A Vatican cardinal has urged Catholic “fundamentalists” to give up on their “theory” that the coronavirus pandemic is God’s “revenge”.

– “A change in convictions”

With respect to the COVID-19 outbreak, “I believe that this situation will lead to a change in convictions”, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi told Spanish religion news website Vida Nueva in an April 3 interview.

“Let’s hope, furthermore, that the fundamentalists abandon their theory that the pandemic is due to a punishment from God or to revenge”, added the cardinal, who has been the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture since 2007.

– The Christian God “dies by suffocation, just like these sick people”

In his conversation with Vida Nueva, the Vatican ‘culture Minister’ expressed his hope that the coronavirus pandemic “can lead to a return to spirituality”.

“In Christianity, God is not impassive; the humanity of Christ is fundamental”, Ravasi explained.

The Christian God “is not the omnipotent god of Olympus, but the one who goes through all human suffering and dies by suffocation, just like these sick people”, the cardinal said.

“Christ is not saved by virtue of his omnipotence, but by that of his impotence”, because in his Passion “he is like any other person”, Ravasi continued, adding: “Christ does not deliver us from pain, but is with us in [it]”.

– After COVID-19, “our economic, social and anthropological model will change”

As for how he personally is living the coronavirus spread, Ravasi said “physically I’m fine, but Lombardy, my homeland, is in an almost catastrophic situation”.

“My hometown is about 20 kilometers from Bergamo, which is today almost a cemetery. It is my place of origin and where I go in the summer, and today there is only suffering on the horizon”, the cardinal lamented.

Ravasi went on to explain that “like any other person, I’m participating in all this profoundly changed atmosphere and which, in my opinion, will have a very strong impact afterwards”.

“The economic, social and anthropological model will change. After going through this storm, people will be different, both for better and for worse. In pain there is an education and an experience”, the cardinal affirmed.

With respect to other lessons the world can learn from the coronavirus, “for both believers and non-believers, this experience teaches us to live with a different scale of values, in which money, success and power are no longer at the top”, Ravasi said.

He added that COVID-19 also “forces us to look death in the eye. It also shows us that we are powerless and have limits”, even with our science and technology.

– Pope Francis “in top form” amid outbreak

Pope Francis, meanwhile, is “in top form” in the midst of the pandemic, according to Ravasi, who met with the pontiff just days ago in a private audience in the Vatican.

“From a physical point of view, he looked to be very well, although carrying on the inside all the suffering of this situation”, the cardinal said.

Ravasi offered as “proof” of how deeply the plight of the coronavirus sick and dead is affecting the Pope the extraordinary Urbi et orbi blessing the pontiff offered March 27.

In that prayer service “it could be seen how this situation is affecting” Francis, according to Ravasi.

In the blessing the Pope carried out alone on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica “all the universal pain of the pandemic was concentrated in him”, the cardinal continued.

“Contemporary society needs symbols, and that was one.

“Luckily, in the Casa Santa Marta, except for the case already known, all residents have been tested for the coronavirus and have tested negative.

“In the Vatican almost everyone is now working from home; there are few of us left in the offices”, Ravasi said.

More on Novena on the theology of the coronavirus:

Pope blesses world, says coronavirus “not God’s judgment” but our “time to choose”

German, Austrian bishops insist coronavirus “not God’s punishment” but “invitation to think”

Cardinal calls “blasphemy” belief coronavirus is punishment from God

Italian cardinal dismisses conspiracy theory that coronavirus is “divine punishment”

Moscow Catholic archbishop: Coronavirus “not a curse or a punishment from God”

Ultraconservative Swiss bishop gets served after claiming coronavirus “God’s punishment”

“Horror clown”, “cynical” Swiss bishop muzzled for “irresponsible and dangerous” coronavirus “superstition”

Cardinal, theologian blame coronavirus on “rich countries’ aimless experiments”, “retaliation of Gaia”


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