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Part One

creation, the drama of sin, and the patient love of God who comes

to meet man by his covenants, the redemptive Incarnation of his

Son, his gift of the Spirit, his gathering of the Church, the power of

the sacraments, and his call to a blessed life to which free creatures

are invited to consent in advance, but from which, by a terrible

mystery, they can also turn away in advance.

There is not a single

aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the

question of evil.


But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil

could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create

something better.


But with infinite wisdom and goodness God

freely willed to create a world “in a state of journeying” toward its

ultimate perfection. In God’s plan this process of becoming in-

volves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of

others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect,

both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical

good there exists also

physical evil

as long as creation has not

reached perfection.



Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to

journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and

preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have

sinned. Thus has

moral evil,

incommensurably more harmful than

physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or

indirectly, the cause of moral evil.


He permits it, however,

because he respects the freedomof his creatures and, mysteriously,

knows how to derive good from it:

For almighty God . . . , because he is supremely good, would

never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he

were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to

emerge from evil itself.



In time we can discover that God in his almighty provi-

dence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a

moral evil, caused by his creatures: “It was not you,” said Joseph

to his brothers, “who sent me here, but God . . . . You meant evil

against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many

people should be kept alive.”


From the greatest moral evil ever

committed—the rejection and murder of God’s only Son, caused

174 Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas,


I, 25, 6.

175 Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas,


III, 71.

176 Cf. St. Augustine,

De libero arbitrio

1, 1, 2: PL 32, 1223; St. Thomas Aquinas,


I-II, 79, 1.

177 St. Augustine,


3, 11: PL 40, 236.



45:8; 50:20; cf.


2:12-18 (Vulg.).