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Vatican, Cardinal George Offer Measured Response To Bin Laden Death

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Cardinal Francis George in Rome (CBS)

Cardinal Francis George in Rome (CBS)

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ROME (CBS) — The Vatican says Christians could never rejoice about the death of any human being, but a spokesman there says Osama bin Laden was responsible for having caused the death of countless innocent people.

The Vatican’s sentiment was echoed Monday by Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, who was in Rome over the weekend to beatify late Pope John Paul II.

If the threats of reprisals and the State Department alert about possible terrorist attacks at public areas concerned people, you wouldn’t know from the crowds at Rome’s main tourist attractions.

Americans continued to line up for hours to file past the casket of John Paul II inside St. Peter’s Basilica.

“We’re here to see the Vatican and do some touring and that’s what we’re going to do,” Bill McKinney of Johnstown, Pa. said.

It was the crowds, not the concern, that kept the visiting Chicagoans out of St. Peter’s Square for the second day in a row.

Part of that may have been increased security at the Vatican. A spokesman said that while a Christian never rejoices over another’s death, he criticized bin Laden for spreading divisions, hatred, and death.

Francis Cardinal George, speaking after Mass, went further. He said when he learned the news, he immediately thought of Scripture: “‘Whoever lives by the sword, dies by the sword,’” George told Levine.

Some did express concern about flying home safely from the pilgrimage that is now coming to an end. But most said the terrorist threats of retaliation for the death of bin Laden will make little or no difference in the choices they make.                  

One visible sign of the terrorist threat in Rome was beefed-up Italian police around the U.S. Embassy.

Cardinal George plans to fly back home to Chicago tomorrow.

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