New sins? Hardly.

It’s always amusing to work in our newsroom on days like today when other news outlets are misinterpreting — or purposely hyping out of proportion — a story involving the church. Today’s case in point, if you have not heard, is the interview a Vatican official gave to the Vatican newspaper on the social impact of sin in a globalized society.

Among today’s headlines: “Vatican introduces more ways to sin“, “Seven More Sins, Thanks to Vatican“, “New sins as bad as the old sins — Vatican official“, “Vatican Updates Its Thou-Shalt-Not List“, and my personal favorite, “Recycle or go to Hell, warns Vatican.”

Granted, some of these are simply headline writers having fun (a “sin” many of us in the business can admit to). But it of course begs the question of whether there is a catalogue of sins someone can look up, besides the Ten Commandments or the seven deadly sins. (Not even the Catechism of the Catholic Church has an index of sins, though it does have a great index of subjects that it covers.)

The amusement is in the phone calls that come in on a day like today, like the call I took from one Catholic communications official trying to track down the story because she had heard from a local reporter who thought that the addition of new sins to the existing “list” was one of the biggest stories of the year, something akin to an addition to the list of crimes eligible for the death penalty.

And that’s also why we urge readers to check with us to get the unadulterated version of a story getting heavy play in the mainstream media — we add no artificial ingredients. (And if you’ve gone this far without reading how we reported this story, you can click on the link here.)

UPDATE: Another good summary on how this story was wrongly reported is on the blog of America magazine. And it reminds me of last fall’s rumor du jour, the allegation that Bibles were being banned for the Beijing Olympics.

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