Vatican revises Seven
New sins target vices that have an effect
on society and the environment
Edmonton Journal: Mar 10, 2008: Daily Telegraph -Rome
Failing to recycle plastic bags could see you spend eternity in hell,
the Vatican has said, after drawing up a list of seven new deadly sins
for our times.
The list was announced by Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, a close ally of
the Pope and the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, one of the Roman
Curia’s main court.
He told the vatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, that the
“sins of yesteryear,” which include sloth, envy, gluttony, greed, lust,
wrath and pride have a “rather individualistic dimension.”
The new seven deadly sins are designed to make worshippers realize that
their vices have an effect on others as well. “The sins of today have a
social resonance as well as an individual one, because of the great
phenomenon of globalization,” said Mgr Girotti.
“In effect, it is more important than ever to pay attention to your
sins, because the consequences are greater and more destructive.”
According to Catholic doctrine, mortal sins are a “grave violation of
God’s law” and bring about “eternal death” if unrepented by the act of
They are far more serious than venial sins, which impede a soul’s
progress in the exercise of virtue and moral good.
He said that genetic modification, carrying out experiments on humans,
polluting the environment, causing social injustice, causing poverty,
becoming obscenely wealthy and taking drugs are all mortal sins.
“Many of these sins concern individual and social rights,” he said. “We
cannot but denounce any violation of basic human biology, the
consequences of which are difficult to foresee and keep under control,”
He added that drugs “weaken the soul and darken one’s intelligence” and
that they “leave many youths out of the reach of the church.”
Finally, he said that it was a deadly sin to allow “the poor to become
ever poorer and the rich to become ever richer.”
However, the Apostolic Penitentiary is responsible for absolving
worshippers of their sins, and Mgr Girotti said that the act of
confession could help all sinners to reform.
The original seven deadly sins were drawn up by Pope Gregory the Great
in the 6th century.
He also ranked the sins in order of their seriousness, but this has
since been rejected by theologians including St. Thomas Aquinas.
Pope Gregory originally included sadness as a deadly sin, but this was
substituted by the Church for sloth in the 17th century.
Each of the original seven deadly sins has an opposite holy virtue,
which are chastity, abstinence, temperance, diligence, patience,
kindness and humility.
DEADLY SINS ARE DESCRIBED IN DETAIL BELOW(as posted on
Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia):
The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or
cardinal sins, are a classification of
vices that were originally used in early
teachings to educate and instruct followers concerning (immoral)
fallen man's tendency to
Roman Catholic Church divided
sin into two
principal categories: "venial",
which are relatively minor, and could be forgiven through any
of the Church, and the more severe "capital" or
Mortal sins destroyed the life of grace, and created the threat of eternal
unless either absolved through the sacrament of
or forgiven through perfect
on the part of the penitent. Beginning in the early 14th century, the popularity
of the seven deadly sins as a theme among European artists of the time
eventually helped to ingrain them in many areas of Christian culture and
Christian consciousness in general throughout the world. One means of such
ingraining was the creation of the
SALIGIA based on the first letters in Latin of the seven deadly sins: Superbia,
Avaritia, Luxuria, Invidia, Gula, Ira, Acedia.
Listed in the same order used by both
Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century AD, and later by
Dante Alighieri in his epic poem
The Divine Comedy, the seven deadly sins are as follows:
Luxuria (extravagance, later
and Superbia (pride).
Each of the seven deadly sins has an opposite among the corresponding
holy virtues (sometimes also referred to as the contrary virtues). In
parallel order to the sins they oppose, the seven holy virtues are
The identification and definition of the seven deadly sins over their history
has been a fluid process and the idea of what each of the seven actually
encompasses has evolved over time. This process has been aided by the fact that
they are not referred to in either a cohesive or codified manner in the Bible
itself, and as a result other literary and ecclesiastical works referring to the
seven deadly sins were instead consulted as sources from which definitions might
be drawn. Part II of Dante's
Purgatorio, has almost certainly been the best known source since the
Lust (or lechery) is usually thought of as involving obsessive
or excessive thoughts or desires of a
sexual nature. Unfulfilled lusts sometimes lead to sexual or sociological
compulsions and/or transgressions including (but obviously not limited to)
Dante's criterion was "excessive love of others," which therefore rendered
love and devotion to God as secondary. In
Purgatorio, the penitent walks within flames to purge himself of
lustful/sexual thoughts and feelings.
