Patrick is addressing specifically the question of sin, rather than of suffering in general, and he says:
I do want to expand, though, on something which Dr. Liccione remarks and which I think others have missed: that the free will of created beings is not a defense against the problem of evil, because we could have been created to freely choose the good. Liccione writes that our free will might have been circumscribed to choose between good alternatives, rather than between good and evil; I assert something stronger- that we could have been equipped with the full range of free will (whatever that is supposed to mean) and yet created such as to always freely choose the good.It seems to me that Patrick is perhaps touching on several different ideas here, though perhaps I am reading too much in to a small number of words.
If it is logically possible for a being with free will to always choose the good (as Christians generally affirm), and if an omniscient, omnipotent God knows in the act of creation whether a free-willed being will in fact do so, then it is perfectly possible for such a God to create a being who always freely chooses the good (and in fact Catholics believe that their God has done so- ever heard of Mary?). It is thus possible for such a God to create a cosmos full of freely innocent beings, rather than freely fallen beings.
So arguing that God allows moral evil out of respect for free will is a red herring, since respect for free will does not preclude a universe without sin....
On first pass, it seems that Patrick is suggesting that, given that it is a logical possibility that a being with free will choose the good in any given situation, and thus given that a being with free will may choose the good every single time, that therefore God, being omniscient, could foresee whether any given creature he was about to create would ever sin, and only create the ones that wouldn't.
This strikes me as running afoul of the classic "how does God's omniscience square with our free will" question, as well as casting God in the role of Oedipus' father: Uh, oh. Prophesies look bad on this kid. Please put him out for the wolves before he does anything wrong. (A reader of mythology will know that whether you are Priam or Laius or some other mythological character, exposing the child who is prophesied to bring problems is not the best solution.)
Basically the question is, if we posit this view of God pausing before each person is created to foresee whether that person will sin, how exactly does he know without that person making those choices? If God's knowledge is predictory (is that a word?) then that suggests a deterministic view of the human person -- that given enough knowledge one can predict every choice the human person will make. And that would seem to violate the idea of free will.
If, on the other hand, we take my preferred view that God, being eternal, exists in a sort of Eternal Now and thus knows all things past and future because he experiences all things as present (and thus, experiences all the actions I choose in my life from conception to birth through life to death and judgement in a single instant) then the idea of God foreseeing whether a person would sin and then not creating him if he would ceases to make any sort of sense. That would suggest a situation in which God sees a person sin, and thus retroactively uncreates him. (Every crime a capital crime in that world.)
But perhaps there is some other conception of God's omniscience that I'm not taking into account?
Writing this, I'm struck again by how unappealing the idea of a world in which we don't suffer is. This is rather counter-intuitive, so perhaps it merits another post to try to look into that a little more.