Why did God allow this to happen?
He created a world which is so beautiful, full of power, ah, full of, ah, possibilities that at times — water, for example, a fantastic, ah, reality, can at one time, ah, be a devastating thing. Is God, God, a slot machine in which we put in things, and good things come out and bad things come out? No. I actually believe that God is fully engaged, and I have nothing actually to say that makes sense of this horror. All I, all I know, is that the message of Christmas, the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus, is that he’s with us. Um, Rabbi Hugo Green, is, I think said something more beautiful, when he was asked “Where was God when Jews were being gassed?” And he said, “God was being blasphemed and violated.” And what makes it more difficult because if you believe that everybody is made in the image and likeness of God, disaster like this actually make it appalling and very difficult, because what you are seeing is the face of God being disfigured, ah, and that is quite — pretty, pretty appalling.
But we are told two things, aren’t we? We’re told God is merciful and all-powerful.
How can those be reconciled with what happens to a country like Haiti at a time like this?
Well, for the Christian, you’ve got to see the God who is very much like Christ-like, and in him there is no un-Christ-likeness. Ah, you know, St. Augustine of Hippo said, he lies in a manger but contains the world, he feeds at the breast but also feeds the angels, is wrapped in swaddling clothes but vests us with immortality, you see.
I’m not sure I understand that answer, to be perfectly frank with you. I don’t quite see what it has to do with the question.
The question is that the God we’re dealing with, who is merciful and powerful, has shown his face to us in the person of Jesus, and if you believe that God is very much like Jesus of Nazareth, questions of power, questions of mercy, ultimately find their answer not in a sort of a slot-machine-type God, but actually a god who is with us alongside us, and his power is made more stronger, not in dictatorship, but in terms of mercifulness, in humility, and coming alongside us.
But what you seem to be arguing for here, is precisely the slot-machine-type God, because slot machines are random. The suffering that is imposed, that has been imposed upon these people of Haiti – clearly entirely innocent people, many, many children amongst them – that is random, just like a slot machine.
No, no, no, no, no! Jesus was asked that question, ah, when there was a [undecipherable] which killed a lot of people. People were assuming that those who died because they were wicked. And Jesus said, “No not at all.” Don’t be complacent. Don’t think you can comfort yourself by saying that bad things only happen to bad people. Everyone needs to be aware of their fragility and vulnerability, and of their need for one another, and for God. You see, we are a family. When one weeps we all weep, and I’m, I’m afraid the world as it is, has got tremendous beauty, tremendous power, within it, earthquakes, uh, fire, this can be devastating, and it depends on where you live, and you think, well, why did they live in that place? Now with science, now, for example you know, that the early warning system for the tsunami can actually warn people when this is happening, because our world is a world which we are not masters of.
So what do you have to say to somebody like Pat Robertson, the American evangelical preacher and candidate for president of the United States, indeed, at one point, who seemed to be playing, blaming Haitians themselves for what has happened to them — the country, he says, swore a pact to the Devil at its creation. So in other words they deserved it.
No! I, I think anybody who talks like this need to sit at the foot of the cross of Jesus. Where what actually you do is don’t throw stones. I think he’s absolutely wrong, ah, Haiti is very close to America, and you would have thought that for these generations when the, the, government nearly collapsed, the United Nations was the only thing that giving sense of it, that America would have come to their aid, and I’m very grateful that, and thankful, that president Obama is taking a more proactive, ah, umm, on, help on their doorstep. So Pat Robertson, I’m sorry — he’s totally wrong, he should reread his Bible properly and he should realize that, like my mother said, never point a finger, because when you do, three other fingers are pointing back at you.
Archbishop, many thanks.