In the Vatican’s latest update on how God’s law is being violated in today’s world, Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, was asked by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano what, in his opinion, are the “new sins.”
He cited “violations of the basic rights of human nature” through genetic manipulation, drugs that “weaken the mind and cloud intelligence,” and the imbalance between the rich and the poor.
“If yesterday sin had a rather individualistic dimension, today it has a weight, a resonance, that’s especially social, rather than individual,” said Girotti, whose office deals with matters of conscience and grants absolution.
Now, in fairness, these are not really “new sins,” as if the church can just declare new things bad that were not bad before. They are applications of the church’s natural law ethic. Still, the shift to more of an emphasis on social sins, as opposed to individual transgressions, does play into the liberal habit of projecting morality out to the fringes of responsibility, playing down individual behavior but emphasizing instead social attitudes as a measure of righteousness and self-righteousness. Hence, the importance of “political correctness” and leftwing posturing.
But it is true that our current technological and cultural context makes possible new ways of transgressing that were not available to sinners before. There is still the same old sexual sin, but now that we have online pornography we have even more ways of committing it.
We can play the same game as the Vatican. What are some “new sins,” in the sense that they are characteristic vices of our particular time that the sinners of the past didn’t have occasion to do?