200 killed during mass in Peru


I got this email on the following topic

Senior Member Join Date: July 23, 2005
Posts: 316

Why did God allow this to happen?

My husband read to me an article from newspaper yesterday that over 200 people died in Peru when a Catholic church collapsed just minutes before mass ended killing the faithful from an earthquake. Had these people committed sin and missed mass their lives probably would have been spared! Now why would God allow something like this to happen and just minutes before the people were to leave the church?? (my Protestant sister pointed out to me that it was a CATHOLIC church God smithed!)

… and Fr. Serpa answered:

Fr. Vincent Serpa
Catholic Answers Apologist Join Date: May 4, 2004
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 1,713

Re: Why did God allow this to happen?


God alone knows the best time for us to return to Him. If these people had committed sin by deliberately missing Mass, then they would have been far worse off than attending Mass and being called home! To see their death as the worse option is to see it without the benefit of faith. We have to think outside the human box. Life here is not our home. It is merely a preparation for our eternal union with God—which IS home!

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

I wonder if anyone were in a state of mortal sin while they were at the mass? And given that possibility would a merciful loving God call His sinful children back to church only to kill them and sentence them to hell for an eternity? Why not let the people in church live and be rewarded with little more of a chance to repent and find God again? This story raises questions…at least for me.
Anyone else?


God’s ways have been a mystery and cause of theological debates and emotional questions for thousands of years.
Of course, we don’t know the condition of the hearts of those who were at the mass and died. But if there were somebody in mortal sin, they certainly had a chance to repent of it there better then anywhere else.
I heard on a radio about this WWII Catholic chaplain crawling around foxholes on a battle field. He gave the Holy Eucharist and blessing to one soldier, and moved one to a next one. Just moments later a grenade hit the foxhole of the soldier. The priest hurried back, and found the young lad still breathing his last. “What a blessing”, the soldier said, "I just received Jesus in the Eucharist and now am going to see Him face to face."
What a great way to die (not just for this man, but also for these Peruvians): during a mass. I also think it’s a blessing to leave this world right after receiving Christ.


As I just mentioned, for all we know, everybody there could have gone straight to heaven. But let’s assume the worst: there were some people in the state of mortal sin. Then God had given them a chance, as they could have gone to confession before or during the mass (don’t know how it’s done in Peru, but in several countries there are confessions during mass). And even if they for some reason didn’t get to confession (lines were too long and their turn hadn’t come yet), God sees their hearts and their intentions, so they should be “ok”.
But if somebody there had flatly refused God’s chance, then there is only so many chances a just (though loving) God can give to people (if I can so so). After all, if they had died in some other (more “natural”) situation, one could say that God could have given more chances, more time for them to repent…
So, as far as I see, it is not as important that somebody in a state of mortal sin dies in a church (it is actually better for the person as he/she was given this extra chance), but rather, we should remember what Jesus said in Luke 13:1-5.


God did not “kill them” and certainly God does not sentence us to hell for eternity. The earthquake which caused the building to fall “killed” these folks. While it may be true that God did not intervene to stop this, we could hurl that accusation at God every second of every day when life’s big and little tragedies occur. Rather than ask the question “why did God let this happen”, perhaps we should look instead to the ways in which God does intervene. I read this story and see the miracle of being blessed enough to actually die in God’s prescence. In all probablitily, a person who is actually at Mass would have a greater tendency to be repentent if in fact they were in a state of mortal sin. Clearly they already have faith and belief so they are in a better position than most people who don’t even attend Mass.

The loss for the families is terrible, of course, but I honestly think that being taken home to God while in His earthly abode is a glorious way to go.


Man! what a blessing!

I can’t think of a single place I’d rather be when my time comes than among the angels and saints at Mass having just received the Body of Christ.:heaven:


If you were All-Powerful God and you could prevent one of your children whom you loved more deeply than we could imagine, from suffering in hell for an eternity by stopping them from being killed in a mass that they attended in the first place because they thought it was right. Wouldn’t you grant that? Isn’t it true that if someone dies in state of mortal sin they go immediately and permanently to hell? If God didn’t kill them He still didn’t prevent it. Put it this way, if a car is coming down the street and your child sits obliviously in road and you don’t stop the car from running over your child, are you innocent of wrongdoing because afterall YOU didn’t Kill him or her YOURSELF - the CAR KILLED him/her!


The difference is that a person in the state of mortal sin is in no way an innocent, oblivious child who God suddenly smites and punishes in hell just for the kicks of it. Instead, it’s a rebellious adult who willfully challenges the fate, runs on the road, and pushes and fights with God when He tries to bring that person back. Though it might still seem unfair that God wouldn’t stop the person, but ask a parent of a killed son/daughter what would they do in such a situation, if that rebellious guy was that killer; how long would they try to restrain that person?
I wouldn’t try to make God the guilty one in this situation, because it is not Him willfully rebelling. It’s like blaming your parents when you get in big trouble because you weren’t listening to them.
Despite all our wickedness and rebellions throughout the history of mankind, God has not stopped loving us (as people and each individually) and forgiving us n-times, and even gave us His own Son, so that we could be with Him.


…I want to believe and I think I do. I’m just looking for some answers in my life right now and the usual " God’s ways are mysterious" isn’t workin for me lately. I don’t want to hurt others’ faith, my own faith has been shaken due to some personal events and I thought the Peruvian earthquake was at least a good metaphor for that.


Certainly understandable. No one should be afraid to ask questions and be honest about their feelings in situations like these.


When I heard about this, I thought, “What a great grace”. If we think about it, those people couldn’t be in a better place. Mass takes away our venial sins, and all those people had just received the Eucharist. They did not die suddenly as those outside the Church had without the Sacraments! I believe those people were truly blessed! Who knows how many escaped time in Purgatory because of the timing of that earthquake?
At least that’s what I thought.


I know that if you had gone to Mass and die, the effect of hearing Mass would already be a plenary indulgence for your sins, lessening your time in Purgatory. So those who died while at Mass would at least have that grace given to them.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.