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Ann Naffziger Answers:
For millennia, humans have looked upon suffering or evil in the world and asked this question. If God is perfect, then how come our world isn’t perfect? Why is there evil and pain in this world? Did God make a mistake(s) in creating an imperfect world? Does God still make mistakes? Our Catholic teaching answers a resounding “no” to these questions.
Various teachings from the ancient creeds, the early Church fathers, and the Catechism state the following:
“God is the fullness of Being and of all perfection … In God, power, essence, will, intellect, wisdom, and justice are all identical… God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us…”
When we ponder the suffering present in this world, we return to the mystery of free will and the realization that we – humans – have to take responsibility for what we do that hurts one another. As the catechism states
“God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil. He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures, and mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it.”
As an example here, consider Jesus’ crucifixion. One might reasonably ask if God made a mistake in sending his only Son to this earth – an act that ended with Jesus being mocked, tortured, and brutally killed. But the Church would have us shift the question because we believe in God’s ultimate perfection. Looked at this way, we can see that God is able to write straight with crooked lines. Human sin, not a mistake on God’s part, led to Jesus’ death, and still God was able to bring new life out of death. “God in his almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil … caused by his creatures.” (CCC 312) It is not God who makes the mistakes, it is us, imperfect humans still journeying toward perfection in an imperfect world.