Derived from the
Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow, gluttony is
the over-indulgence and
over-consumption of anything to the point of waste. In the
religions, it is considered a sin because of the excessive desire for food, or
its withholding from the needy.
Depending on the culture, it can be seen as either a vice or a sign of
status. Where food is relatively scarce, being able to eat well might be
something to take pride in (although this can also result in a moral backlash
when confronted with the reality of those less fortunate). Where food is
routinely plentiful, it may be considered a sign of self control to resist the
temptation to over-indulge.
Medieval Church leaders (e.g.,
Thomas Aquinas) took a more expansive view of gluttony (Okholm 2000),
arguing that it could also include an obsessive anticipation of meals, and the
constant eating of delicacies and excessively costly foods.
He went so far as to prepare a list of six ways to commit gluttony, including:
- Praepropere - eating too soon
- Laute - eating too expensively
- Nimis - eating too much
- Ardenter - eating too eagerly
- Studiose - eating too daintily
- Forente - eating too fervently
Greed (or avarice, covetousness) is, like lust and
gluttony, a sin of excess. However, greed (as seen by the Church) is applied to
the acquisition of
wealth in particular. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that greed was "a sin against
God, just as all mortal sins, in as much as man condemns things eternal for the
sake of temporal things." In Dante's Purgatory, the penitents were bound and
laid face down on the ground for having concentrated too much on earthly
thoughts. "Avarice" is more of a blanket term that can describe many other
examples of greedy behavior. These include disloyalty, deliberate
especially for personal gain, for example through
hoarding of materials or objects,
especially by means of
are all actions that may be inspired by greed.
Such misdeeds can include
one profits from soliciting goods within the actual confines of a church.
Sloth (Latin, acedia)
More than other sins, the definition of sloth has changed considerably
since its original inclusion among the seven deadly sins. In fact it was first
called the sin of sadness. It had been in the early years of Christianity
characterized by what modern writers would now describe as melancholy: apathy,
depression, and joylessness — the last being viewed as being a refusal to enjoy
the goodness of God and the world He created. Originally, its place was
fulfilled by two other aspects, Acedia and Sadness. The former described a
spiritual apathy that affected the faithful by discouraging them from their
religious work. Sadness (tristitia in Latin) described a feeling of
dissatisfaction or discontent, which caused unhappiness with one's current
situation. When St. Thomas Aquinas selected Acedia for his list, he described it
as an "uneasiness of the mind," being a progenitor for lesser sins such as
restlessness and instability. Dante refined this definition further, describing
Sloth as being the "failure to love God with all one's heart, all one's mind and
all one's soul." He also described it as the middle sin, and as such was the
only sin characterised by an absence or insufficiency of love. In his
Purgatorio, the slothful penitents were made to run continuously at top speed.
The modern view of the vice, as highlighted by its contrary virtue
zeal/diligence, is that it represents the failure to utilize one's talents and
gifts. For example, a student who does not work beyond what is required (and
thus fails to achieve his or her full potential) could be labeled 'slothful'.
Current interpretations are therefore much less stringent and comprehensive
than they were in medieval times, and portray Sloth as being more simply a sin
of laziness or indifference, of an unwillingness to act, an unwillingness to
care (rather than a failure to love God and His works). For this reason Sloth is
now often seen as being considerably less serious than the other sins, more a
sin of omission than of commission.
Wrath (Latin, ira)
Wrath (or anger) may be described as inordinate and
uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. These feelings can manifest as
of the truth,
both to others and in the form of
impatience with the procedure of law, and the desire to seek revenge outside
of the workings of the justice system (such as engaging in
and generally wishing to do evil or harm to others. The transgressions borne of
vengeance are among the most serious, including
in extreme cases,
Crimes against humanity.) Wrath is the only sin not necessarily associated
with selfishness or self interest (although one can of course be wrathful for
selfish reasons, such as jealousy). Dante described vengeance as "love of
revenge and spite".
