March 10, 2008

Green, the color of Lent, coming soon to a RC Church near you!

About five weeks ago, Robbo did a post noting some silly program in the Episcopal Church encouraging people to think about things like their "carbon footprint" and whatnot for Lent, which served as a marvelous jumping off point for some of our more shall we say less nuanced commentators to go into full overdrive spittle flecking "Episcopals are Apostates" mode.

Here was the keygraph:

(I wonder does anybody go to Confession with a laundry list of the number of times they've forgotten to turn off a lamp, used plastic bags or failed to separate their paper and glass recycling?)

The answer? You will have to now!

Recycle or go to Hell, warns Vatican
By Malcolm Moore in Rome
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 10/03/2008

Failing to recycle plastic bags could find you spending eternity in Hell, the Vatican said after drawing up a list of seven deadly sins for our times.

The seven, which include polluting the environment, were announced by Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, a close ally of the Pope and the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, one of the Roman Curia's main court.

Polluting the environment by failing to recycle is one of the new seven deadly sins

The "sins of yesteryear" - sloth, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath and pride - have a "rather individualistic dimension", he told the Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper.

The new seven deadly, or mortal, sins are designed to make worshippers realise that their vices have an effect on others as well.

"The sins of today have a social resonance as well as an individual one," said Mgr Girotti. "In effect, it is more important than ever to pay attention to your sins."

According to Roman Catholic doctrine, mortal sins are a "grave violation of God's law" and bring about "eternal death" if unrepented by the act of confession.

They are far more serious than venial sins, which impede a soul's progress in the exercise of virtue and moral good.

Mgr Girotti said genetic modification, carrying out experiments on humans, polluting the environment, causing social injustice, causing poverty, becoming obscenely wealthy and taking drugs were all mortal sins.

Sounds like it's a mortal sin now to be American, at least by Euro-weenie standards.

The fun part? For us, the MDG's are entirely optional, and you may feel free to ignore. For you guys? Not so much.

Cue it up, Abbot and Mrs. P: The horror!

Wait, there's more:

The comments of the original "Green Lent" post veered into attacking the Episcopal Church for promoting birth control by--horrors!-- promoting use of condoms. Not to go all humane vitae on you guys, but this is one of the funniest things I've read in awhile:

A Vatican-sanctioned sex guide is encouraging churchgoers to make love more often in an effort to offset "impotence and frigidity" and address papal concerns over declining birth-rates among Italian Roman Catholics.

The controversial book, It's A Sin Not To Do It, written by two theologians, promises the reader answers to "everything you wanted to know about sex but the Church (almost) never dared to tell you".

In their attempt to galvanise the faithful, Roberto Beretta and Elisabetta Broli, who write regularly for the Italian Bishops' magazine, Avvenire, have written one of the raciest works ever to deal with the Church and sex.

Bullet points on the jacket cover underline the central message: "Sex? God invented it. Original sin? Sex has nothing to do with it. Without sex there is no real marriage."

"When people think of the Church and sex, they think of prohibitions and taboos," said Beretta. "But there is a very different and positive side to Church doctrine which needs to be emphasised."

In both style and content, the guide - published earlier this month - marks a radical break with traditional Church pronouncements on physical intimacy. Forty years ago, the Vatican published a notorious set of guidelines for courting Catholics that outlawed even French kissing before marriage.

The pages of It's A Sin Not To Do It, however, feature a frank interview with Cardinal Ersilio Tonini in which he emphasises that "the Church is not an enemy of the flesh". He argues that Vatican doctrine has always defended the "nobility of sexuality", which is regarded by the Church as a "treasure" of humanity.

Another chapter likely to raise eyebrows unearths theological justification for post-coital masturbation for women who fail to achieve orgasm during intercourse.

Beretta told The Telegraph: "The Church is not against sex. Something needed to be done about the cliches and stereotypes. The Church is not only about forbidding the use of contraception and warning against the sins of the flesh.

"In view of the trivialisation of sex and the rise of impotence and frigidity in consequence, as well as the increasing number of only children, it is better for the Church to promote sex in the right circumstances, instead of just focusing on prohibitions and perversions."

The authors have included passages taken from previous papal statements on sexuality, and pronouncements from cardinals who advocate a "healthy Catholic materialism" about marital sex.

The Vatican has regularly expressed its concerns over Italy's low birth rate, which stands at fewer than nine births per thousand inhabitants. Two years ago, in an address to the Italian parliament, Pope John Paul described the declining rate as "a serious threat that weighs on the future of the country".

