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Pope Francis disembarks from the aircraft as he arrives at Dublin Airport on August 25, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. Brian Lawless - WPA Pool/Getty Images

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ROME, Italy, April 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis doubled-down on his belief that the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping around the world is “certainly nature’s response” to man’s failure to address humanity’s impact on the environment. 

When asked in an interview published by The Tablet on Wednesday if the current crisis and the economic devastation it is wreaking is a chance for an “ecological conversion,” the Pope responded: 

There is an expression in Spanish: “God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives.” 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.

In March, the Pope said he believes that the coronavirus pandemic is nature “having a fit” in response to environmental pollution. “Fires, earthquakes … that is, nature is having a fit, so that we will take care of nature.”

During his homily at the Urbi et Orbi ceremony on April 1, Pope Francis returned to his theme of linking the coronavirus pandemic to a response from the planet to environmental pollution.

“In this world, that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick,” he said. 

But prelates such as Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes and Bishop Athanasius Schneider see the corona crisis as a punishment from God, just as God has punished His people in the past when they erred into sin and faithlessness. Recently, Bishop Schneider had called the coronavirus crisis “a divine intervention to chastise and purify the sinful world and also the Church.”

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, in a March 29 interview with Michael Matt of The Remnant, also linked the coronavirus to chastisement from God for sin while calling on Pope Francis to “convert” for having brought into the Church the “terrible sacrilege” of the idolatry of Pachamama. 

“The Pope, the Hierarchy, and all Bishops, Priests and Religious must immediately and absolutely convert,” he said. 

“[These clerics] have even committed acts of unprecedented gravity, such as we saw with the adoration of the pachamama idol in the Vatican itself,” he said.

“Indeed, I think Our Lord has rightly become indignant at the great multitude of scandals committed by those who ought to be setting a good example, because they are Shepherds, to the flocks to whom they have been entrusted.”

Pope Francis argued in his interview with The Tablet that the pandemic is an opportunity “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.”

“This is the time to take the decisive step, to move from using and misusing nature to contemplating it. We have lost the contemplative dimension; we have to get it back at this time,” he added.

In vague terms, the Holy Father said he wanted a Church “less attached to certain ways of thinking.”

He explained that the Church as such is, in fact, an institution. “The temptation is to dream of a de-institutionalised Church, a gnostic Church without institutions, or one that is subject to fixed institutions, which would be a Pelagian Church.”

“The one who makes the Church is the Holy Spirit, who is neither gnostic nor Pelagian,” Pope Francis continued. “It is the Holy Spirit who institutionalises the Church, in an alternative, complementary way, because the Holy Spirit provokes disorder through the charisms, but then out of that disorder creates harmony.”

“A tension between disorder and harmony: this is the Church that must come out of the crisis. We have to learn to live in a Church that exists in the tension between harmony and disorder provoked by the Holy Spirit,” Francis said, without explaining how the Holy Spirit can be connected to disorder.

In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes St. Irenaeus, who called the Father “the giver of order.” As creation is “the common work of the Holy Trinity,” and since there is no contradiction in God, also the Son and the Holy Spirit give order.

With files from LifeSite’s Maike Hickson. Pete Baklinski contributed to this report.