Envy (Latin, invidia)
Like greed, envy is characterized by an insatiable desire; they
differ, however, for two main reasons. First, greed is largely associated with
material goods, whereas envy may apply more generally. Second, those who commit
the sin of envy desire something that someone else has which they perceive
themselves as lacking. Dante defined this as "love of one's own good perverted
to a desire to deprive other men of theirs." Dante's concept of envy is roughly
equivalent to the meaning of the German word "schadenfreude," or to delight in
the misfortune of others. In Dante's Purgatory, the punishment for the envious
is to have their eyes sewn shut with wire, because they have gained sinful
pleasure from seeing others brought low. Thomas Aquinas described Envy as
"sorrow for another's good"
with her mirror. Painting by
In almost every list pride ( or hubris or vanity) is
considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and indeed
the ultimate source from which the others arise. It is identified as a desire to
be more important or attractive than others, failing to give compliments to
others though they may be deserving of them , and excessive love of self (especially holding
self out of proper position toward God). Dante's definition was "love of self
perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor." In Jacob Bidermann's
Pride is the deadliest of all the sins and leads directly to the damnation of
the famed Doctor of Paris,
In perhaps the most famous example, the story of
Pride was what caused his Fall from Heaven, and his resultant transformation
Narcissism are prime examples of this Sin. In the
Divine Comedy, the penitent were forced to walk with stone slabs bearing
down on their backs in order to induce feelings of humility.
Proverbs 6:16 – 19
In Proverbs 6:16 – 19, it is stated that "(16) These six things doth the Lord
hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:" (quotes from "King James Version
(KJV)" translation of the Bible). These are:
- (17) A proud look,
- a lying tongue,
- and hands that shed innocent blood,
- (18) A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,
- feet that be swift in running to mischief,
- (19) A false witness that speaketh lies,
- and he that soweth discord among brethren.
While there are seven of them, these sins are considerably different in
outward appearance from the seven deadly sins list that arose later. The only
sin which is clearly on both lists is Pride. "Hands that kill innocent people"
could be taken to refer to Wrath. However, it is possible to imagine a case
where cold blooded murder of an innocent would be one of the "hated things"
without necessarily being an example of Wrath. Practices such as abortion,
genocide, and euthanasia can be arguably covered under this umbrella of "hands
that shed innocent blood."
The remaining five of the "deadly sins" do not have even this loose
correspondence to the "hated things", even if it is easy to imagine how they
might lead someone to acting in one of the ways described in Proverbs. As
previously stated, there is no where in the Bible where the traditional "seven
deadly sins" are located or listed, although they are all condemned in various
parts, along with several others. These "deadly sins" are not necessarily worse
than any others that are listed. The Bible makes it clear throughout its New
Testament that it only takes one sin, which is an act of disobeying God's law,
to separate man from a perfect God, placing him in need of redemption and
Other biblical references
The list in Proverbs is not the only list of sins in the Bible. It does list
them as "seven", but it is far from being an exhaustive listing of sins. Another
list of sins is given in the book of (New Testament) Galatians 5:19-21. That
list reads: (19) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these;
Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, (20) Idolatry, witchcraft,
hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, (21) Envyings,
murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before,
as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not
inherit the kingdom of God.(KJV)
Wrath is mentioned specifically, but linked with Hate, includes the
notions of hostility both acted upon and purely internalized. Envy/Jealousy
is part of the list in Galatians. Greed is part of "selfish ambitions"
from Galatians, but is also mirrored in Proverbs' "wicked plans." Gluttony
is evident in "drunkenness and revellings", but also implied as the contrary of
the virtue in Galatians 5:23 - "temperance" (self-control).
Sloth is not listed in Galatians, but it can be found in verses such
as Proverbs 6:6-10, "How long will you sleep, O sluggard?". Laziness is
addressed in many other verses, though not necessarily labeled obviously as sin.
In 1 Corinthians 3:8, a man is to receive "according to his labors". Similarly
in Timothy 5:18, a laborer is worthy of his wages, with the implied converse
being that the sluggard is not entitled to be fed or rewarded. He sins in living
off others' labors.
Pride is mentioned in Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goeth before destruction
and a haughty spirit before a fall."(KJV)
Roman Catholic Church also recognizes
seven holy virtues which correspond to each of the seven deadly sins.
Associations with demons
Peter Binsfeld paired each of the deadly sins with a
tempted people by means of the associated sin. According to Binsfeld's
Classification of Demons, the pairings are as follows:
There are also other demons who invoke sin, for instance
Lilith and her
succubi, invoke lust. The succubi sleep with men in order to impregnate
themselves so that they can spawn demons. The incubi sleep with women to lead
them astray and to impregnate them with demon spawn.
