Thou shall not pollute the Earth. Thou shall beware genetic manipulation. Modern times bring with them modern sins. So the Vatican has told the faithful that they should be aware of "new" sins such as causing environmental blight.I have no doubt that the global climate is important for all mankind and I agree with the Church that bioethics is a difficult area for modern Catholics and we should be careful of our progress in that area (maybe for different reasons though).
The guidance came at the weekend when Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti, the Vatican's number two man in the sometimes murky area of sins and penance, spoke of modern evils.
Asked what he believed were today's "new sins," he told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that the greatest danger zone for the modern soul was the largely uncharted world of bioethics.
"(Within bioethics) there are areas where we absolutely must denounce some violations of the fundamental rights of human nature through experiments and genetic manipulation whose outcome is difficult to predict and control," he said.
The Vatican opposes stem cell research that involves destruction of embryos and has warned against the prospect of human cloning.
Girotti, in an interview headlined "New Forms of Social Sin," also listed "ecological" offences as modern evils.
In recent months, Pope Benedict has made several strong appeals for the protection of the environment, saying issues such as climate change had become gravely important for the entire human race.
At the same time, I have long had disagreements with the Church on a lot of fundamental doctrine, ranging from birth control to the role of women in the Church. On birth control, I don't see it as a sin and as my Irish Catholic mother said, if the Pope doesn't want me to use birth control, he can raise all my kids. To this day, I still can't see why a woman can't be a pious as a man or why women can't be priests. My aunt, Agnes, is a nun and a great leader but can never be a priest.
But including on the list of sins ecological transgressions simply offends me as a Catholic, as a human and as an American. Yes, we should not pollute, but I don't see myself standing before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates answering for my sins and having the fact that I didn't recycle for a few years appearing on the list of my (admittedly) long list of sins. I further don't envision myself in Confession telling my priest "Forgive me Father, for I have sinned, I didn't recycle my newspapers last month" and my priest telling me to say 10 Hail Mary's as penance.
It is as if the Vatican has bought in to a secular scare and if they are the source or link to communicating with God, I have to wonder if their guidance is divine or Al Gore (and yes liberals--there is a big difference).