Pope Francis likened the coronavirus pandemic to recent fires and floods as one of “nature’s responses” to the world’s ambivalence to climate change.
“There is an expression in Spanish: ‘God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives,'” the pope said in an interview published Wednesday in The Tablet, a United Kingdom-based Catholic weekly.
The 83-year-old pope was asked if he believed coronavirus could spur ecological conversion, the idea for people to lead more environmentally conscious lives through the understanding that the natural world is a creation of God.
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Pope Francis said the world had yet to respond to recent “partial catastrophes” related to the climate.
“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?” he asked. “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 pope went on to say he believed the COVID-19 outbreak that has ravaged the globe could inspire change.
“This is the time to take the decisive step, to move from using and misusing nature to contemplating it,” he said.
Worldwide, 1.5 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed and the pope said this shined a 'spotlight on hypocrisy' as outbreaks continue in the U.S. and Europe.
“This crisis is affecting us all, rich and poor alike, and putting a spotlight on hypocrisy,” he said.
“I am worried by the hypocrisy of certain political personalities who speak of facing up to the crisis, of the problem of hunger in the world, but who in the meantime manufacture weapons.”
The Vatican closed Saint Peter's Square and Basilica in early March but the pope said members of the administrations were still working while practicing social distancing.