March 12, 2008

The 7 PC Sins

Under the guidance of Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti, the Vatican has released a new list of the ?7 Social Sins,? all of which appear to be some color between pink and green.

They include:

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

Numbers 1-3 are not controversial; the rest are. Leaving aside the ?Sin of Carbon Emission? (#4), numbers 5-7 seem to be of one kind, all aimed at enforcing a sense of ?social justice.?

For the life of me, I don?t know how exactly one ?creates poverty??although welfare programs seem to be succeeding at the task. Ditto for ?Contributing to widening divide between rich and poor.? 

Do we really need ?Excessive wealth?? Wasn?t the mortal sin of ?gluttony? working just fine? While ?excessive wealth? is hard to measure, we generally know gluttony when we see it. Consuming four Pizzas in one sitting can usually qualify one for this distinction. 

?Gluttony? also references a repulsive life-style as opposed to, say, some Stanford wiz kids who accumulate an ?excessive? amount of lucre because Google buys up their latest software idea. I don?t think such people have sinned, and, unlike the fat slob gorging himself on calzones, they?ve greatly benefited society in the process of getting filthy rich. 

The Telegraph gets it spot on.

?Some priests give the impression of having missed their vocation as therapists, social workers or eco-warriors. One such is Mgr Gianfranco Girotti, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, who has drawn up a new version of the Seven Deadly Sins: accumulating excessive wealth, taking drugs, polluting the environment. His list reads like a sixth-form essay.

The original Seven Deadly Sins have haunted our conscience for centuries. They gave us Dante’s Inferno and Bosch’s hellish visions. More recently, they formed the basis of an eerie film starring Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey.

Who would want to do the same with the Vatican’s milk-and-water peccadilloes? Allow us to suggest our own list of Seven Vices Best Avoided in Ecclesiastical Pronouncements: prissiness, moralising, over-familiarity, self-righteousness, babyishness, cant and, above all, banality.?

Archbishop Girotti made a rather lame attempt to bring Catholicism up to date, make it hip. I expect those serious about their theology to ignore the ?social sins? and heed those original deadly seven.

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