In today’s globalized culture, the social effects of sin are greater than ever before and deserve the church’s urgent attention, a Vatican official said. …
Bishop Girotti is an official of the Apostolic Penitentiary, an office that deals with questions relating to penance and indulgences. He made the comments in an interview March 8 with the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. …
Among the “new sins” that have emerged in recent times, he pointed to genetic experiments and manipulation that violate fundamental human rights and produce effects difficult to foresee and control.
He said other areas where sin has a social impact include drug abuse, which affects many young people; economic injustice, which has left the poor even poorer and the rich richer; and environmental irresponsibility.
In typical Catholic fashion, Girotti offers a grab-bag of real misdeeds and make-believe “sins.”
It’s not very big news that abusing drugs is bad for you; nor is this a new problem.
But, within the broader context of individual rights, genetic science does not “violate fundamental human rights;” it instead promises to alleviate human suffering. The violation of rights is to squash scientific investigation based on religious dogma.
Economic injustice is not properly defined by differences in wealth; on the contrary, in a free society differences of wealth reflect the just distribution of wealth based on individual production and voluntary association. Actual economic injustice arises when governments and criminals violate people’s rights, including their rights to control their own income and property. Such violations of rights often impoverish some people and unjustly enrich others. But the Catholic Church is more concerned with encouraging political force in the economy, which violates economic justice.
Finally, “environmental irresponsibility,” properly understood, means polluting somebody’s particular property, a problem properly handled through the legal system. Responsibility does not mean buying into environmentalist hysteria, feeling guilty about producing and consuming life-enhancing goods and services, or pushing politicians to violate people’s rights for environmentalist causes. It makes sense, though, for environmentalists and Christians to find common cause, for both movements thrive on people’s guilt.