Real Sins


In the sixth century, Pope Gregory handed down a list of “seven cardinal vices.” Now the Vatican has issued an additional seven “social sins.” You offend God not only by stealing, taking the Lord’s name in vain or coveting your neighbor’s wife, but also by wrecking the environment, carrying out morally debatable experiments that manipulate DNA or harm embryos,” said [Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, who is responsible for the body that oversees confessions (thank you, BB)

One of the most challenging parts of going to confession to Fr John Gribben, diminutive yet powerful monk of the Community of the Resurrection was his habit of ‘de-classifying’ your confession as not genuinely sinful, ‘Oh to be sure, that’s just like taping a song off the radio…‘ So that when he actually agreed with you that what you had brought to him was genuinely a sin you knew your were in mortal danger! It did not trivialise sin, but recognised it as something significant in the way between yourself and God, something that you had done and which needed to be dealt with in order to make right this relationship: a much more intimate understanding of sin that the classical judgement, Romans 3:23, righteousness, disapproval that most people seem to think of as God rather than the agent of complete love.

The seven social sins [according to the Vatican are:

1. “Bioethical” violations such as birth control

2. “Morally dubious” experiments such as stem cell research

3. Drug abuse

4. Polluting the environment

5. Contributing to widening divide between rich and poor

6. Excessive wealth

7. Creating poverty

The original deadly sins:

1. Pride

2. Envy

3. Gluttony

4. Lust

5. Anger

6. Greed

7. Sloth

These are not therefore ‘new’ sins, but recognising when sinfulness has major as well and minor, internal consequences. In Pope Gregory’s list, most of the sins were highly personal, and the main victim was yourself (remember that brilliant 1995 film with Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey: Se7en) but most sin, let’s face it, has an impact on others, and the new list shows that damage to others, to the environment, to society and to our cohesion  as fellow members of the body of Christ are also contrary to God’s Law.

However, what about sins which are related to the damage to others, to the environment, to society and to our cohesion  as fellow members of the body of Christ such as:

  • Homophobia
  • Racism
  • Misogyny
  • Religious Hatred
  • Sexual Exploitation

… and my final two:

  • Decaffinated Coffee
  • Cafe Church

[Note: for a change, I’d quite like my first comments to be taken seriously, and my last two with a smile; although it is true, I do consider de-caff an abomination before the Lord, almost up there with Brussels Sprouts and I suppose Cafe Church as a concept [the un-thinking church’s fresh expression also deserves to be in a special circle of Hell of its own