Pope Benedict XVI, on a visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp yesterday, asked God a simple question: why did he remain silent during the "unprecedented mass crimes" of the Holocaust?
"In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there can be only a dread silence, a silence which itself is a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?" the Pope said.
It's a good question though the Holocaust was one man's crime against another. But it's a question we can ask with even greater relevance in all natural disasters, over which we somehow presume He (She?) has even greater control.
We can ask the same question of the tsunami. How could He (or She) allow it? How could the fates of people on several continents and countries all be intertwined at the same moment? How could the poorest of the poor who look up to Him (or Her) for a leg up be crushed under His (or Her) benign gaze?
It's a question you can ask of the Indonesian earthquake last week. It's a question you ask of every flood, fire, volcano, drought, famine.
Maybe because that's His (or Her) "style" and He (or She) needn't explain? Maybe because He (or She) is a macro-manager who looks at the big picture, not a micro-manager who involves himself in the nitty-gritty? Maybe because He (or She) wants to show who is the boss? Maybe because He (or She) just doesn't care? Maybe because He (or She) doesn't exist?
If the Pope's still searching for an answer, maybe these are not a silly doubts, after all.