New Catholic Deadly Sins
- Monday, 10 March 2008, 16:06 GMT
Fewer confessions and new sins
By David Willey
BBC News, Rome
The Vatican has brought up to date the traditional seven deadly sins
by adding seven modern mortal sins it claims are becoming prevalent
in what it calls an era of "unstoppable globalisation".
Those newly risking eternal punishment include drug pushers, the
obscenely wealthy, and scientists who manipulate human genes. So
"thou shalt not carry out morally dubious scientific experiments" or
"thou shalt not pollute the earth" might one day be added to the Ten
Accumulating excessive wealth
Drug trafficking and consumption
Morally debatable experiments
Violation of fundamental rights of human nature
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "immediately after
death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend
The new mortal sins were listed by Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti at
the end of a week-long training seminar in Rome for priests, aimed at
encouraging a revival of the practice of confession - or the
Sacrament of Penance in Church jargon.
According to a survey carried out here 10 years ago by the Catholic
University, 60% of Italians have stopped going to confession
altogether. The situation has certainly not improved during the past
Catholics are supposed to confess their sins to a priest at least
once a year. The priest absolves them in God's name.
Talking to course members at the end of the seminar organised by the
Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican department in charge of fixing
the punishments and indulgences handed down to sinners, Pope Benedict
added his own personal voice of disquiet.
The seven deadly sins don't need modernising, secular law will suffice.
Chris Ashworth, Australia
"We are losing the notion of sin," he said. "If people do not confess
regularly, they risk slowing their spiritual rhythm," he added. The
Pope confesses his sins regularly once a week.
Greatest sins of our times
In an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano,
Archbishop Girotti said he thought the most dangerous areas for
committing new types of sins lay in the fields of bio-ethics and
He also named abortion and paedophilia as two of the greatest sins of
our times. The archbishop brushed off cases of sexual violence
against minors committed by priests as "exaggerations by the mass
media aimed at discrediting the Church".
ORIGINAL DEADLY SINS
Father Gerald O'Collins, former professor of moral theology at the
Papal University in Rome, and teacher of many of the Catholic
Church's current top Cardinals and Bishops, welcomed the new
catalogue of modern sins.
"I think the major point is that priests who are hearing confessions
are not sufficiently attuned to some of the real evils in our world,"
he told the BBC News website. "They need to be more aware today of
the social face of sin - the inequalities at the social level. They
think of sin too much on an individual level.
"I think priests who hear confession should have a deeper sense of
the violence and injustice of such problems - and the fact that
people collaborate simply by doing nothing. One of the original
deadly sins is sloth - disengagement and not getting involved,"
Father O'Collins said. The Jesuit professor now teaches at St Mary's
University in Twickenham.
"It was interesting that these remarks came from the head of the
Apostolic Penitentiary," he said. "I can't remember a time when it
was so concerned about issues such as environmental pollution and
social injustice. It's a new way of thinking."