The pope recently declared obscene riches, pedophilia, and causing social injustice as three of the newest deadly sins. This is as incomprehensible as Israel’s chief rabbi declaring pork, lobster, and Wonder Bread the new official dishes of Passover.
The papal announcement seems more like a public “mea culpa” than a red flag for the faithful. The inclusion of pedophilia only reminds us that the sexual abuse of children has become the hallmark of the Church’s historic underbelly of secret sexual perversion. That the abuse of children is abhorrent should be obvious.
Pollution, genetic engineering, abortion, and drug use round out Rome’s latest list of mortal no-no’s, though it is unclear how many Catholic laypeople experiment with cloning in their kitchens. “Drug use” isn’t qualified, leaving the faithful to wonder if smoking a joint is a little sin while shooting up is a big one. What about downing a six-pack?
Pollution is also vaguely defined. Does one have to get to the Exxon Valdez level to fall from grace?
Including abortion seems redundant. In the Church’s view, abortion should already be covered under the prohibition against killing. Does the new mention mean that the abortions performed until recently were venial sins, and that the procedures are now mortal?
And what does the elevation of abortion to the latest list of “seven deadlies” say about the Vatican’s former investment in pharmaceutical companies that produced what Rome now calls abortifacients, or substances that induce abortion? Is Rome guilty (again), and if so, who gives Rome absolution when it needs it?
If the Vatican wants to issue dicta on genetic engineering, social engineering, and protecting the planet, that is its right and its obligation. But it starts to smack of hypocrisy when the same Vatican City gang that lives in opulent splendor — and, in the summer, at a palatial country villa where the pontiff and his entourage are surrounded by servants, extraordinary art treasures, and great food and wine — frown on “obscene riches.”
“Social justice” goes begging at a church that bans women from the ministry and where gay priests handing out hosts refuse communion to their gay lay counterparts.
When the world’s poor are ignored more than embraced, observers cannot help but wonder why the same Vatican that bans the obstruction of social justice doesn’t use its “obscene riches” to bring about this justice.
The original seven cardinal sins — pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth — at least offered equal opportunities to sin, for clergy and the faithful alike. In that sense, they were truly “catholic” with a small “c.”
The latest list, aimed at the worlds of science, technology, wealth, and even government, seem to target ambiguous and powerful elite groups within our society, and within the Church itself — beyond the reach of and indifferent to papal oversight.
Drug use, abortion, and sexual perversion involving children are areas in which the people in the pews may fall away in a very personal way. When that happens, does social justice demand that Rome provide more mercy and aid than condemnation?
What would Jesus say?