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Man gets church to pray for bin Laden Sunday

In direct contrast to the beer-swilling crowds who cheered Osama bin Laden's death, a member of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church has requested that the terrorist leader's name be added to the list of those prayed for at Sunday Mass.

Wednesday night Henry Borja was visibly distressed that what he wanted to say would be distorted or misunderstood.

"I'm not a sympathizer nor admirer of the deceased man (killer Osama bin Laden)," said Henry Borja, 50 of Palm Springs. "The only thing that I did was to host a Mass for the forgiveness, mercy and compassion of that miserable criminal."

The Rev. Gavin Badway, Holy Name pastor, talked to Borja and determined that he was sincere.

"At first I thought it was strange that somebody would do that," said Badway. "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."

The story went viral on Wednesday, dismaying Badway. Some parishioners have expressed disapproval to him.

"If I had known it was going to cause this much heartache, I probably would have said (to Borja), 'Do you mind if we do this privately," said Badway. "But now that it's a public issue, I can't go back. It would look like I'm ashamed of the Gospel message."

Another Holy Name parishioner, Beth Keller, does not object to adding the terrorist leader's name to the prayer list.

"Reconciliation is the foundation of our faith," said Keller, who leads the church's more than 60 lectors, who read scriptures at Mass. "When you can feel reconciliation, your heart is more open to love."

Keller hopes to broaden the scope of her church's prayer on Sunday ."I will be praying for more acceptance, that we can take this to a higher level."

"I'm sad when anybody dies, but I also believe we have an obligation to seek justice," said Keller. "For any logical person, the evidence points to bin Laden as trying to bring harm to our civilization. I hope that what Mr. Borja is doing is an opening, and if Holy Name is taking the opportunity for spiritual growth, I'm in."

Forgiveness has two components, said Mark Luttio, a Lynn University professor and an ordained minister.

"We are not pronouncing judgment, that's up to God, and God will deal with bin Laden," said Luttio. "For us, the power of forgiveness is that you break any kind of hold that someone, it could be bin Laden or anyone, has on you. We're called to forgiveness so that it does not limit our ability to be alive as a person and a nation."