Pope Francis wears a face mask during ceremony in Rome

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Francis is said to have made the remarks to Don Marco Pozza, an author who is also chaplain of a prison in the northern Italian city of Padua, as part of his new book ‘Of Vice and Virtues’. The 84-year-old is said to have recalled the Biblical story of Noah, who follows God’s instructions to build an ark to save his family and all animals before the Great Flood wipes out humanity. In the book published this week, the Pontiff said the flood was due to God’s wrath “against injustice, against Satan,” but used the story to draw attention to the potential impacts of worsening global warming.

He is then quoted as saying: “Humanity is facing another ‘great deluge,’ perhaps due to a rise in temperature and the melting of glaciers.”

But some online users have taken issue with the reference. 

One tweet reads: “Pope Francis warns of a second ‘Great Flood’ from global warming. 

“The Pope might profit from a Bible study.”

Another added: “The Pope says there will be another Great Flood, the Bible says there won’t.”

A third stated: “The Pope warns of another Great Flood, but didn’t he read Genesis? God promises that never again will all flesh be cut off by a flood?”

And a fourth asked: “Did Pope Francis forget that God promised to never do that again?”

The online comments appear to be referencing Genesis 9:8 – 17, which tells how the Biblical story unfolded.

A section reads: “I establish my covenant with you – never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood, never again will there be a flood to destroy the Earth.”

But it is unlikely that the Pope was directly referring to God creating a future ‘Great Flood’.

The Vatican leader has made repeated appeals for global action on the climate crisis to prevent future destruction by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

In September, he wrote that the Covid pandemic has shown how the planet can recover “if we allow it to rest” and must spur people to adopt simpler lifestyles to help a planet “groaning” under the constant demand for economic growth.

He wrote: “Already we can see how the Earth can recover if we allow it to rest – the air becomes cleaner, the waters clearer, and animals have returned to many places from where they had previously disappeared. 

“The pandemic has brought us to a crossroads.”

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Experts have repeatedly appeared to support what the Pope is referring to, after warning that global sea levels are rising at a concerning level.

Between 1900 and 2016, the globally averaged sea level rose by 16–21cm, with an acceleration of 7.5cm from 1993 to 2017. 

This acceleration is due mostly to human-caused global warming, which is driving thermal expansion of seawater and the melting of land-based ice sheets and glaciers.

Some have even warned that coastal cities like New York and London could one day be submerged.

In Mr Pozza’s new book, published on Tuesday, the Pope also added that God’s “wrath” can also be viewed as a “saviour,” as it prompted Noah to act.

The writer has conducted three previous interviews with the Pope, which were aired on Italian television and published as books.

The 41-year-old priest first came to the Pope’s attention in 2016, when he brought a group of inmates to visit Francis at his residence, the Casa Santa Marta, on the Jubilee of Prisoners in the Year of Mercy. 

This weekend, the religious leader is set to travel to Iraq, a trip which the Vatican has been forced to defend due to rising coronavirus infections in the Middle Eastern country.

The Vatican described the visit, the Pope’s first foreign trip in a year, as an “act of love for this land, for its people and for its Christians”.

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