According to Beretta, the book is a comprehensive summary of Church doctrine on sexuality, couched in deliberately populist language.

He said: "We deliberately set out to discuss the Church's attitude towards sex in frank, secular language. But everything in this book is taken from conventional doctrine. Because of the widespread assumption that the Church loathes sexuality, most people are not aware of the positive things it has to say about physical intimacy."

He is now awaiting reader reaction. "The Vatican has not raised any concerns about the tone and style of the book," he said. "Some people might find it a little direct. But at least after reading this book, they will have a balanced picture of what the Church actually thinks about sex."

No word on whether there's a picture of a pouty-mouthed buck-toothed Ethel Kennedy in a leather bustierre and whip on the cover...

Posted by Steve-O at March 10, 2008 09:45 AM | TrackBack

I can't help thinking of Laurence Olivier's Lord Marchmain when you write about the Church. Have you seen or read "Brideshead Revisited?" Additionally, I think of the reference to the Father Brown mysteries, referenced in Waugh's novel. Cordelia reminds Charles of the evening at Brideshead when her mother read aloud from a detective story written by G. K. Chesterton, and was interrupted by Sebastian making his first drunken appearance. “Father Brown said something like ‘I caught him’ [the thief] with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world and still bring him back with a twitch upon the thread.” Brideshead Revisited, if the author’s intention matters, is a story of some fishes lost in a great sea until they are finally hauled to safety by a jerk of the pole in the hands of the Fisher King.

You hop around the perimeter of the R.C. Church, pointing and doing the Nelson Muntz "Ha ha!", but it still feels as if you could be brought back with but a "twitch upon the thread," to quote Father Brown.
Well, if you haven't read it or seen it, it may be too rambling to flesh out in this posting.

Just the feeling I get, or perhaps it is wishful thinking.

Posted by: Monica at March 10, 2008 10:44 AM

It seems to me that all these new sins can be reduced to that grand old sin, Pride. But then again even the original seven deadly sins were merely Pride in fancy dress.

Posted by: old school lady at March 10, 2008 11:18 AM

Ah - Steve-O my boy. You warm my heart with your apostatin' ways. And you're damn funny besides.

Posted by: Chai-rista at March 10, 2008 11:41 AM

Evelyn Waugh is great stuff, and Jeremy Irons was wonderful. My point is, though, the Fisher King doesn't necessarily wear the Papal Tiara. To say what I was doing in the post was Nelson Muntzing is exactly right: this whole process has radicalized me as an Episcopalian, listening to the systematic and vulgar trashing the Episcopal priesthood in particular and faith in general has been taking from commentators. The Green thing was one such example offered up of the stupidity and vulgarity of my faith: my pointing out, Nelson Muntz style, that the Vatican is doing it now too is exactly that, a sound Nelson Muntz "Ha Ha."

My finest hour? No. But a fella can only take so much.

And that might be very well all I have to say.

Posted by: Steve-O at March 10, 2008 12:20 PM

Really now, this is over the top. Did you have to give us that image of Ethel Kennedy?

Posted by: rbj at March 10, 2008 12:39 PM

See? I'm evil.

Posted by: Steve-O at March 10, 2008 12:43 PM

(sigh) If your selections reflect the current communications theme at HQ, it sounds like our fine Teutonic pope has himself a new Chief Marketing Officer. In Corporate America, I'm told that the typical CMO lasts just over 2 years. May we hope for the same here.

I mean, honestly. Telling an Irish Catholic to go get busy with his or her spouse. What's next, 'The bishop says to go ahead and have a pint'? Hello? This is what we do, people.

Posted by: tdp at March 10, 2008 02:18 PM

Steve, did the Pope himself actually announce that "These are the new Seven Deadly Sins" or did some reporter bloke (or his editor) think this was a spiffy headline? I think I'll wait for the encyclical to find out if there is any New Teaching rather than taking Fox News or even "The Times" (of London, as you colonials insist on adding) as my cathechism.

I agree that it's not fair to bash the Episcopal Church (since it's doing such a fine job of running itself into the ground). However, I'm a little fuzzy on what your point about more sex is - after all, if it's to increase the birth rate, I don't think the use of condoms is being encouraged here?

