NOW, the souls of drug-pushers, the obscenely rich, environmental polluters and “manipulative” genetic scientists will go to Hell, unless they repent and seek redemption.
After 1,500 years, the Vatican has brought the seven deadly sins up to date by adding seven new ones for the age of globalisation.
The list of sins, published yesterday in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, came as the Pope deplored the "decreasing sense of sin" in today's "secularized world" and the falling numbers of Roman Catholics going to confession.
The new deadly sins are polluting, genetic engineering, being obscenely rich, drug dealing, abortion, pedophilia and causing social injustice.
The Catholic Church divides sins into venial, or less serious sins and mortal sins, which threaten the soul with eternal damnation unless absolved before death through confession and penitence.
It holds mortal sins to be "grave violations of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes," including murder, contraception, abortion, perjury, adultery and lust.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into Hell."
Although there is no definitive list of mortal sins, many believers accept the broad seven deadly sins or capital vices laid down in the 6th century by Pope Gregory, the Great and popularized in the Middle Ages by Dante in "The Inferno": lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, anger, envy and pride.
Christians are exhorted instead to adhere to the seven holy virtues: chastity, abstinence, temperance, diligence, patience, kindness and humility. Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican body that oversees confessions and plenary indulgences, said after a weeklong Lenten seminar for priests, surveys showed that 60 per cent of Catholics in Italy no longer went to confession.
He said priests must take account of "new sins, which have appeared on the horizon of humanity as a corollary of the unstoppable process of globalization. " Whereas sin in the past was thought of as being an individual matter, it now has "social resonance."
"You offend God not only by stealing, blaspheming or coveting your neighbor's wife, but also by ruining the environment, carrying out morally debatable scientific experiments, or allowing genetic manipulations which alter DNA or compromise embryos," he said.
-Pope issues new sins list