Fewer confessions and new sins
By David Willey - BBC News, Rome - Monday, 10 March 2008
The Vatican has brought up to date the traditional seven deadly sins by adding seven
modern mortal sins it claims are becoming prevalent in what it calls an era of
Those newly risking eternal punishment include drug pushers, the obscenely wealthy, and
scientists who manipulate human genes. So "thou shalt not carry out morally dubious scientific
experiments" or "thou shalt not pollute the earth" might one day be added to the Ten
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, aimed at encouraging a revival of the practice of confession -
or the Sacrament of Penance in Church jargon. According to a survey carried out here 10 years
ago by the Catholic University, 60% of Italians have stopped going to confession altogether. The
situation has certainly not improved during the past decade. Catholics are supposed to confess
their sins to a priest at least once a year. The priest absolves them in God's name.
Talking to course members at the end of the seminar organised by the Apostolic Penitentiary, the
Vatican department in charge of fixing the punishments and indulgences handed down to sinners,
Pope Benedict added his own personal voice of disquiet. "We are losing the notion of sin," he said.
"If people do not confess regularly, they risk slowing their spiritual rhythm," he added. The Pope
confesses his sins regularly once a week.
Greatest sins of our times
In an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Archbishop Girotti said he
thought the most dangerous areas for committing new types of sins lay in the fields of bio-ethics
He also named abortion and paedophilia as two of the greatest sins of our times. The archbishop
brushed off cases of sexual violence against minors committed by priests as
"exaggerations by the mass media aimed at discrediting the Church".