Confession

From the department of weird: “Fewer confessions and new sins“, from BBC News. Apparently the Catholic Church has made up some new sins.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into Hell”. The new mortal sins were listed by Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti at the end of a week-long training seminar in Rome for priests.”

So here they are:

“Environmental pollution
Genetic manipulation
Accumulating excessive wealth
Inflicting poverty
Drug trafficking and consumption
Morally debatable experiments
Violation of fundamental rights of human nature”

I’m trying not to blaspheme here, but what a minefield. Let’s try to ignore from the start the problem that all the things that they’re trying to avoid here are covered by the good ol’ seven deadlies. Right off the bat, “morally debatable experiments” is semantically identical to “experiments”, so science is a sin. At least “genetic manipulation” fits with the ethos of the Church. I have no idea how one “inflicts poverty”. Define “drug”. Define “rights”. Define “excessive”. Ugh.

Anyway, the economics-related point here is that this made me think of the “value of income” stuff from yesterday. Is it OK to “accumulate excess wealth” if you use it to alleviate poverty, or are we to be banned from accumulating wealth altogether? Is the Church guilty of ignoring the righteous consequences of an expansion in the amount of stuff to go around? If we can’t do productive stuff, will that “inflict poverty”? I feel like this in an implicit damnation of capitalism, but the moral judgment of capitalism – just like the moral judgment of socialism, anarchism or indeed anything – is not that easy.

I actually think it makes it worse that this comes from an obviously traditional institution. It’s great that there are forces out there trying to promote social awareness and conscience, but that list is ridiculous. Give me pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth, and stop trying to be trendy.

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