Posted by: Fuinseoig at March 10, 2008 04:14 PM

Ah Steve...I suggest standing back and taking a deep breath when it comes to the reporting of the Catholic Church...that way you won't fall so hard for incorrect reports:

The Forum: Not "new sins" but an old media blind spot

by Phil Lawler

Mar. 10, 2008 ( - When he finished his interview with L'Osservatore Romano, Archishop Gianfranco Girotti probably thought that his main message had been an appeal to Catholics to use the sacrament of Confession. Little did he know that the English-language news media would play the interview as a newly revised list of sins.

Archbishop Girotti, the regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, spoke to the Vatican newspaper about "new forms of social sin" in our era. He mentioned such transgressions as destructive research on human embryos, degradation of the environment, and drug trafficking. Within hours, dozens of media sources were suggesting that the Vatican had radically revised the Ten Commandments, issuing a list of "new sins."

As usual, a British newspaper leapt to the forefront with the most sensational and misleading coverage. The Daily Telegraph made the preposterous claim that Archbishop Girotti's list replaced the traditional Catholic understanding of the seven deadly sins:

It replaces the list originally drawn up by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century, which included envy, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath and pride.

Could we have a reality check, please?

When a second-tier Vatican official gives a newspaper interview, he is not proclaiming new Church doctrines. Archbishop Girotti was obviously trying to offer a new, provocative perspective on some enduring truths. The effort backfired-- but in a very revealing way.

An ordinary reader, basing his opinion only on the inane Telegraph coverage, might conclude that a "sin," in the Catholic understanding, is nothing more than a violation of rules set down by a group of men in Rome. If these rules are entirely arbitrary, then Vatican officials can change them at will; some sins will cease to exist and other "new sins" will replace them. But that notion of sin is ludicrous.

Sin is an objective wrong: a violation of God's law. What is sinful today will be sinful tomorrow, and a deadly sin will remain deadly, whether or not Telegraph editors recognize the moral danger. The traditional list of deadly sins remains intact; nothing has replaced it. Greed, gluttony, and lust are as wrong today as they were a day or a year or a century ago. If Archbishop Girotti referred to "new" sins, it is because some of the offenses he named (such as genetic manipulation) were impossible in the past, and others (such as international drug trafficking) are much more prevalent today, in a global society. Insofar as people could have engaged in these activities a century ago, they would have been sinful then as well.

A sin is not a sin because simply an archbishop proclaims it so. Sin, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us, "is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience…" The precepts of "reason, truth, and right conscience" do not shift in response to political trends, nor do they change at the whim of Vatican officials.

The fundamental point of the L'Osservatore Romano interview was that Catholics need to recover a sense of sin, make use of the sacrament of Confession, and receive absolution for their offenses. Sin, the archbishop insisted, is a reality that man cannot escape.

Archbishop Girotti said that the modern world does not understand the nature of sin. With their coverage of the interview, the mass media unintentionally underlined the prelate's point.

Posted by: Mrs. Peperium at March 10, 2008 07:20 PM

About your sex story with might be helpful for your readers that you point out the article you cited was from November of 2004. Here's a bit more on those two writers and 'their book'for your readers:

Heretical Book Just the Latest from Horny 'Theologians'
November 22, 2004

ASJ is often asked what we’re talking about when we denounce movements in the Catholic Church that wrongly exalt sex at the expense of our traditional teachings about sexuality. Well, a perfect example has arrived off the presses to serve as Exhibit A. The book It’s a Sin Not to Do It, by Italian theologians Roberto Beretta and Elisabetta Broli, is by no means a novelty, but a representative work in a genre we mockingly call “sexual liberation theology.” These books invariably claim that the Catholic instinct to be hushed and restrictive about sex is actually opposed to the “true” divine teachings about sex.

The authors write in the context of very low fertility rates in Italy. They believe this problem is caused by widespread frigidity among Italians that results from the Church promoting a pervasive, negative view of sex!

If this were the extent of their remarks, they would be dismissed as a laughable. But the real danger of this book is the theological statements it makes on the nature of sex and sin. As if the title isn’t sinister enough, the book jacket is littered with bullets that compromise Catholic and Biblical truth.

In fact, the book directly attacks the very teachings that ASJ is working to restore to the Church. Therefore, one by one, the Apostolate of St. Jerome, guided by our Patron and his knowledge of the sacred texts, exposes these lies for what they are. We take three bullets from the book jacket, and refute each in turn. Please bear with us in our repetitions of their shameful and offensive words.

