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Pope Francis: World could face a new ‘great flood’

PopeFrancisSquarePoint.jpg Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 22, 2016. Credit: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

Pope Francis said in a new book released on Tuesday that the world could face a catastrophe like the Great Flood if human beings fail to address climate change.

The pope made the remark in a new book-length interview with the Italian priest Fr. Marco Pozza published on March 2.

In “Of Vices and Virtues” (“Dei vizi e delle virtù”), published in Italian by Rizzoli, the two men discussed the account of the Great Flood in the Book of Genesis. 

According to an excerpt from the book in the newspaper Corriere delle Sera, the pope said: “A great flood, perhaps due to a rise in temperature and the melting of glaciers: that is what will happen if we continue on the same path.”

In the book, the priest and the pope reflect on the seven virtues and vices, inspired by the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. The chapel contains 14 monochrome images by the 14th-century artist Giotto which personify the virtues and vices. 

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On the north wall are the vices: foolishness, inconstancy, wrath, injustice, infidelity, envy, and desperation. On the south wall are the virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, faith, charity, and hope.

The pope’s comments about the flood came during a discussion of God’s wrath, which he said was directed against evil emanating from satan.

“The wrath of God seeks to bring justice and to ‘cleanse.’ The Flood is the result of God’s wrath, according to the Bible,” he said.

He noted that experts regarded the flood as a mythical story. He stressed that he did not wish to be misquoted as saying that the Bible is a myth, but suggested that myth was a form of knowledge.

“The flood is a historical account, archaeologists say, because they found evidence of a flood in their excavations,” he said.

After referring to a possible new great flood, he said: “God unleashed his wrath, but he saw a righteous man, took him and saved him.” 

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“The story of Noah shows that the wrath of God is also a saving one.”

Pozza, a chaplain at a prison in the northern Italian city of Padua, has conducted three previous interviews with Pope Francis, dedicated to the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Creed, which were aired on Italian television and published as books.

The 41-year-old priest, who often appears casually dressed, is considered a rising star in the Italian media. Early in his priestly life, he gained the nickname “Fr. Spritz,” after a popular Italian wine-based cocktail, because of his custom of holding discussions with young people in bars over drinks.

Pozza first came to the pope’s attention in 2016, when he brought a group of inmates to visit Francis at his residence, the Casa Santa Marta, on the Jubilee of Prisoners in the Year of Mercy. 

He helped to compile the meditations for last year’s papal Stations of the Cross, held in a deserted St. Peter’s Square on Good Friday.

In the new book, the pope also discussed the relationship between faith and doubt. He argued that although the devil sowed doubts, an honest reckoning with doubt could lead to spiritual growth.

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According to Vatican News, he said: “The thought of being abandoned by God is an experience of faith which many saints have experienced, along with many people today who feel abandoned by God, but do not lose faith. They take care to watch over the gift: ‘Right now I feel nothing, but I guard the gift of faith.’” 

“The Christian who has never gone through these states of mind lacks something, because it means that they have settled for less. Crises of faith are not failures against faith. On the contrary, they reveal the need and desire to enter more fully into the depths of the mystery of God. A faith without these trials leads me to doubt that it is true faith.”

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