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According to Catholic Teaching: Why is God allowing COVID-19, knowing that many deaths are involved and many, many more are constantly getting sick.

No moral or physical good seems to be resulting from the Coronavirus? Even vaccines are probably being produced from aborted fetuses.

If we could talk directly to God, would He tell us that He created the natural order of things, and that COVID-19 emerged from the natural order of things?

Or would He say that humans have invaded animals' natural habitat and COVID-19 was a natural consequence of that?

My stumbling block with all of this is the death and illness of so many innocent people. Certainly, a benevolent God couldn't have sanctioned COVID-19. So if not, then what?

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    Firstly, i voted up this question...the basics of it are valid in my opinion...even if asked more than once. Second, Why do you rely on an answer based on the Catholic model specifically? Is that what you believe to be the only source of truth? Third, Corona virus has already been shown to originate from an unhealthy environment where a mix of exotic animals that do not coexist in nature are kept in awful conditions. Should we be surprised by that? Its not God who did this.
    – Adam
    Dec 3 '20 at 18:44
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    @Adam: Once upon a time, a Christianity.SE mod insisted that I attach a denomination to my questions. If not for that mod, I would've omitted the denomination.
    – Jim G.
    Dec 3 '20 at 21:02
  • You can change this question to an overview, if you wish
    – Ken Graham
    Dec 4 '20 at 16:43
  • What is an overview of why God allows sickness suffering and death?
    – Kris
    Dec 4 '20 at 23:07
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In the Book of Job, that man's greatest insights into his need for a savior and what that savior needed to do for him came in the midst of his suffering. In my own life, times of suffering have also pushed me to deeper understanding of my failings, need for change, and drove me to seek God. Are there people in the world today who are finding in COVID-19 a force urging them toward God? I have been forced to work from home most of the past year. The savings in commute time is about 12 hours a week. I have used about half that time for additional prayer, Bible study, and writing. I doubt I am alone; many people have seen their priorities change. I just finished the first draft of a book on how to find peace. I would not have chosen the topic or had the time to do the research and write it without the disruption of the pandemic.

Some people are isolated because of the disease. What will they do with this isolation?

Some people are spending more time with their children than before. I am one; all my daughters are in college, but college is now on Zoom from home. What will that do with their relationships?

Some people will die. What effect will this have on the people they leave behind? Years ago, I visited a terminally ill woman a few times, to pray for her and console her. She died and I was changed. Seeing the strength of her faith in the midst of such horrible pain and suffering transformed me. That experience set me free from over a decade of depression. Will God waste so many deaths, or make good use of them?

The Bible has examples of how horrible times can yield surprising results. My church is studying Ruth. In that story, Naomi and her husband leave Israel during a famine to try their luck in Moab. It doesn't work out. Her husband and two sons die and she returns to Israel with her daughter in law, Ruth, because the famine is starting to lift. In the end, Ruth ends up marrying Boaz and from their union come the ancestors of King David and after that, Jesus.

A famine drove Naomi from Israel and then it brought her back, but with a daughter-in-law in tow. That would not have happened without the famine.

What caused the famine? Scientists reconstructing ancient climate believe that the time of Ruth was during the Great Drought. It lasted 50 years and was the worst drought in recorded history. It caused the Late Bronze Age collapse and destroyed several empires, like the Hittites. Archaeologists say every single major city from Greece all the way to Gaza was burned to the ground by the fighting that attended that civilizational collapse. The destruction of those empires cleared the stage for the rise of Israel under David.

The big picture is hard to see. Will Covid-19 spell the downfall of great powers as ordained by God, who is preparing superior replacements? We won't know until many years from now. One of the vaccines going through trial was developed in under two months - a record. When one of the vaccines is ready for distribution, it will hav e been the fastest vaccine developed ever. Perhaps God is using this pandemic to train our scientists and factories to ready them for rapid response to an even worse disease in our near future? Time will tell.

The most important thing to realize is that God has given us free will and given us jobs to do. Our actions count. They matter. Our lives are consequential. How we respond to tragedy is a test of our love. A world of suffering is a stage for us to prove who we are. There is no other way. The only test for a doctor is if they can cure the sick. All our diseases have been the force driving us to understand biology and every other science.

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This question is part of the Problem of Evil. How can a good God allow bad things to happen to "good" people? Disease is a natural evil, distinct from moral evil. There are two main reasons for this from Catholic teaching.

  1. Consequences of Original Sin.

Because of man's willful opposition to God, he doesn't owe us an escape from all suffering. Jesus nor any prophet never promised that we would not suffer by following him and in fact he told us to take up our own cross!

  1. So that a greater good may come about (or a greater evil can be avoided).

Romans 8:28 states that all things work together for the good. This is God's Providence. The greatest evil to have ever happened was Jesus Christ being crucified. But what came from it was the greatest good: the redemption of mankind. Jesus himself said that the poor and sick are permitted for the glory of God.

So God does not positively will that evils befall people. But he does permit them for our own sake. Just because the good effect isn't apparent to you doesn't mean it didn't happen. Doubting God's Providence is very human and understandable because at the end of the day it's incomprehensible to us. But you must rely on it out of faith.

If you search around for the Problem of Evil, you'll find volumes of material.

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  • Hi lordadmira, welcome. What is the intent of the last characters /+ in the answer? Dec 6 '20 at 9:48
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Why is God allowing COVID-19, knowing that many deaths are involved and many, many more are constantly getting sick.

Why did God permit the Black Death plague? Or the Spanish Flu pandemic? This is neither the first nor the last time a widespread outbreak of a disease will occur. The theological question though is essentially the same.

No moral or physical good seems to be resulting from the Coronavirus

"seems" is the keyword here. As individual humans the ability to determine the results of actions is limited. God is not limited in that way; God's knowledge is infinite (First Vatican Council, cf. I Sam 2:3, Rom 11:33, Psalm 147:5) and knows all that is merely possible (see I Cor 2:10 and Summa I Q14:A9).

Physical evil is not per se willed by God "For God did not make death: nor does He take pleasure in the destruction of the living. For He created all things that they might be" (Wisdom 1:13-14, cited in Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, by Ludwig Ott). Physical Evil is permitted by God as a "means to a higher end"; that is, by the evil occurring some higher good may occur. The key here is "may". God's will is perfect but our free wills are not. We fall into sin (moral evil) and so we don't always end up seeking the higher good.

In the case of COVID-19 (or any other widespread outbreak), God permits it (a physical evil) so that some good may result. What exactly good that is may be hard to see depending on our perspective, but fundamentally, God could not permit it to occur if there was no possibility for any good to occur.

The concept of Divine Providence underlies the Book of Job and the Consolation of Philosophy.

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