Pope Says the Earth Is Angry

By Mark A. Kellner | Posted April 14, 2020

Pope Francis, one of the most influential religious figures today, said on April 8 that the coronavirus pandemic is the result of the world’s neglect of environmental matters.

“There is an expression in Spanish: ‘God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives,’” the pope told journalist Austen Ivereigh, who published the comments in The Tablet, a Catholic magazine based in London. “We did not respond to the partial catastrophes. Who now speaks of the fires in Australia, or remembers that 18 months ago a boat could cross the North Pole because the glaciers had all melted? Who speaks now of the floods? I don’t know if these are the revenge of nature, but they are certainly nature’s responses.”

This focus on nature was certainly interesting coming from the leader of the largest Christian church in the world. (There are currently 1.2 billion Roman Catholics across the globe.) At a time when many people, Christian and non-Christian, are seeking God, the pope seemed to be turning his attention to society’s role within the environment. And his comments have been receiving extensive public attention—as seen in a recent article in New York’s Daily News newspaper.

“Every crisis contains both danger and opportunity: the opportunity to move out from the danger,” Francis said. “Today I believe we have to slow down our rate of production and consumption and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world. We need to reconnect with our real surroundings. This is the opportunity for conversion.”

He added, “This is the time to take the decisive step, to move from using and misusing nature to contemplating it. We have lost the contemplative dimension; we have to get it back at this time.”

So according to the pope, it is crucial at this time that we meditate not upon God but upon nature. We see from his earlier comment that he views God and nature as not only distinct but also juxtaposed: One is forgiving; the other is not. How else does Francis view nature? 

A Pagan Pope?

Melanie Phillips, a noted British journalist who writes a column for The Times newspaper in London, in a blog entitled “Is the Pope a Pagan?”, argued about the likelihood of the pontiff’s adherence to pagan ideology—namely, his proclamation of nature as an anthropomorphized Mother Nature.

“In the Bible, the ultimate moral authority is God who dispenses justice, both forgiveness and punishment,” she wrote. “The Pope absolves [God] of the punishment element which he ascribes instead to the earth, depicted as a female victim taking her revenge upon humanity for the harm it has done her. Thus, the Pope selectively edits the Bible’s moral teachings, strips justice itself of meaning and invests the earth with both human and divine qualities.”

Scenic Mountainscape

That’s a strong indictment of the pope, but it is one that the Bible supports. The Creation account in Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” In Psalm 95:5, the planet doesn’t act on its own; rather, God is in charge: “The sea is His, for He made it; and His hands formed the dry land.” 

Earlier in the Psalms, we get another straightforward declaration: “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).

The New Testament continues: “You are worthy, O LORD, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

It’s by God’s will that “all things” are able to “exist,” the Scripture tells us. “There is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:6). Nature is no goddess but simply God’s creation.

Good Stewards, Yes, But Not Slaves

It was God’s plan that humans should have dominion over their environment: “God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’” (Genesis 1:26).

There’s no denying that we are supposed to care for the planet, to be good stewards of creation. The Bible goes on to record, “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). We’re supposed to “tend and keep” the planet; that much is clear. So are we being good caretakers when we treat the Earth like a garbage can or when we strip it constantly of its resources?

No, but there is a big difference between enslavement to today’s new goddess, environmentalism, and proper care for the planet. Consider these thoughts from Pastor Doug Batchelor, expressed in an open Bible study lesson a few years ago: “Someday, God's going to make a new heaven and a new earth, and I want to live in that new heaven and that new earth; don't you? I want a new body then; don’t you? Then let's take care of the one He’s given us now. Take care of the earth He’s given us now, take care of the bodies He’s given us now; and let’s be good Christians and represent Jesus—remember, it belongs to Him.”

You might want to take some time this week and watch that Bible study, titled “Stewardship and the Environment.” It contains practical, biblical counsel on the environment and what we should do within the earth God has given us.

Mark Kellner
Mark A. Kellner is a staff writer for Amazing Facts International. He is a veteran journalist whose work has been published in Religion News Service, The Washington Times, and numerous computer magazines.

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