Something New Under the Sun

This reading is in support of the St Thomas mission to support the Year of Faith and the Emeritus Pontiff’s call for mission.

Many do not realize, that we get the phrase “There is nothing new under the sun” from the Bible.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says “That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.

We are aware, either from our Religious Education and the Catechism, or from popular media of the Seven Deadly Sins. These are often known as the Seven Mortal Sins. That is the set of sins, that is left unresolved, will result in the sinner’s soul going straight to hell upon death.

In the Catechism IV:1857 it is stated that “For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent”. Dying without asking for forgiveness and being repentant of these sins are fatal to the soul, hence the name “Deadly Sins”. These are probably most famous in Dante’s Inferno and they are: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

We know from our teachings that God granted us the Seven Virtues, which we receive upon confirmation. These are: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility.

But did you know that there are seven more additional “Mortal Sins” recognized by the church? Our Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI helped officially recognized a change, after 1,500 years to the list of deadly sins. The Vatican brought the seven deadly sins up to date by adding seven new ones for the age of globalization.

The list, published March 10, 2008 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 deadly sins include polluting, genetic engineering, being obscenely rich, drug dealing, abortion, pedophilia and causing social injustice.

This list has not received a great deal of attention, and the evolution of the church is certainly one which takes a long time, but isn’t the accumulation of obscene wealth tied to greed? What is obscene, when it comes to wealth? No one could argue that destroying or polluting the beautiful nature that God created would certainly be against his will, but again, what constitutes polluting? If I leave behind a scrap of paper, have I doomed my soul? If I trample the grass? Isn’t polluting an extension of the sin of sloth? The different words used in the Bible make sloth more akin to apathy and inactivity, than simple laziness.

Genetic manipulations are a far more complex issue, but putting yourself directly in opposition to science has not been a successful tactic over history for the church. Some of these experiments and techniques are saving lives and bettering the quality of life for many. This could be seen as charity and kindness toward those afflicted.

A committee of eight Cardinals met this past week to discuss making changes to the Vatican constitution. Changes to this document are more common than you think in the history of the church. The last major change came under Pope John Paul II. We can expect to see major changes in the authority Rome exerts and how much authority the regional Bishops will have.

We can hope that they will then revisit the scripture and find themselves in Eccelsiates, where they may discover there is “nothing new under the sun.”