they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, "We will serve you if you will get us free from the French." True story. And so, the devil said, "OK, it's a deal."This is not only bad theology, but it is irresponsible. I know that there are many good people who watch Pat Robertson and follow his teachings, but I would like to respond from an orthodox Christian - and Catholic - perspective on the situation, not only because falsehoods should be corrected, but because there are many people who are enraged by his comments, both Christian and non-Christian.
And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. Desperately poor. That island of Hispaniola is one island. It's cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti; on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, et cetera. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I'm optimistic something good may come. But right now, we're helping the suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable.
1 - The devil is very real, but he does not have unlimited power over the world.
The Catechism says:
''The power of Satan is, nonetheless, only finite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign" (CCC, 395).The devil is a fallen angel and a powerful spiritual being. His hatred of God and good things is what drives him to seek out the fall of humans and their eternal suffering in hell. His power is demonstrated in the Sacred Scriptures when we see demonic possession of humans (e.g. Mk 1:21-28; Lk 4:31-37; Mt 8: 32-33; etc.), the tempting of Christ (Matt 4) as well as many other references of demonic activity. The primary way he manifests his power is through temptation of humans to sin. We have all experienced temptations and the struggle that goes along with it, though not all are from demons - some are from our own fallen nature and passions. To deny that the devil has power is to allow him a victory over us. Charles Baudelaire once said that the devil's greatest trick was to convince us that he does not exist. Yet, his power is not unlimited and he cannot force us to hell, we have to choose it.
One of several extraordinary way the devil works is through what is sometimes called "local infestation" (others are through possession and personal infestation). This is when the devil has direct contact with non-human parts of the created world such as plants, animals, or inanimate objects. This can lead to physical harm, but it is not the cause of natural disasters, but local (think relatively small) areas or objects. When the final tribulation of the earth comes, the devil will be released to have a much broader ability to work in the created world (Rev 20).
2 - Natural Disasters are a Result of Original Sin and a Fallen World
We live in a world that is fallen. This means that the original plan of unity and peace has been broken. All of creation is crying out for redemption (Rom 8:19-22) and awaits the coming of Christ to end all suffering, sin, brokenness, death, and disunity. All of the world suffers because of the fall and thus we have inexplainable tragedies that happen, like this earthquake.
Problems arise when we try to assign an actor behind the tragedy as the cause to the tragedy. Some say God uses natural disasters to chastise his people and bring them to repentance. While there is biblical precedence to such an act, we cannot know for certain God has actively willed anything, unless He directly tells us so. Some others say the devil caused a natural disaster as punishment for their selling out to him, as is the case with Robertson here. The problem is that we do not know, in this life, the meaning behind many of the things that happen in our world. God allows them all, and for good reason, but may not reveal these reasons to us. What we can do is rest our hopes on God's almighty providence - He knows what is best for us.
From the Catechism:
"The witness of Scripture is unanimous that the solicitude of divine providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history. The sacred books powerfully affirm God's absolute sovereignty over the course of events: "Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases."162 And so it is with Christ, "who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens".163 As the book of Proverbs states: "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established." (CCC 303).To try and find meaning to such disasters is to try and explain the mind of God.
3 - Pat Robertson Needs a History Lesson.
He made several errors. Napoleon III had nothing to do with the formation of Haiti. The Haitians revolted the same time the French did, during Napoleon I's reign. Also, there are many other details that he gets wrong and then he cites a legend, with no basis in real history, as the cause. Read here for more on how he messed up.
Pat Robertson has bad theology, little common sense, and is making a presumption that he knows the mind of God, all based on bad history, legend and innuendo.
Don't listen to him. Listen to the one who was guaranteed not to lead us into error - Holy Mother Church guided by the Holy Spirit.
Pray for Haiti.
Pray for Pat Robertson.
Send money or assist in other ways if you can.
UPDATE: CBN has issued a statement defending Robertson.