had problems with my entire life and who I personally grew to detest. When I asked a priest about this, he suggested I have a mass said for them every week for a year. It has helped me gain the ability to forgive them in their grave and hopefully helped them gain heaven for eternity.

    I think having a mass said for Osama is a method of healing our wounds and in no way honors them. Is that what the author thinks having a mass said if for and if so where did that come from??

  11. Bill O' Toole says:

    >>that under no circumstances would a memorial service be held in the church for the deceased terrorist.<<

    Can we assume then, that no one has ever uttered a pray in your church for deceased Irish terrorists, the three who died in Gibraltar, as an example, spring to mind!!

  12. Christopher says:

    I do not see any problem praying for the soul of anyone. He certainly needs it. I do not have any wish that Usama is in hell. To wish such a thing would be a mortal sin in itself. Such wishes could damn a person who holds to such a thing.

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