[Update, 5:39 pm Eastern: The Acton Institute's office in Rome has provided an English translation of Bishop Girotti's interview. In it, the bishop has his own criticism for the media. "[I]t is necessary also to denounce the emphasis given to the media that on a daily basis casts discredit on the Church.]
A supposed list of "new sins" from the Vatican, such as pollution and genetic manipulation, made headlines across the world on Monday. The list actually didn’t come from any official Catholic Church document, but from an interview of a bishop that was published in L'Osservatore Romano, the "semi-official" newspaper in Vatican City, and it exposed the mainstream media’s fundamental misunderstanding of Christianity in general, and the Catholic Church specifically.
L'Osservatore Romano printed the interview of Gianfranco Girotti, a bishop who is a member of the Vatican’s Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary, in its March 9 edition. In it, Girotti discussed "new forms of social sin," and gave examples such genetic manipulation and drug trafficking. Girotti, who is the number-two official at the Tribunal, is in the mid-level of the Vatican’s bureaucracy, and wouldn’t make any official decisions on behalf of the Catholic Church.
Despite Girotti’s lack of real authority, the mainstream media hyped up the interview as being authoritative. The Daily Telegraph’s website claimed that Girotti’s list of "new forms of social sin" "replaces the list originally drawn up by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century, which included envy, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath and pride." Reuters’ article reported that "the Vatican has told the faithful that they should be aware of "new" sins such as causing environmental blight." CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, on Monday’s "The Situation Room," even went so far to say that "some Christian teachings say love thy neighbor and don't lie, cheat, or steal? But might would one more virtue be added -- go green? Find out why the pope says polluting the planet is a sin." And Pope Benedict XVI wasn’t even the one who was interviewed by L'Osservatore Romano!