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
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
as long as creation has not
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
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,
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.