February 2008: Give up your new sins

Many people will remember the film production called “Give Up Yer Aul Sins” made back at the beginning of this century. The title of the film was based on a line used in the previous century by a schoolgirl recounting the story of John the Baptist using her own comical Dublinese phrases.

Well, it will be a case of “give up your new sins” from now on, according to the Catholic Church.

The Vatican has announced that it is bringing the traditional seven deadly sins up to date by adding seven modern mortal sins (or “mortallers” to use another bit of Dublinese). According to the powers-that-be below the power-that-is these new soul-destroying sins are becoming prevalent in what the Vatican calls an era of the “unstoppable process of globalisation”.

Quite why they want to inflict more guilt on the poor long-suffering Catholic just because he is taking part in some “unstoppable” phenomenon is beyond me. .After all, if the event is unstoppable, the man has no choice but to commit sin by participating in it.

At confession, the poor lad who works at the oil refinery, and also chops down the rain-forest in his spare time, will go to confession and be asked to repent and not to sin again.

“I can’t promise that, father.”

“Why not, my son?”

“Because it’ll happen again. It’s unstoppable. They told me that so I won’t be able to stop myself from doing it again.”

“Well then, my son, just go out and do your best and I’ll see you in a month’s time….or next week if things get really on top on you. Three Hail Marys and an Our Father.”

This guy, though, should consider himself lucky. In the old days if he confessed to one of the original “Seven Deadliers” (more Dublinese), he would know all about it. For being too greedy he would be forced to eat rats, toads and snakes. If he was lazy as well, a visit to the snake pit was in order, where he could combine both punishments.

Various other sanctions applied to the sins of pride, lust, anger and the like, but it would not be prudent to print them in a family newspaper. Let’s just say that confession is a far easier option nowadays, even if there are even more mortal sins nowadays to contend with.

So who are these new sinners on the block that the Vatican has blacklisted? Well, we have the drug pushers as well as those who use drugs. And we are told that “the excessive accumulation of wealth by a few” being a sin. Basically, doing the Lotto could be a massive sin for you, so be careful out there.

When you think about “excessive accumulation of wealth by a few”, the church itself could be a bit dodgy on that one. I’d imagine, though, that the aisles of the cathedrals will not be overflowing with red-hatted and red-faced bishops lining up to confess their “obscene wealth”.


(By the way, how much money do you have to have to be “obscenely wealthy”?  Does it depend on whether you live in the Caribbean with a couple of million pounds as compared to living in Ethiopia with the same amount of money? Which is more obscene? )

Oh, and then we have the scientists, the traditional whipping boys of the church, if you’ll forgive the expression., Surely (and literally) to God the church has, by now, learnt its lesson from the fall-out of its monkeying around with Charles Darwin and his theories.

Despite this history, the Vatican has decided to brand as sinners those scientists who manipulate human genes. They also condemn “morally debatable experimentation”. Obviously, they have decided not to bother with the debate on that one.

But I, for one, don’t blame them for frowning on such things as genetic manipulation. I had quite enough of Six Million Dollar Man in my youth. Not to mention Bionic Woman. At least three arms and one leg were broken in my school by kids who thought they were genetically super-powered and jumped off the bicycle shed in a fit of TV-induced madness.

Causing poverty is another no-no in the modern Catholic world. This rule is broken every week by my partner when she hits the shops so I’m also in favour of it being a confession-puller. It won’t stop her, of course, but knowing she feels the guilt is part consolation for the empty wallet.

Of course, environmental pollution is high on the new sin-list. That one’s a real crowd-puller these days. Mind you, if we take this to extremes you could mortally be committing a “mortaller” every time you put a sod of turf on the fire or throw a plastic bag into the wrong waste bin.

So “Thou shalt not carry out morally dubious scientific experiments” or “Thou shalt not pollute the earth” could become the eleventh and twelfth commandments some day soon.  And you thought you had in hard in National School learning the Ten Commandments off by heart for your First Communion?






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