In several recent pronouncements, Pope Francis has hinted that the current coronavirus pandemic is a revenge of nature.
“A Revenge of Nature”?
In a March 22 interview with Spanish journalist Jordi Évole, Pope Francis was asked whether the present pandemic is not “a revenge of nature”?1 The pope answered with a popular saying, which he repeats like a theological axiom: “God forgives always; we men forgive sometimes; the nature never forgives.” He added that “nature is kicking us so we can take care of it.”2
Speaking to English journalist Austen Ivereigh, of the liberal Catholic London weekly The Tablet, on April 8, 2020, Pope Francis repeated the same refrain and, after commenting on various calamities, he said, “I don’t know if these are the revenge of nature, but they are certainly nature’s responses.”3
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“We Have Sinned Against the Earth: We Need an Ecological Conversion”
The same idea emerges in the special catechesis on the United Nations’ fiftieth Mother Earth Day, April 22.
“Because of our selfishness,” says Pope Francis, “we have failed in our responsibility to be guardians and stewards of the earth. … We have sinned against the earth… And how does the earth react?” And he repeated the mantra: “God forgives always; we men forgive sometimes; the earth never forgives. The earth never forgives: If we have despoiled the earth, the response will be very bad.”
Later on, the pope states, “We are the ones who have ruined the work of the Lord!” Hence, “in today’s celebration of Earth Day, we are called to renew our sense of sacred respect for the earth, for it is not just our home but also God’s home.”
But respect is not enough; it would seem. “We need an ecological conversion”.4
The Earth: “God’s Home”?
The statement by Pope Francis that the earth “is not just our home but also God’s home” is imprecise and can lead to pantheist confusion. Traditional Catholic doctrine says that God, “by his power and virtue, fills heaven and earth, and all things contained therein. … While he himself is confined to no place. … he is, however, frequently said in Scripture, to have his dwelling in the heavens.”*
For example, Psalm 123:1 reads, “To you, I raise my eyes, to you enthroned in heaven.”
The first book of Kings shows God’s omnipresence, as He cannot be contained in the heavens or on earth: “Is God indeed to dwell on earth? If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this house which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27).
The prayer that Our Lord taught us begins precisely with this invocation: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name” (Matt. 6:9).
(* The Catechism of the Council of Trent, trans. Rev. J. Donovan [Hawthorne, Calif.: The Christian Book Club of America, 1975], 494–5.)
“Nature Never Forgives: If You Slap It, It Will Always Slap You Back”
Already in January 2015, in one of his peculiar airborne interviews, flying from Sri Lanka to the Philippines, when challenged by a journalist’s question about whether climate change was man’s fault, the pope answered: “I don’t know if it’s all, but mostly, for a large part, man ‘slaps’ nature, continually, but we have taken hold of nature, of mother earth. I remember—you already heard this—what an old peasant once told me: ‘God always forgives, we men sometimes forgive, nature never forgives. If you slap it, it will always slap you back.’”5
Encyclical Laudato Si’: The Key to Understanding Pope Francis’s Pontificate
These and other anthropomorphic statements—certainly strange, sometimes unintelligible, and even incongruous—take on meaning when read in the light of Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’.
In fact, this encyclical gives us the key to understand other papal pronouncements, acts, gestures, and attitudes6 and, notably, the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia.7
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The Earth, Treated as a Living Being
In these documents, Pope Francis deals with the earth, nature, and the environment as if they were rational beings, endowed with intelligence, will, and sensibility, just like man.
Laudato Si’ affirms, for example: “This sister [the Earth] now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her” (no. 2). “This is why our oppressed and devastated earth is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she ‘groans in travail’” (Rom. 8:22) (no. 2).
Please note the Marxist characterization of the “poor” as the “oppressed.” The encyclical recommends an ecological approach for one “to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (no. 49). “These situations have caused sister earth, along with all the abandoned of our world, to cry out, pleading that we take another course” (no. 53).
Notes on the Unacceptable Philosophy and Theology of Laudato Si’
Thus, thanks to these cognitive and volitional faculties and sensitivity, Mother Earth is supposedly able to understand man’s behavior toward it and make a moral judgment about human acts, finding them good or bad. Likewise, the earth would feel offended by human actions that it considers evil and take revenge by causing fires, floods, devastation, and pandemics such as the coronavirus.
Earth Day, or Mother Earth Day—celebrated by Pope Francis—is an initiative of the naturalist-pantheist ecologist movement that began in the seventies. In 2009, the agnostic United Nations approved it as a kind of civil “holy day,” as seen on the institution’s web site:
Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly on April 22, 2009 [without reference to a Main Committee (A/63/L.69 and Add.1)] 63/278. International. …
Recognizing that Mother Earth is a common expression for the planet earth in a number of countries and regions, which reflects the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we all inhabit,
Noting that Earth Day is observed each year in many countries,
Decides to designate April 22 as International Mother Earth Day…
(United Nations General Assembly, “Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 22 April 2009” [without reference to a Main Committee (A/63/L.69 and Add.1)] 63/278, “International Mother Earth Day,” Sixty-third session, Agenda item 49 (d), 08-48747, May 1, 2009, https://undocs.org/A/RES/63/278.)
Moreover, the United Nations posted a message to its web site on April 22, the latest International Mother Earth Day, that goes in the line of Pope Francis’s conceptions:
When Mother Earth Sends Us a Message
Mother Earth is clearly urging a call to action. Nature is suffering. Australian fires, heat records, and the worst locust invasion in Kenya. Now we face COVID-19, a worldwide health pandemic link to the health of our ecosystem. … Let’s remind more than ever in this International Mother Earth Day that we need a shift to a more sustainable economy that works for both people and the planet. Let’s promote harmony with nature and the Earth.
