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Vatican Lists New Sin: DNA Manipulation

Sinning has gone global, according to a Vatican official who has singled out genetic experiments, pollution and mind-damaging drugs as among today's new sins.

Also receiving fresh attention by the Vatican are society's injustices, along the lines of the age-old maxim: "The rich get richer while the poor get poorer."

After last year's "Ten Commandments" against road rage and other sins committed behind the wheel, the Vatican has provided its latest update on how God's law is being violated with modern means.

"The poor are always becoming poorer and the rich ever more rich, feeding unsustainable social injustice," Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano in an interview published Sunday.

Girotti was asked what, in his opinion, are the "new sins."

He cited "violations of the basic rights of human nature" through genetic manipulation; drugs which "weaken the mind and cloud intelligence" as well as imbalances between rich and poor.

"If yesterday sin had a rather individualistic dimension, today it has a weight, a resonance, that's especially social, rather than individual," said the monsignor, whose office deals with matters of conscience and grants absolution.

Vatican officials stressed that Girotti's comments broke no new ground on what constitutes sin.

Both Benedict and the late Pope John Paul II frequently expressed concern about the environment. Under Benedict's papacy, Vatican engineers developed plans for some Holy See buildings to use solar energy, including photovoltaic cells on the roof of the auditorium for pilgrims' audiences with the pontiff.

John Paul dedicated much of his long papacy to condemning the gap between have and have-nots in speeches in his travels throughout the world as well as in writings.

Closer to home, Girotti was asked about the many "situations of scandal and sin within the Church," in what appeared to be a reference to allegations in the U.S. and several other countries of sexual abuse by clergy of minors and coverups by hierarchy.

The monsignor acknowledged the "objective gravity" of the allegations, but contended that the heavy coverage by mass media of the scandals must also be denounced because it "discredits the Church."

Benedict has been leading the Vatican's campaign against abortion, and Girotti was asked about the "widespread perception" that the Church does not consider women's "difficult" predicament.

Girotti rejected that view, saying that Catholic organizations help unwed mothers, educating "their children who come into the worth because of their lack of foresight" and facilitating adoption.

Last year, the Vatican took on the social problem of road accidents, issuing a kind of "Ten Commandments" for drivers against the sins of road rage, alcohol abuse and even rudeness behind the wheel.