Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What did the Archbishop Really Say?

Fr Z has posted the interview with Archbishop Girotti and it just serves to confirm that he did not - officially or unoffically - come up with a list of the 'New Seven Deadly Sins'. Indeed, most of the interview has nothing to do with these 'new sins'. It's primarily about the work of the Apostolic Penitentary (where the Archbishop is second-in-command), with some answers concerning abortion and indulgences as well.
Anyway, I'll translate the mis-reported question and answer:
According to you, what are the new sins?
There are various areas within which we recognise sinful attitudes concerning individual and social rights. Above all, in the area of bioethics, we must denounce certain violations of the fundamental rights of human nature, by means of experiments and genetic manipulations, the results of which are difficult to predict and regulate. Another area, properly social, is the area of drugs by means of which the psyche is weakened and the intelligence is clouded, leaving many young people outside of the ecclesial circuit. Again, there is the area of social and economic disequilibriums in which the poorest become ever more poor and the rich become ever richer, aggravating an indefensible social injustice; the area of ecology which is of ever more relevant interest today.
It seems to me that all the Archbishop was doing was pointing to the reality and existence of sin in various areas in which many people would not immediately use the word sin.
There is a tendency on the one hand to reduce morality and the language of sin to sexual matters... frequently accompanied with the attitude that the Church (and by extension God) has no business saying anything about what might or might not be sinful in that area. On the other hand, there are other commentators who do have a broader understanding of sin, but seem to think that it's confined to purely personal and individualistic matters - they raise the objection that the Church has no business pronouncing on the existence of sin in economic and environmental matters. That's just as illogical and unCatholic as those who would argue that the Church has 'no business in people's bedrooms'.

That's not to say that there aren't legitimate areas of debate... Radical environmentalism must not be allowed to usurp a Catholic theology of man as the steward of God's creation and a due concern for justice and equity in social and economic matters cannot be understood as simply meaning socialism. On the other hand, it can be very easy to persuade ourselves that the Church has not the authority to 'meddle' in areas which might cause us to re-evaluate our lifestyles in concrete ways.

Anyway, it's pretty clear that the Archbishop did not come up with a list of new sins, he didn't propose rewriting the list of the 'Seven Deadly Sins' and he certainly didn't suggest that we risk eternal damnation if we don't recycle our plastic bags. Sheesh!


TheCrankyProfessor said...

Damn! That's one I can stay away from, too - the unrecycled plastic bag.

Andie said...

That whole thing was silly. The secular media usually is.

Thank you for the birthday wishes!

Enbrethiliel said...



It's a good thing I stopped by today, Father! Just this morning a colleague who was making small talk told me that the Church was "changing the Seven Deadly Sins." Well, I knew it couldn't possibly be true, but now that I know more of how people came to think so, I believe that media reporting on religious issues has hit an all-time low!