Watch Evening News weeknights at 6:30 p.m. ET.
VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Vatican News has deleted from its website a write-up on the environmental benefits of the Wuhan virus after outraged readers lashed out at the article following its publication on the Holy See's official news service Twitter feed.
The column headlined "Coronavirus: earth's unlikely ally" by Jesuit priest Fr. Benedict Mayaki, claimed that "the changes in human behavior due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic are yielding unintended benefits to the planet."
In the article, Fr. Mayaki claimed: "Earth is healing herself" as a result of "the reduction in human activity."
Coronavirus was an ecological boon to the world, as "the global reduction in air, land and sea travel is yielding benefits for the planet as carbon emission sees a projected decline," Mayaki trumpeted.
"In Italy, fish have returned to the canals in Venice. Less tourism and water transport have allowed the murky waters to settle. Migratory birds, including swans have been sighted gliding through the city's waterways," he wrote.
Failing to indict China for its role in the origin and spread of the virus, Mayaki noted that "China, the world's largest carbon emitter, now has a significant decrease in the concentration of nitrogen dioxide in the air" because of the "decline of economic and industrial activities during the coronavirus outbreak."
The Jesuit also hailed the merit of "improvement in its air quality" for Hong Kong, as "key air pollutants dropped by nearly a third from January to February this year."
Distinguished Catholic writer Dr. John Zmirak expressed his outrage to Church Militant, noting: "It's one thing for historians to look back on the Black Plague and conclude that after the massive damage it caused, society bounced back — in some ways even stronger, since land was more plentiful, wages rose and serfs gained more rights."
"But can you imagine during the plague, people's own pastors sitting around idle (Masses not just private but canceled), reflecting on how the plague was improving things at the moment? They would have been burned as witches," the author of 12 books fumed.
Social media exploded with rage against the piece which explicitly cited the eco-theology of Pope Francis as its inspiration.
"In his 2015 encyclical on the care of our common home (Laudato si’), Pope Francis highlights the urgency of taking care of the earth," the author stated, quoting the pontiff: "Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last 200 years."
He asked, "Can you even begin to imagine how your words impact the tens of thousands mourning the loss of loved ones, not to mention the tens of millions suffering the destruction of their livelihoods in the wake of this disaster?" lamenting: "Your disregard for their plight cannot be more obvious."
Less than a day after it was published, Vatican News pulled the piece from its website with no apology or notice of retraction.
"Eleven thousand dead in Italy, the same soon enough in Spain, millions upon millions of people left destitute by the depression — and you celebrate this tragedy because it's supposedly 'good for the earth?' Are you completely out of your minds?!?! Please, delete this article!" the traditionalist Catholic Rorate Caeli fired back.
Thomas Cole, chair of the theology department at Holy Spirit Preparatory School, Atlanta, Georgia, suggested that "the Jesuit might fact-check the claims about Venice," in a recent National Geographic article which debunked "fake happy news" stories about dolphins in a canal and swans returning to Venetian canals.
The leftwing Guardian has also quoted the U.N.'s environment chief Inger Andersen saying: "Nature is sending us a message with the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis."
Mayaki's article follows Pope Francis' March 22 interview with a Spanish journalist, in which he speculated that the pandemic is Mother Nature "throwing a tantrum" in protest at the way human beings have treated her. "Fires, earthquakes … nature is throwing a tantrum so that we will take care of her," Francis remarked.
Church Militant traced Francis' "Gaia theology" to ex-priest and liberation theologian Leonardo Boff's proposal that the coronavirus pandemic is goddess Gaia's "reprisal" for atrocities against Mother Nature and to James Lovelock's pantheistic hypothesis that the earth is a self-regulating living superorganism.
Readers can offer feedback to Vatican News at email@example.com.