Earthquakes and Divine Chastisement/Retribution
|A view of the facade of the Basilica of St. Benedict, in his birthplace of Norcia (Nursia), central Italy, after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 struck the region Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016.|
There was a dust-up at the Vatican recently when a well known Italian Dominican priest, Father Cavocoli, who is also a moral theologian, said this about the recent major earthquakes in Italy, in particular, the destruction of the Benedictine Basilica in Norcia, Saint Benedict's birth place:
Padre Cavacoli was ousted from Radio Maria by Padre Livio Fanzaga after the following episode: a caller asked him live if the earthquake might have been a punishment from God for the approval of the Law on Civil Unions for couples of the same sex (the Cirinnà Law), and Cavalcoli just said that natural disasters are indeed a punishment for original sin, and followed up by saying that the caller's interpretation was a possible one (that is, Cavalcoli merely repeated what Tradition and Scripture teach on Original Sin). For his response Cavalcoli was fired and had his program canceled.
And now there are some in the Catholic Church in this country who are saying that the election of Donald Trump is a sign from God of divine retribution of the Obama/Clinton's administration to try to make the Catholic Church eat pork by forcing her private insurance companies to provide reproductive and abortion services to anyone employed by the Church. The perversion of natural marriage codified in law, is another example begging retribution from God or tempting God to act.
As well, it is well known through leaked emails, that Hilary Clinton's disdain for the Catholic Church stems from her belief that the Church is backwards on sexual morality and marriage, women's rights, contraception and abortion rights. And that they, meaning the democrats, must change the Church! Such arrogance, no? But President Obama tried to do the same thing in a very dictatorial way.
Can one make a case, based upon Catholic teaching, that God does indeed visit us with Divine retribution that can also affect the innocent and the guilty alike? After all isn't God the Lord of live and death?
What does the Catholic Church actually teach about Divine Retribution in this life and the next?
The same Domican priest, a doctor of theology, doubled down on his opinion and others chime in from this artlce by Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register:
The Dominican, (Fr. Cavacoli)however, did not issue a mea culpa, (on his chastisement by the Vatican) insisting: "I reaffirm everything: earthquakes are provoked by the sins of men, such as civil unions”, and urged a reading of the Catechism. He added: "I've been a doctor of theology for thirty years, I worked in the Vatican with Saint John Paul II and I repeat that sins like homosexuality deserve divine retribution which can be manifested in earthquakes."
Recalling also Sodom and Gomorrah, Father Cavalcoli stressed that such statements that “homosexuality is against nature” and that homosexuals are sinners “do not go against the principles of Christian ethics.”
Radio Maria distanced itself from his comment, saying it is his own personal opinion and “absolutely does not reflect” those of the station. In response, Father Cavalcoli said they, too, should also read the Catechism.
The Dominican’s comments are by no means isolated and his sentiment is one shared by many here since the series of major earthquakes began, each of which was clearly felt in Rome — especially the latest on Oct. 30. That they might signify something, and that God is possibly speaking to us through them, is not an uncommon topic of conversation here.
Given the current state of the world and the Church, this is perhaps unsurprising. Also, as one Rome source close to the Vatican pointed out: “Doesn’t the Gospel record that there was a violent earthquake at the moment of Our Blessed Lord’s death?,” referring to Matthew 27:51 — And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.
“The High Priest Caiaphas probably didn’t have a press office,” he added wryly, “but if he did, it would have been busy saying that the earthquake had nothing to do with the execution of Jesus of Nazareth.”
A loss of symbolism reflecting realityIn an op-ed published on Saturday, Church historian Robert de Mattei explained why he also thinks Archbishop Becciu is thoroughly mistaken in his viewpoint.
Writing in Corrispondenza Romana, Professor De Mattei said that in the past, man was “able to read the messages of God” in such events, “expressed in the language of the symbol”. It is “not a conventional representation, but it is the deepest expression of things.”
