Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Twisting words to suit the agenda

~Why are we not surprised? The media jumped all over the supposed "new list of seven deadly sins issued by the Vatican". First, know that the media, which are too lazy to make proper distinctions, automatically slap the "Vatican" label on pronouncements by prelates with a connection to the Curia. Second, by virtue of the label, that makes the pronouncement magisterial. Third, the media consistently react by knee-jerk reaction....always. The pressure to create the greatest sensation concerning the Church is always present. So editors fail to be the safeguard to temper these reports. From CWN by Phil Lawler
Archbishop Girotti, the regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, spoke to the Vatican newspaper about "new forms of social sin" in our era. He mentioned such transgressions as destructive research on human embryos, degradation of the environment, and drug trafficking. Within hours, dozens of media sources were suggesting that the Vatican had radically revised the Ten Commandments, issuing a list of "new sins."

As usual, a British newspaper leapt to the forefront with the most sensational and misleading coverage. The Daily Telegraph made the preposterous claim that Archbishop Girotti's list replaced the traditional Catholic understanding of the seven deadly sins:

It replaces the list originally drawn up by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century, which included envy, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath and pride.
Could we have a reality check, please?

When a second-tier Vatican official gives a newspaper interview, he is not proclaiming new Church doctrines. Archbishop Girotti was obviously trying to offer a new, provocative perspective on some enduring truths. The effort backfired-- but in a very revealing way.

An ordinary reader, basing his opinion only on the inane Telegraph coverage, might conclude that a "sin," in the Catholic understanding, is nothing more than a violation of rules set down by a group of men in Rome. If these rules are entirely arbitrary, then Vatican officials can change them at will; some sins will cease to exist and other "new sins" will replace them. But that notion of sin is ludicrous.

Sin is an objective wrong: a violation of God's law. What is sinful today will be sinful tomorrow, and a deadly sin will remain deadly, whether or not Telegraph editors recognize the moral danger. The traditional list of deadly sins remains intact; nothing has replaced it. Greed, gluttony, and lust are as wrong today as they were a day or a year or a century ago.

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