New ‘Sins’

An article by the Associated Press alerted me to comments by Bishop Gianfranco Girotti regarding “new sins.” Yet I found an article by Catholic News Service to provide a better overview:

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.

One thought on “New ‘Sins’”

  1. has the following comments as well:

    …Catholic researchers funded by the Vatican have long worried that there weren’t enough ways to sin in the world. “For long we’ve thought of sin as a non-renewable resource. There are only Ten Commandments, then the mortal, and venial sins,” said noted sinologist Father Carlos Verguenza. “Since most people behave most of the time, we realized it was time that we create new transgressions. We had to remind our flock that feeling guilty feels good.”

    New Types of Sins

    In addition to venial and mortal sins, the Vatican has announced a new category, “Activities that aren’t necessarily sins but I’d like to send you to Hell for if you don’t stop right now”, which include:

    * texting while your parents are talking

    * not using your turn signal

    * leaning so far back in your seat on the plane that I can’t use my laptop.

    Other, lesser transgressions have been ruled as non-sins, such as the ever-popular “picking your nose in public”, and “I had a rapid, uncomfortable fantasy about my coworker when she bent over and I noticed she was wearing a thong.”

    Certain vague categories, such as “social injustice”, might also punch your ticket to the Hot Seat. An example of social injustice include cutting line at Starbucks, or why your friends all seem to meet celebrities but you never do.

    Criminals the world over waited with baited breath at the sin announcement, hoping that some of the more traditional bread-and-butter sins would be taken off the list, but they have been disappointed, as stealing, murdering, and coveting still rank high on the list.

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