But he explained that modern rationalism, from Descartes to Hegel, from Marx to neo-scientism, “wished to rationalize nature by replacing the truth of the symbol with a purely quantitative interpretation of nature.” Today’s postmodern culture has therefore created “a new system of symbols” which, “unlike the old ones, do not return one to the reality of things, but rather warp it as in a game of mirrors.” So instead, De Mattei said, we have modern communications, from tweets to talk-shows, that “aim to create emotion and arouse feelings, refusing to grasp the profound reasons for things.”
He pointed out, for example, that the destruction of the basilica and cathedral in Norcia, evokes a loss of central Italy's artistic heritage, but the media “can't imagine it signifying a collapse of faith or of the fundamental values of Christian civilization.” The earthquake then, “despite being used in common parlance to indicate cultural and social upheaval, can never defer to divine intervention, because God can only be presented as merciful, never as just.”
Those who do link it to divine intervention, he said, immediately find themselves slandered in the media, as happened to Father Cavalcoli. “If there is a scandal there, it is caused by the position of the Vatican prelate who displays ignorance of Catholic theology and the teachings of the popes,” De Mattei said, and cited the following words from Benedict XVI, spoken at a general audience in May 2011, on the subject of God’s punishment exacted on Sodom and Gomorrah:
“The Lord was prepared to forgive, he wanted to forgive but the cities were locked into a totalizing and paralyzing evil, without even a few innocents from whom to start in order to turn evil into good. This the very path to salvation that Abraham too was asking for: being saved does not mean merely escaping punishment but being delivered from the evil that dwells within us. It is not punishment that must be eliminated but sin, the rejection of God and of love which already bears the punishment in itself. The Prophet Jeremiah was to say to the rebellious people: “Your wickedness will chasten you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God” (Jer 2:19).”De Mattei recalled that between August and September 2016 the first civil unions took place in Italy after Prime Minister Matteo Renzi signed it into law on July 23. “This law is a moral earthquake because it breaks down the natural walls of divine law,” the historian said. “How can one imagine that this wretched law won’t have consequences?”
“Today,” he said, “man rebels against God and nature rebels against man. Or rather, man rebels against the natural law, which has its basis in God, and the disorder of nature explodes.”
The new law, he added, “does not destroy houses, but the institution of the family, producing moral and social devastation no less serious than that of a physical earthquake. Who can deny us the right to think that the disorder of nature is allowed by God as a result of the denial of the natural order implemented by the ruling classes of the West?”
De Mattei also applied the symbolism of ruined churches (they bore the brunt of the destruction in the most recent quake) with the current state of the Catholic Church. He had earlier noted how the basilica of St. Benedict, built on the site of the saint's birthplace, "remains only a flimsy facade", and mentioned how American media, such as CNN, "stressed the symbolic nature of the event."
“They [the destroyed churches] are the expression of an ecclesiastical world in ruins, that draws upon itself other ruins,” he said, adding that he believes the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia and the recent commemoration of the Reformation in Sweden “have certainly not helped to restore order to this shattered world.”
“The Pope repeats that we should not build walls but tear them down,” he noted. “Well the walls are crumbling, but with them, the Catholic faith and morals are collapsing. Christian civilization is collapsing, which, in Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict, has as its symbolic cradle.”
But he added that the statue of St. Benedict still stands in the center of the square, around which monks, nuns and lay people gathered to recite the Rosary. “This is also a symbolic message that speaks to us of the only possible reconstruction: that which is done on one’s knees, praying,” he said.
And along with prayer, he added, must come “action, the fight, the public witness to our faith in the Church and in Christian civilization that will rise from the rubble. Our Lady of Fatima promised this.
“But before the triumph of the Immaculate Heart,” he concluded, “the Blessed Virgin also envisaged punishment for unrepentant mankind. We must have the courage to remember that.”
SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP AS DIVINE RETRIBUTION AGAINST THE OBAMA/CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AS WELL AS EARTHQUAKES IN ITALY?