The seven deadly sins have long been a source of inspiration for writers and
morality tales of the
Ages to modern
manga series (FullMetal
Alchemist for example) and video games.
Literary works inspired by the seven deadly sins
John Climacus (7th century) in the
The Ladder of Divine Ascent places victory over the eight thoughts
as individual steps of the thirty-step ladder: wrath (8), vainglory (10,
22), sadness (13), gluttony (14), lust (15), greed (16, 17), acedia (18),
and pride (23).
Dante Alighieri's (1265-1321 A.D.)
Divine Comedy is a three-part work composed of Inferno,
Purgatory, and Paradise. Inferno divides hell into nine
concentric circles, four of which directly correspond to some of the deadly
sins (Circle 2-lust, 3-gluttony, 4-greed, 5-wrath). The remaining circles do
not neatly map onto the seven sins. In Purgatory, the mountain is
scaled in seven levels and follows the sequence of
Thomas Aquinas (starting with pride).
William Langland's (c. 1332-1386) Vision of
Piers Plowman is structured around a series of dreams that are
critical of contemporary errors while encouraging godly living. The sins are
mentioned in this order: proud (Passus V, lines 62-71), lechour (V.71-74),
envye (V.75-132), wrathe (V.133-185), coveitise (V.186-306), glutton
(V.307-385), sleuthe (V.386-453) (using the B-text).
Geoffrey Chaucer's (c. 1340-1400)
Canterbury Tales features the seven deadly sins in
The Parson's Tale: pride (paragraphs 24-29), envy (30-31), wrath
(32-54), sloth (55-63), greed(64-70), gluttony (71-74), lust (75-84).
Christopher Marlowe's (1564-1593)
The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus shows
Mephistophilis coming from hell to show Dr. Fastus "some pastime" (Act
II, Scene 2). The sins present themselves in order: pride, greed, envy,
wrath, gluttony, sloth, lust.
Edmund Spenser's (1552-1599),
The Faerie Queene addresses the seven deadly sins in Book I (The
Legend of the Knight of the Red Cross, Holiness): vanity/pride (Canto IV,
stanzas 4-17), idleness/sloth (IV.18-20), gluttony (IV.21-23), lechery/lust
(IV.24-26), avarice/greed (IV.27-29), envy (IV.30-32), wrath (IV.33-35).
The Keys to the Kingdom is a seven book children's series in which the
main nemesis of each book is afflicted by one of the seven deadly sins.
Death Comes for the Archbishop addresses the sins and their paired
virtues in Archbishop Latour's missionary journeys in the Southwestern
Art and music
Film, television, comic books and video games
- The original
Bedazzled (1967) includes all seven sins, most notably
Raquel Welch as Lust and
Barry Humphries as Envy. Peter Cook's character, The Devil, is also
named Lucifer, representing Pride.
- The film
Se7en (1995), directed by
David Fincher and starring
Morgan Freeman. A
serial killer reconstructs each of the deadly sins through his crimes.
- In the
Fullmetal Alchemist, each sin is used as an alias for a member of a
group of powerful false humans called "homunculi".
The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins (1971) is a British film built
around a series of comedy sketches on the seven deadly sins.
Overlord, the seven heroes that the protagonist must defeat are
based on the seven sins:
Sir William (lust),
Kahn (wrath) and the
Seven Great Demon Lords, each of which represent one of the sins,
are a major group of antagonists.
Devil May Cry 3, the seven deadly sins are represented by a group of
common enemies, as well as by seven infernal bells, hidden throughout the
tower of Temen-ni-gru, used by the antagonist to open the gate to the Demon
World. Fallen angels that personify the sins also feature heavily in the
prequel manga, in which they are important in summoning the tower in the
- In the
Philippines TV series
Lastikman each major villain represents one of the deadly sins.
- In the Norwegian TV show De syv dødssyndende (The Seven Deadly
Kristopher Schau attempts to invoke the wrath of God by carrying out
each of the seven deadly sins.When Schau was talking about the show on the
talkshow Senkveld (Late night), he said "If I don't end up in
there is no Hell." The program caused a great deal of public debate
surrounding the issue of censorship.
Casanova the volumes are named for each of the seven sins beginning with
- ^ Okholm, Dennis.
"Rx for Gluttony".
Christianity Today, Vol. 44, No. 10, September 4, 2000, p.62
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