Bullet 1: “Sex? God created it!”
This comment shows the direct contrast between the authors and ASJ. For we claim that the single biggest error in the Church right now is the belief that God created sex. But actually this lie of theirs has a hint of truth to it. For in one sense God did create sex. He created sex for animals to reproduce. But that Adam and Eve had no need of sex before the Fall St. Jerome hints at when he explains that Adam and Eve were “virgins unspotted” in their Edenic bliss. Indeed, they would have stayed that way but for the fact that our nature was so changed as a result of sin that we fell to the shame of generating in the manner of the beasts.

We know God couldn’t have made sex because when He finally restores creation in the resurrection, we will be, as Jesus reminds us, “like the angels who neither marry nor are given in marriage.” It would be absurd to think that God would create something good for temporal paradise and then ban it from eternal paradise. This would have God undoing his own creation. And further evidence of this is that the first fruits of the New Creation of both sexes, Jesus and the Virgin Mary, were both destined to have lives free of copulation. The New Adam and Eve regain what Adam and Eve had lost—the ability to generate without sex.

God never intended for humans to have sex. He permits it by concession in marriage when it is open to conception to avoid totally losing our race.

Bullet 2: “Original Sin? Sex has nothing to do with it!”
In the New Testament gospel of Matthew, the Church has always attached significance to the fact that the passage about children coming to Jesus comes right after the teachings about marriage. We take this to mean that marriage and children are linked in the divine will. Juxtaposition of themes means something in Scripture. So when Adam and Eve are banished from Eden in Genesis, and then in the very next line we hear that “Adam knew Eve,” Israelites and Christians of every era of understood that there was a connection between these two acts. This is obscured a little today by chapter designations which many do not understand are not part of the inspired text.

In pre-Christian belief, an emission of semen, even in marital intercourse, rendered a man unclean for worship. This is a direct connection between sex and sin. The Catholic Christian Church rightly took this belief and ran with it. Whether the priesthood, the life of Jesus, or the life of Mary, we find lives of abstinence everywhere that the stain of sin has no right to exist.

What is puzzling is that even the much more common view of Thomas Aquinas and others (incorrect in our opinion) that believes in prelapsarian intercourse, holds that the sex experience would be markedly different had man not fallen. Only persons totally ignorant of the Scriptures could suggest that Original Sin and sex have nothing to do with one another.

Bullet 3: “Without sex there is no real marriage.”
This statement is true, sex is essential to form a sacramental marriage, but it is misleading. The authors try to argue that sex must be good because without it there is no marriage which is good. But when the truth about marriage is understood, that it is a remedial state far beneath celibacy but well above fornication, the argument loses its force. As St. Jerome teaches, God tolerates sex as being preferable to fornication. But He would rather His children be able to live celibacy and virginity and not need marriage. The authors might as well say that without crucifixion there is no Paschal Mystery, and therefore crucifixion is good. God tolerated seeing His son treated this way because He knew He could bring good out of it. He would have rather Jesus never need to die. The same goes for marriage.

These writers make all the same tired mistakes as the rest of the pseudo-Catholic theologians out there. Finally, they reach the depraved but logical result of their errors. They purportedly offer justification for post-coital masturbation. Here they directly conflict Church teaching, expressed in Casti Connubii, which condemns such “laying much stress on these physiological matters, in which is learned rather the art of sinning in a subtle way than the virtue of living chastely.”

It would be one thing if these two were just lone voices in the wilderness, but their same errors are running rampant all over Christendom. And such views draw no condemnations from official Church leaders and thus give Catholics no reason to think they are illegitimate.

The only reason ASJ isn’t more concerned about these heretics is that their own logic is so preposterous that no intelligence person could believe them. For are we really to believe that single-child families and low birth rates are a result of a lack of sex? Does not a more obvious reason come to mind? Of course it does. Sex is just as popular as ever inside and outside of marriage. It’s just that contraception use is far more prevalent than it was in the prior nineteen centuries when all Christian groups saw birth control for the perversion that it is.

