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Pope Francis Says Coronavirus May Be Symptom of Climate Crisis

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Pope Francis delivers his homily on April 9, 2020 behind closed doors at St. Peter's basilica in the Vatican. ALESSANDRO DI MEO / POOL / AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis spoke about the novel coronavirus, suggesting that the global pandemic might be one of nature's responses to the man-made climate crisis.


In an interview published Wednesday in The Tablet and Commonwealth magazines, the leader of the Roman Catholic church said the world should take stock of what damage the rate of production and consumption has caused to the natural world, as CNN reported.

"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, as The New York Post reported.

The pontiff's answers came in response to a question about whether the global pandemic might lead to ecological conversion, where people lead more environmentally conscious lives with the understanding that the natural world is part of God's creation, according to The New York Post.

"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?" the pope said, as CNN reported. "I don't know if these are the revenge of nature, but they are certainly nature's responses."

"This is the time to take the decisive step, to move from using and misusing nature to contemplating it," he added, as The New York Post reported.

The Vatican closed Saint Peter's Square and Basilica to the public in early March as the outbreak's effects became more pronounced throughout Italy, according to The Hill. The Vatican has reported seven confirmed cases of the virus in its ranks.

On Palm Sunday, the pope celebrated mass in an empty church.

The pope, 83, said in the interview that the "Curia is trying to carry on its work, and to live normally," using shifts to avoid crowding.

Pope Francis has been tested twice for coronavirus. As an elderly man, with a damaged lung from an infection in his 20s and recovering from bronchitis, he is particularly vulnerable to the most severe symptoms associated with COVID-19. Therefore, he is taking particular precaution, according to The Vatican press office. He eats his meals in private, keeps a distance from anyone who might be carrying the virus, and uses hand sanitizer before and after meeting any guests, CNN reported.

In the interview, Pope Francis addressed what he sees from world leaders. He denounced "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," as The Hill reported.

In particular, he highlighted the callous way the homeless were treated in Las Vegas.

"A photo appeared the other day of a parking lot in Las Vegas where they [the homeless] had been put in quarantine. And the hotels were empty. But the homeless cannot go to a hotel," the Pope said, as CNN reported. "This is the moment to see the poor," he said, adding that society often treats those in need as "rescued animals."

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