Although billed as a conservative, Benedict XVI has proved to be not only an autocrat but a revolutionary. Without convoking a Vatican council, he has taken it upon himself to revise Catholic teaching at will, adding and subtracting as the spirit (hopefully) moves him: first he disposed of limbo, the waystation for innocent sinners (i.e. the unbaptized) without saying whether under the new dispensation they will be admitted into heaven directly or not at all; next he reintroduced the Tridentine mass, which is celebrated in Latin with the priest facing the altar not the communicants; and now he has invented seven new deadly sins, as if there were not already enough ways for the faithful to be shoved into hell.
The seven original deadly sins are: pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth. Since these mortal sins are 1500 years old, I will not raise any objection to them. They are exactly what they should be: a product of the age of feudalism intended to teach humility and resignation to the downtrodden; in short, to keep them in their place. The great, of course, didn't have to worry about committing mortal sins because the Church sold dispensations that allowed them to be as prideful, envious, gluttonous, lusty, angry, greedy and slothful as they could wish without forfeiting the hope of heaven. The notion that the meek would inherit the earth terrified the Church and she did everything in her power to prevent it. She blessed the "divine rule" of kings and threatened dissenters with fire and brimstone and not just in the hereafter. She was then as she is now and as she will always be: the accomplice and enabler of the powerful. Cubans recently had occasion to see what a perfect fit there still exists between a feudal church and a feudal state.
The seven new deadly sins proclaimed by Benefict XVI constitute an attempt to deny the feudal nature of the Church by solemnizing politically correct causes which, the pope hopes, will prove the Church's modernity and relevance. The newly-invented deadly sins are: practicing birth control, biochemical experimentation, drug abuse, pollution of the environment, widening divisions between rich and poor, excessive wealth and creating poverty.
You will note immediately one important difference between the old deadly sins and the new deadly sins. It used to be that you could only sin against God, yourself, or your fellow man. It is now also possible to sin against inanimate (or soul-less) objects such as trees, oceans and the atmosphere. No longer will the Church teach that God gave man dominion over the earth to satisfy his needs. Now he is only Mother Nature's caretaker and must answer in the afterlife for having offended our brother the tree and our sister the rainbow. Now, there is already a religion which attributes conscious life to objects and natural phenomena; it is tens of thousands of years old, that is, many times older than the Catholic religion. It is known as animism, or the religion of the forest. It is there, apparently, that the Church wishes to return the faithful. In any other age this would be known as heresy. In fact, this particular heresy was fought and extinguished by sword and fire at the birth of the Church. Now, under the rubric of "enviromentalism," it has been enshrined as a sacred precept of the Church. Where will the Church go from here? Will the pope in his next encyclical sanction the worship of the Sun-God to accommodate global warming?
It has now also become a triple-sin to widen divisions between rich and poor, create excessive wealth or excessive poverty. What is "excessive wealth" and what is "excessive poverty?" Marx didn't try to define those terms and neither does the pope. Sensible economists will argue that creating wealth actually bridges the divisions between poor and wealthy in a captalist society. But the Vatican condemned capitalism as "materialistic" in the 19th century and has never softened its opposition to it even as she used it, both licitly and illicitly, to enrich herself in the 20th. Can anything be more hypocritical than for the Church to blame poverty on the wealthy while herself being the richest institution on earth? There is enough excessive wealth in St. Peter's basilica alone to extinguish a large share of the world's excessive poverty. And what could the Church, the world's largest landholder, accomplish in the way of ending poverty if it ceded those lands to the poor for cultivation? Of course, the Church has always been very good at preaching charity to others (especially on its own behalf). But as pertains to herself, she is a Church of words not works.
The pope's inclusion of contraception among the deadly sins is the greatest blow that the Church could deal on behalf of abortion. If you eliminate birth control you increase exponentially the number of unwanted babies and hence of abortions. Just as no sensible human being could deny that abortion is murder, so is it impossible to reasonably claim that babies should be created for the expressed purpose of being aborted. This puts the Vatican in the same league as their arch-enemies, the proponents of stem-cell research. While condemning biochemical experimentation, the Church is facilitating it with its proscription on contraception. Finally, there is drug-abuse, which is now also a mortal sin. Why not alcoholism? Or pedophilia? I suppose the pope didn't want to send the whole clergy to hell.