The Seven Deadly Sins (New International Version)
So out go pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth - for the language is far too Shakespearean to be comprehensible to modern man - and in come such pasteurised sins as might lead to such new commandments as:
Thou shalt not carry out morally dubious scientific experiments
Thou shalt not push drugs
Thou shalt not pollute the earth
Thou shalt not be obscenely wealthy
Thou shalt not be pro-abortion
Thou shalt not molest young boys (unless they be of the altar variety)
The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church states that ‘immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into Hell’, and now the faithful shall be in no excuse as they stand before the Almighty. The previous plea of the incomprehensibility of Elizabethan verbiage shall no longer be an adequate defence on the Great Day of His Wrath, for the Lord shall point out that His Holiness gave it in the vernacular.
Yes, the His Holiness who is sufficiently retro to revive Latin has now modernised the English definition of sin, and it will make uncomfortable reading for Professor Lord Winston, the nice poppy-growers of Afghanistan, those industrious Chinese men busy building power stations, Bill Gates, Tony Blair, and quite a few Roman Catholic priests and the odd Anglican one.
Whilst having some sympathy for what Pope Benedict is attempting to accomplish with this innovation, Cranmer thinks that it a little like a GCSE approach to Shakespeare where the text is eradicated and pupils are left with comic-book pictures and the story told in rap. The original Seven Deadly Sins have a lyrical beauty and a moral gravity which have haunted the conscience of man for centuries. They have inspired Chaucer, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Webster, Ford, Tourneur; not to mention Bunyan, Milton, Dante and Bosch, whose visions of hell have endured throughout the ages. Yet the Vatican has performed a miracle of turning meat into milk, and semi-skimmed at that.
His Holiness may be right to point out that ‘we are losing the notion of sin’, but by insisting on the need for frequent priestly confession, talking of a ‘spiritual rhythm’ (method?), and boasting that His Holiness ‘confesses his sins regularly once a week’, the Vatican shows that it has no grasp of the vernacular at all.
When one looks at this new list of sins, the heathen, separated brethren, and those who belong to mere ‘ecclesial communities’ might be forgiven for thinking that the Vatican itself might be more than a little guilty of the odd mortal sin… obscenely wealthy… paedophilia… And precisely who defines the level at which wealth becomes ‘obscene’, or which science is ‘morally dubious?
And the Vatican does itself no favours by brushing off paedophile priests as ‘exaggerations by the mass media aimed at discrediting the Church’. It has about as much credibility as Lee Jasper’s tirade against the media for the ‘racist’ manner in which it has sought to expose his misdemeanours. It is a proud and arrogant declaration when a tone of sorrow and repentance would be more in keeping with Christian humility and empathetic respect for the victims.
Cranmer happens to believe that sin is defined by God, not man, and that this is quite an unnecessary reform, especially from a Pope who tends to eschew the Tabletesque approach to matters Catholic. And Cranmer can hardly wait to read how The Catholic Herald will reconcile the trendy development with its adulation of the belovedly orthodox Papa Benedict.
And Cranmer wonders why His Holiness has omitted ‘Thou shalt not watch The Sound of Music’…