“God doesn’t punish people, we punish ourselves”, a Spanish Benedictine has insisted with respect to the COVID-19 outbreak.

– “What kind of God could punish humanity with a pandemic?”

“What kind of God could be capable of punishing humanity with a pandemic?”, Josep Miquel Bausset, a monk of Spain’s famous Montserrat Abbey, in the Catalonia region, wrote May 5 in Religión Digital.

“Obviously not be the God of Jesus, who is the God of love and mercy”, Bausset answered his own question.

The religious went on to reflect that if COVID-19 really were God’s punishment, “how could it be that COVID-19 affects equally the rich and the poorest and the most defenseless, when the latter are the most beloved of God?”

“How could God punish with the coronavirus those he created? How could God want evil for men, if Jesus spent his whole life healing the sick and restoring health to those who had lost it?”, Bausset asked.

– “God has no hands but ours”

To those who believe the virus or wars or hunger are evidence of God’s wrath on a sinful humanity, Bausset had a simple piece of advice:

“Remember the words attributed to Saint Teresa of Jesus when she said: ‘God has no hands; his hands are ours'”.

“We are the ones who are responsible for wars, famine or pandemics, since it is we (and not God) who cause misery, warfare or natural disasters, altering or attacking the natural course of the Earth”, the Benedictine explained.

Because of our own guilt in the situation in which we now find ourselves, the monk continued, “we must be the ones who find a solution to this pandemic ‘with the contagion of hope’, as the Pope asks us, so as in this way to alleviate the economic crisis that we already have among us and to avoid the social crisis that could be caused by the loss of jobs”.

“The situation caused by the coronavirus must help us to open our hearts and arms to all who suffer and to the planet, which we are destroying with our egocentrism”, Bausset urged.

The religious doubled down: “It is not God who punishes people. It is we ourselves who, with greed and insensitivity to the suffering of the planet – seriously ill – continue to exploit our brothers and mistreat the Earth”.

Bausset cited as proof for his claim the fact that, as it begins to come out now of one of the world’s most stringent lockdowns, Spain has over these eight weeks of confinement recorded the largest drop in CO2 emissions in its history.

– Re-emergence from isolation, an Easter experience

With regard, finally, to the lessons of COVID-19 for the Church, Bausset drew a parallel between believers living in confinement and the apostles who were also locked up out of fear on Easter Sunday.

Today, in the context of the coronavirus, “Jesus also enters our homes and hearts and tells us: ‘Peace be with you'”, Bausset wrote.

“The peace and joy that come to us from the Risen Lord comfort us and encourage us to face this difficult situation that we are experiencing”, the monk concluded.

More on Novena on the theology of COVID-19:

German Bishops’ president warns against COVID-19 conspiracy theorists, retributivists: “God does not punish”

Vatican official: COVID-19 “not God’s punishment, but our own self-punishment”

Portuguese cardinal calls “ignorance, fanaticism or madness” belief COVID-19 is God’s punishment

Spanish cardinal: “No way” is COVID-19 punishment from God


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.