I think it’s completely natural for believers to look at this pandemic and the profound suffering it is causing and ask themselves “why?” The Catechism calls the experience of suffering and evil a “scandal” before going on to say, “If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world, cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist? To this question, as pressing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is mysterious, no quick answer will suffice” (CCC 309).
While no quick answers will suffice, they certainly are tempting. Unfortunately, like Job’s friends in the Old Testament, there are many people who have been all too quick to offer their analyses. Some high-profile Catholics have insisted that the pandemic is a divine punishment for the pope allowing Christians from the Amazon to engage in the Christian worship practices of their native culture in the Vatican or for the “great sacrilege” of Catholics receiving Communion in the hand instead of on the tongue. In their desperate search to explain the present suffering, these figures have distorted the Gospel.
Before blaming the pandemic on divine wrath, the faithful should pause and ask themselves, “Who is God?”