In a recently published book, Pope Francis warned that global warming could bring about a “second great flood.” Some critics were quick to point out that his statement seemed to contradict the promise made by God never to bring another flood. But one expert explained taht the pontiff’s statements were actually entirely consistent with the Biblical text.
Pope Francis: Global Warming May Case “Repeat of the Great Flood”
In “Dei vizi e delle virtù” (Of Vices and Virtues), published in Italian on Tuesday, Pope Francis warned that humanity could face a repeat of the Great Flood that wiped out almost all of humanity in the generation of Noah.
“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,” Pope Francis said to the Italian priest Fr. Marco Pozza who transcribed the pope’s statements.
Pope Francis explained that the first flood was the result of God’s wrath against the sins of humanity. In the book, he urges world leaders towards ‘prudence’, saying it is the role of governments to “stop and think” before acting rashly.
Pope Francis said that the flood was due to God’s wrath “against injustice, against Satan… against evil”.
“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, explaining that it is not God’s will to destroy mankind. “God unleashed his wrath, but he saw a righteous man, took him, and saved him.”
“The story of Noah shows that the wrath of God is also a saving one.”
The pope noted that the Biblical account has been substantiated by science.
“The flood is a historical account, archaeologists say, because they found evidence of a flood in their excavations,” he said.
Biblical Covenant: No More Floods
The statement by the pope seems to contradict the Biblical promise made by God that he would never bring another flood to destroy mankind.
Hashem smelled the pleasing odor, and Hashem said to Himself: “Never again will I doom the earth because of man, since the devisings of man’s mind are evil from his youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living being, as I have done. Genesis 8:21
This divine promise took the form of a universal covenant manifested by the rainbow.
I will maintain My covenant with you: never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. Hashem further said, “This is the sign that I set for the covenant between Me and you, and every living creature with you, for all ages to come. I have set My bow in the clouds, and it shall serve as a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth… That,” Hashem said to Noach, “shall be the sign of the covenant that I have established between Me and all flesh that is on earth. Genesis 9:11-17
No More Divine Floods to Wipe Out Humanity
David Nekrutman, the executive director for the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC), explained that Pope Francis’s statement was, in fact, entirely consistent with the classical Jewish understanding of the verse.
“God promised not to completely wipe out humanity with another flood,” Nekrutman explained. “But that does not mean, of course, that there will not be more floods, even great floods that are horribly catastrophic. They simply will not destroy the world or all of mankind.”
“It is implicit, if not explicit, in the Bible that it is the responsibility of Man to be a faithful steward of God’s Earth. If there is a way to maintain the safety of the planet then we must do so, especially through those who are trained and knowledgeable to do so.”
“This is even more true when there are human factors that contribute to endangering mankind. God promised not to destroy mankind via a flood but the covenant does not preclude mankind from destroying itself or divine destruction coming in some form other than a flood. God will not send a flood to destroy mankind but that does not preclude a manmade catastrophe. The Bible absolutely holds man responsible for the outcome of his actions.”