“When choosing between two evils, I always try the one I’ve never tried before” – Mae West

Virtue is insufficient temptation” – George Bernard Shaw

We are all sinners but we can all be saved. The notion of sin keeps us vigilant and makes us humble.

The Roman Catholic Church recognizes seven virtues, which correspond inversely to each of the seven deadly sins.



Lust Chastity
Gluttony Temperance
Greed Charity
Sloth Diligence
Wrath/Anger Patience
Envy Kindness
Pride Humility

Dissatisfied with the falling numbers coming to confessions, in 2008 the Vatican supplemented this list with seven more sins, presumably on the basis that the more official sins there are, the more potential sinners there will be.

These new sins were delivered to trainee priests in Rome by Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti and published in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. They are as follows:

1. genetic modification
2. carrying out experiments on humans
3. polluting the environment
4. causing social injustice
5. causing poverty
6. becoming obscenely wealthy
7. taking drugs

As you can see, these are open to a fair degree of personal interpretation so are designed to keep the priests busy and would be sinners on their toes. At what point does normal wealth become obscene, for example?

Abortion and pedophilia are not on the list but held in reserve. The latter would have the advantage of being a sin that many of the priesthood have first hand experience of!

Apparently the Pope leads by example and confesses once a week.
Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall of the confession box?

If this is too sanctimonious for your taste , you could turn to David Byrne’s ‘New Sins’ (Todomundo, 2001) , which looks like a pocket bible but is actually intended as a “laptop for the soul”. In this small tome, Byrne risks the burning fires of hell by declaring faith to be “the ultimate illogical act” and maintains that what we routinely think of as virtues are actually vices.

His eleven ‘new sins’ are:  charity , sense of humour, beauty, thrift, ambition, hope, intelligence/knowledge,  contentment, sweetness, honesty and cleanliness

In a modern-day take on Nietzsche’s ‘Beyond Good And Evil’, Byrne argues that we must reject conventional notions of sin and virtue and embrace chaos in the soul. To achieve this state of grace, there is no safety in numbers, in fact:  “we must avoid other people and their lazy views, their television moralities and their pieties”

Alternatively, you could make up your own list of new sins.

These would be my current top seven, some more deadly than others:

1. Queue jumping – a national pastime in Italy, a mortal sin in any civilised nation. Get in line!

2. Disrespect for  punctuality – fashionably late, my arse; get a watch – use it!

3. Diplomatic immunity  –  they should receive double the punishment for betrayal of trust.

4. Insider trading – got a tip-off? – the least you can do is share it.

5. Craving to appear on TV game shows – lobotomy is the only known cure for this sin.

6. Spamming /Junk mailing – it should be possible to bounce messages/mail back…… in duplicate.

7. Bloggers who make endless lists  –  forgive me, Father!

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