This duo has collaborated on books before. In a previous work, The Eleven Commandments, they set out to expose a variety of Scriptural myths that they claim Catholics wrongly believe. Most of these are harmless like “Eve didn’t eat an apple,” and “Jesus wasn’t born on 25 December.” Duh. But thanks for attacking the authors of children’s books who, following the command to let the little ones come to Jesus, seek to make palatable to kids the violent and sexual pages of the Bible. These mistakes are not on the Church but on the part of Catholic adults who get little if any religious education after childhood. Do the authors also want us to tell children that the revelry at the golden calf was a sexual orgy? Or that the fourth joyful mystery is really a partial mutilation of the male genital? Actually, they would probably like that. For it is well-known in Vatican circles that these two unmarried journalists have, shall we say, a bit more than a mere professional relationship. Like many heretical theologians they do not live the Church’s teaching about sexuality, but their own false teachings that pervert the Lord’s truth to their own destruction. When such ideas come from so-called “theologians” they often carry weight with the public. But hopefully ASJ can expose this couple for the horny, intellectual light-weights that they are.

It is good in a sense that books like this make it into the public eye. They make concrete the face of the enemy that we claim to combat. They draw into sharp relief the critical battle over the direction of the Church’s sexual theology.

On one side stands fallen, miserable creatures like Beretta and Broli, unable to let their spiritual senses see above the desires of the fallen flesh. They want to say that sex was part of God’s creation, and that anyone who would seek to do without opposes God’s will.

On the other side of the apocalyptic battle plain are the heroes of Catholic orthodoxy, under the blazing standard of the Apostolate of St. Jerome. We claim that we can only deliver the Church and society from the plague of sexual sin by realizing that sex is a stain on our Original nature, never intended by God, who will, on the contrary, do away with this act when He re-fashions our bodies in the resurrection. By living celibacy and virginity, we help usher in the age when all Christians join Jesus and Mary as perpetual celibates in the joy of heaven.

Posted by: Mrs. Peperium at March 10, 2008 07:28 PM

Steve-o, that last one was for shock value. After reading what you wrote of what I've written, I felt like tossing it at you.

Sorry. It's just I've been where you are headed and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

Posted by: Mrs. Peperium at March 10, 2008 09:40 PM


Posted by: Steve-O at March 10, 2008 11:53 PM

Was out of town yesterday, so I missed it.

Briefly: I'll wait for the encyclical.

As for the book on sex, well, it's probably ill advised. Europe's problem is not that they don't know about sex, it's that they start having abortions at 14.

Humanae Vitae is a greatly underrated encyclical; all the predictions for which it was mocked have come true, and its view of human sexuality is more enlightened than that of virtually any document in our culture. It values it properly; the culture does not.

Posted by: The Abbot at March 11, 2008 06:38 AM


I do not know what Cleveland means and at this point I no longer care. I threw that last piece at you to shock you. I wasAs if to throw cold water on you and stop you from being so rude.

You were rude. You must have forgotten that you were the one who wrote me last December 14 (we had never exchanged private emails before) telling me you were entering the Episcopal Church. You told me you couldn't really say why, just that you were being called that way and then you asked me to pray for you. In follow up emails, you and I agreed to spar over the two churches while remaining polite.

Then last night I read this:

"To say what I was doing in the post was Nelson Muntzing is exactly right: this whole process has radicalized me as an Episcopalian, listening to the systematic and vulgar trashing the Episcopal priesthood in particular and faith in general has been taking from commentators."

I can honestly say that had you not sent me that email, I never would have gone as far as I did with my sparring. I may have had a comment or two but nothing like I did. I barely knew you and frankly, wouldn't have cared as to what you were up to. But you had sought me out so that changed things. Several weeks ago, I saw your mind was made up about the Episcopal Church and I gave trying.

Last week I saw you mocking the sacrament of confession in the Catholic Church while noting how long the Rite of confession service is in the book of Common Prayer. You failed to point out the main difference between of the sacrament of confession in the Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church. In the Catholic Church it, like all the other sacraments, is necessary. You must do it once a year to remain in good standing. In the Episcopal Church it is not necessary. As a result, in my 37 years as an Episcopalian my priests never offered the Rite of Confession to me..not even before I was married. The general confession was good enough for them, therefore for me. But is it really? Does a general confession really wipe away mortal sins?

That's a big difference. One that is worth sparring over. But I'm done for good because as you wrote, I've contributed to your radicalization as an Episcopalian.

For that I am truly sorry.

Posted by: Mrs. Peperium at March 11, 2008 07:43 AM

Hey, I was going for loopy and snarky, not rude and angry, but if it came across as rude of course I'm sorry. The Cleveland line is an injoke in the Butcher's Shop.

Of course what I SHOULD be apologizing for is the visceral image of Ethel Kennedy with a come-hither look in S&M gear, but I'm not sorry one whit. Suffer!!!!

Posted by: Steve-O at March 11, 2008 09:37 AM