Vatican's 'new' sins list aims to encourage confession

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2008 05:18 PM | Updated as of Mar 19 2008 01:18 AM

The new list of mortal sins suggested by a high-ranking Vatican official was meant to scare Catholics and make them go to confession during the Holy Week, a Filipino theologian said.

"The bottom line here is, the Church is just doing a media strategy to encourage people to go to confession, and what better way than by calling people's attention to the fact that there are new sins," Dr. Esteban Latorre, a theologian of the Theology University of Navarre in Spain, recently told ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC).

The seven new mortal sins are: environmental pollution, genetic manipulation, accumulating excessive wealth, inflicting poverty, drug trafficking and consumption, morally debatable experiments, and violation of fundamental rights of human nature.

Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride are the seven old mortal sins.

Once Catholics hear about these new sins, Latorre said they would expectedly start thinking whether they committed a sin. And if they did, they may go to confession.

"Some people would say, 'Am I guilty of some of those sins?' They'd probably start consulting their conscience, then consult their parish priests and go to confession, which is a good thing to do considering it's Holy Week," Latorre said.

Going to confession during Easter time is required by [Catholic] Church Law, the priest added.

Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti proposed the new mortal sins in an interview with the Vatican's daily newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published March 9.

Latorre said Girotti, a high-ranking official of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican's office that handles confessions and absolutions, could have been told by the Pope Benedict himself to come up with the list.

NOT NEW SINS

Latorre said the seven "new mortal sins" do not replace the old ones.

"The Vatican did not promulgate or announce new sins. You don’t do that. The ten commandments on the natural law came before Moses," he said.

"When it comes to moral theology or the natural law, you cannot really add or subtract anything new," Latorre stressed.

He said the seven new sins can be traced to the "thou shall not" sins in the 10 Commandments" and to the seven old mortal sins.

"Most of the sins of the environment are motivated by greed, by these big corporations who destroy the environment for profit," Latorre said.

Big and greedy corporations also foster the "disparity of the rich and the poor," he said.

BACK TO CONFESSION CAMPAIGN

Latorre said The Vatican is launching a modern day campaign to lure Catholics back into confession because many people have been neglecting the basics of morality.

In addition, he lamented that some sins are no longer considered mortal sins.

"People don’t consider sexual sins as mortal sins anymore," he said.

He said Catholics have also forgotten the difference between mortal sins and venial, or lesser, sins.

The priest also expressed concern of the "new fad" of call centers or contact centers, which he said is actually a "sweat shop....taking advantage of the disparity of the rich and the poor."

FILIPINOS WANT TO CONFESS

Latorre, meanwhile, said confession statistics in the Philippines have always been high because Filipinos are naturally religious.

However, he said many Filipinos are not given enough opportunity to go to confession because of the lack of priests in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, he said "many people would like to go to confession" but priests are not readily available because they are either too busy with other church work or they get involved in politics.

Given the opportunity, Latorre said 80 percent of Filipinos want to confess.

"Here, confession is not the problem. If you allow priests to go to confession, maybe 80 percent of Filipinos would like to go to confession," he said.