The New Seven Deadly Sins

What is this?

Failing to recycle plastic bags could find you spending eternity in Hell, the Vatican said after drawing up a list of seven deadly sins for our times. The seven, which include polluting the environment, were announced by Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, a close ally of the Pope and the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, one of the Roman Curia’s main court.

Polluting the environment by failing to recycle is one of the new seven deadly sins

The “sins of yesteryear” – sloth, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath and pride – have a “rather individualistic dimension”, he told the Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper.

The new seven deadly, or mortal, sins are designed to make worshippers realise that their vices have an effect on others as well.

What are these “new” seven deadly sins?

Mgr Girotti said genetic modification, carrying out experiments on humans, polluting the environment, causing social injustice, causing poverty, becoming obscenely wealthy and taking drugs were all mortal sins.

The idea of the 7 deadly sins has a history, going back to the 6th century and Pope Gregory the Great. In brief, most theologians recognize two kinds of sins, venial and mortal, and there’s no definitive list of mortal sins, guaranteed to send to straight to the netherworld. It was Dante’s popularization of Gregory’s list that became, de facto, mortal sins, and they were never brought down from the mountain, carved in stone. The UK Times On-Line has it right when they note

Christians are exhorted instead to adhere to the seven holy virtues: chastity, abstinence, temperance, diligence, patience, kindness and humility.

So what this appears to be, is an attempt to do two things; get Catholics to attend, once more, to the sacrament of penance (which has really been neglected for decades), and to adhere more closely to Benedict’s words (again, from The UK Times On-Line):

“Those who trust in themselves and in their own merits are, as it were, blinded by their own ‘I’, and their hearts harden in sin. Those who recognise themselves as weak and sinful entrust themselves to God, and from Him obtain grace and forgiveness.” The Pope also complained that an increasing number of people in the secularised West were “making do without God”.

In other words, the new list is an attempt to make more directly personal the knowledge of sin, and to make everyone understand that it’s not “how you feel about it”, that determines if you’ve sinned or not. You conscience is your guide, but your feelings (or lack thereof) have nothing to do with it, and the only question you should be asking is “Am I doing God’s will?” At least, that’s what I think is going on here. The list seems designed to make you think “Oh, yeah. I can confess to polluting.” The old stuff, you know, being envious, prideful, lazy, etc. was just too daunting and hard to confess to. – That seems to be the message.

My take; it’s not God’s will that you pollute, and it’s never been good policy to pursue obscene amounts of wealth (but don’t think that you’re let off the hook because you’re not a captain of industry or because you don’t work in a genetic laboratory. That was always the case, and it’s no different now). The seven deadly sins are still deadly. The Vatican’s attempt to make confession more relevant, if that’s what this is, will fail badly in the case of the American laity, because it appears to merely make Political CorrectnessTM a virtue. It has the unfortunate effect of trivializing sin and the sacrament of confession.

As for Monsignor Girotti and the British press, I’m reminded of Amy Welborn’s Rule #27.

In case you forgot, here it is: If the news story is from the British press and involves the Pope-.

DON’T BELIEVE IT.

Ed Morrissey has a very good discussion at Hot Air.

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3 Comments on “The New Seven Deadly Sins”


  1. […] Benedict VXI to update the list of deadly sins. And this is at the crux of this whole new update, Joe Buckley drives home a sharp point; The seven deadly sins are still deadly. The Vatican’s attempt to make […]


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