Question from Lynn on 4/7/2008:
I am a CCD teacher for 7th grade and two of my male students cannot understand if God loves us and wants what is best for us why God does not stop all human suffering. They want to know why God allows babies to die and people to murder other people. They want to know why life is so full of pain and sorrow when God can make it go away.
Answer by Matthew Bunson on 4/22/2008:
What you ask goes to one of the greatest and most debated question in human existence, what is called in philosophical circles theodicy. I would encourage you to read and then present to your class Pope John Paul II’s magnificent work on human suffering, Salvifici Doloris. It is available here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_11021984_salvifici-doloris_en.html
You might also consider reading: John Paul II and the Meaning of Suffering: Lessons from a Spiritual Master by Robert G. Schroeder and Suffering: The Catholic Answer by Hubert Van Zeller and Dom Hubert Van Zeller.