I cringed the moment I saw the Pope's opening line:
"There is an expression in Spanish: 'God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives,'" Pope Francis said.
That may be a Spanish expression, but it is anything but biblical. Which seems to prompt an obvious question: Why is the Pope, whose real name is Jorge Bergoglio, sharing a proverb that seems far more likely to find its origin in paganism, with its adulation and worship of nature, than Christian Scripture?
After all, it's not like a global pandemic isn't a most appropriate time for a Christian leader to be shepherding his flock, encouraging the lonely, comforting the afflicted, and offering eternal hope to the confused. Basic church history repeatedly testifies to exponential growth for Christianity during times of global plagues. In those moments when men are confronted with their own mortality, they are far more focused on the things that matter most – like the fate of their own soul.
But for some reason, Bergoglio decided to pass on those things to offer little more than politically charged, and intellectually stunted environmental platitudes.
"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."
The "revenge of nature"? Again, this is language far more befitting a pagan than anyone even remotely familiar with the Word of God. It's also a prime example of trying too hard.
If the reported origin of this virus is accurate, this international calamity has a lot more to do with eating a bat from a filthy Chinese wet market and the unforgivable deceit of a communist regime than it has anything to do with "Mother Nature" getting cranky about our SUVs.
But with as bizarre as this little discourse from Bergoglio may be, it was anything but surprising. Remember this is the same pope who took it upon himself a few years ago to add environmentalism to the Beatitudes from Christ's Sermon on the Mount. And not long after that, he actually considered the addition of "ecological sin" to the Catholic Church's catechism (official teachings) despite the fact that the Bible is clear that one does not sin against inanimate entities like "nature."
Still, although the Pope's environmentalism has become somewhat expected these days, that still doesn't excuse this kind of flagrantly destructive advice:
"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. Yes, I see early signs of an economy that is less liquid, more human."
This is a toxic brew of both dangerous ignorance and politically-blinded naiveté.
Perhaps it has never dawned on Bergoglio that it is the industrialized West he is so anxious to dismantle that has eradicated viruses, plagues, and pestilence from earth more in the last two centuries than ever imagined.
It is the industrialized world that has, through the very production he wants to retard, alleviated poverty and raised the standard of living for virtually every human being on earth.
It is the industrialized world that has built hospitals, dug wells, and carried medical supplies to the remotest regions of the planet, freeing the third world from the kind of hunger and suffering that those enshrined in gold-plated cities like the Vatican ever encounter.
It is at once disappointing and infuriating that at a precise moment where mankind is desperately relying both on the grace of God and the industriousness of man to deliver him from the clutches of a modern pandemic, that the man who leads a church of 1 billion in the name of Jesus would use his words to speak of "conversion" in a political sense rather than one that actually brings eternal peace.
In the end, Jorge Bergoglio is a fallen, fallible man like each of us. The difference is that the position and prestige bestowed upon him dangerously magnify his errors on a global scale. This is one of those moments.