(United Nations, accessed May 6, 2020, https://www.un.org/en/observances/earth-day)
Divinizing the Earth
Now, is granting the earth faculties of a rational creature and placing it as a judge and avenger of man’s actions, not equivalent to divinizing it?
This divinization of the earth seems to be the “theological” underpinning of the ceremonies worshipping the idol of the Pachamama goddess in the Vatican Gardens and Saint Peter’s Basilica, the center of Christianity. Two bishops carried the idol on their shoulders in procession from the Basilica to the Synod Hall. Pope Francis effectively participated in all these actions.8
Raising Pachamama and Dethroning Man
By divinizing the earth, Pope Francis changes traditional Church doctrine, which always considered man as the king of corporeal Creation.
Genesis is clear in this regard: “And God blessed them [Adam and Eve], saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth” (Gen. 1:28).
Fr. José F. Sagües, S.J., in his treatise on God’s creation, says with precision: “Our assertion … that the world exists because of man and certainly to serve him in order to glorify God, is of divine and Catholic faith, and, if considered in relation to each one of the things that exist in the world, it is a truth that is certain in theology.”9
The qualification “of divine and Catholic faith” means that this is a truth revealed by God and proposed by the Church to be believed. To deny it is heresy.10
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Fr. H. Pinard says: “All [Church] Fathers and theologians indeed consider man as the providential crowning of the sensible world: everything is ordained to him since without him things would not fulfill their end; nature would have no voice to praise God. … Man was created last, the Fathers [of the Church] say, precisely because it was fitting that everything should be ready before introducing the king of the universe.”11
In the encyclical Laudato Si’, running counter to the text of Genesis and the entire tradition of the Church, Pope Francis states: “It is true that we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures” (no. 67).
In his documents and statements, the pope consistently presents man, not as the master of nature, of the sensible world, a condition which man uses to give glory to God, but virtually reverses that order. Man is no longer considered to be the master but the servant of nature. Man must submit to and obey nature.
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Worse Than the Coronavirus Pandemic
With the present pontificate, the ongoing Church crisis rooted in the Modernist heresy and the “Nouvelle Théologie,” has reached an unimaginable degree. With errors and evils attacking the soul more severely than the coronavirus attacks the body, this endangering eternal salvation, the crisis of faith is far worse than the current pandemic.
Drastic sanitary measures have been taken to mitigate the coronavirus epidemic. Yet, from a spiritual standpoint, the faithful are left completely unprotected at a time when they most need assistance.
While deifying nature and favoring the idolatrous cult of Pachamama, Pope Francis quickly closed Rome’s churches and allowed bishops from all over the world to do the same, suspending public masses and the distribution of the Sacraments.
Why should we have expected anything different, given that, in his encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis characterizes the Holy Eucharist (the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord) as “a fragment of matter”?12
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Saint Paul declares, “But we are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life” (Heb. 10:39).
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Confident in the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, let us continue to fight for the integrity of the Faith and the restoration of Christian civilization.
- In the original Spanish, “ajuste de cuentas de la naturaleza.”
- “‘Espero que los Pueblos Aprendan de la Crisis para Revisar Sus Vidas,’ Dice el Papa a Jordi Évole,” Religión en Libertad, Mar. 23, 2020, https://www.religionenlibertad.com/noticias/197972338/Espero-que-los-pueblos-aprendan-de-la-crisis-para-revisar-sus-vidas-dice-el-Papa-a-Jordi-Evole.html. (All emphases are mine).
- Austen Ivereigh, “Pope Francis Says Pandemic Can Be a ‘Place of Conversion,’” The Tablet, Apr. 8, 2020, https://www.thetablet.co.uk/features/2/17845/pope-francis-says-pandemic-can-be-a-place-of-conversion.
- Pope Francis, “General Audience,” Apr. 22, 2020, https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2020/04/22/200422a.html.
- Alan Holdren and Andrea Gagliarducci, “Full transcript of Pope’s interview in-flight to Manila,” Catholic News Agency, Jan. 15, 2015, https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/full-transcript-of-popes-interview-in-flight-to-manila-96471.
- See Arnaldo Vidigal Xavier da Silveira, “Notes on the Unacceptable Philosophy and Theology of Laudato Si’,” TFP.org, Aug. 2, 2017, https://tfp.org/notes-unacceptable-philosophy-theology-laudato-si/.
- See Luiz Sérgio Solimeo, “Resisting the Grave Errors in Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonia,” TFP.org, Mar. 3, 2020, https://tfp.org/resisting-the-grave-errors-in-pope-franciss-apostolic-exhortation-querida-amazonia.
- See Luiz Sérgio Solimeo, “Having Worshipped Pachamama, Pope Francis Now Disparages Mary’s Co-Redeeming Role,” TFP.org, Dec. 23, 2019, https://tfp.org/having-worshipped-pachamama-pope-francis-now-disparages-marys-co-redeeming-role/.
- Fr. José F. Sagües, S.J., “De Deo Creante et elevante,” Sacrae Theologiae Summa, vol. II, tr. II, no. 204.
- See Fr. Sixtus Cartechini, S.J., De Valore Notarum Theologicarum (Rome: Typos Pontificiae Universitatis Gregoriane, 1951; Sainte Croix du Mont, France: TRADIBOOKS, n.d.), 83.
- s.v. “Création,” in Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. III, col. 2172.
- Pope Francis, Encyclical Laudato Si’, May 24, 2015, no. 236, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html; see Xavier da Silveira, “Notes on the Unacceptable Philosophy and Theology of Laudato Si’,”