How many sins are in your mission statement?

Written by Stan

Topics: Pulp and Paper

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The Vatican, in an effort to modernize the Catholic Church, has revised the list of mortal sins. Even those of us who fell asleep in the pews could recite the old list thanks to its archaic but charismatic words (sloth, wrath, avarice, etc.) but the new list has a decidedly contemporary character:

  1. Genetic modification
  2. Human experimentation
  3. Polluting the environment
  4. Causing social injustice
  5. Causing poverty
  6. Obscene wealth
  7. Taking drugs

I’m not a Catholic, so I didn’t know that there’s a whole department of the Catholic Church put in charge of managing sins (the Apostolic Penitentiary) but Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti says that these are really more of an update than brand new sins. Pollution is a new form of gluttony, for instance.

If yesterday sin had a rather individualistic dimension, today it has an impact and resonance that is above all social, because of the great phenomenon of globalization.

Rev. John Wauck from Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross explains it further:

We’re seeing now that the kinds of sin that have an impact not on particular individuals—I stole my neighbor’s property or I damaged his property—but I polluted in a way that damaged the entire environment, which doesn’t belong to me … it’s a sin in a certain sense against all of us.

The Vatican is walking the talk, as well, having committed to installing over 1000 solar panels, printing prayerbooks on recycled paper, and starting a reforestation program.

What struck me most about the list was that many companies, and not just the targets of RAN, now have mortal sins as their explicit mission statement. In fact, their charters are often the combination of two or more Seven Deadly Sins, like “Become Obscenely Wealthy by Polluting the Environment through Genetic Modification”.

We’re in the middle of Lent and Father James Martin, acting publisher of the Jesuit magazine America, notes this fact as well:

If you work for a company that pollutes the environment, you have something more important to consider for Lent than whether or not to give up chocolate.

It seems our targets have an authority greater than RAN they need to watch out for now.

6 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Great question! I see that RAN’s mission statement is:

    RAN is campaigning to break America’s oil addiction, reduce our reliance on coal, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world.

    Over the past year tens of thousands of people have asked RAN to explain how their support for FSC certification of primary and old-growth logging “protect(s) endangered forests”. And they have been entirely rebuffed. Now RAN is blocking protest emails on the matter from

    RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK, clean up your own house before talking about sins in your mission statement.
    Dr. Glen Barry
    Ecological Internet, Inc.

  2. Stan says:

    Glen, RAN’s mission statement is: “Rainforest Action Network campaigns for the forests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action.” Might want to double-check your facts before you go on a rant.

    Far from “entirely rebuffing” your claims, we’ve addressed many of them here in the past (like this post). Further, I’m the webmaster at RAN and we’re not, as far as I know, blocking any email. Sure you have the right address?

    I’ve got to wonder if you’re really interested in engaging on this issue or just like causing problems.

  3. You are awful good at personal insults and very poor at discussing ecological issues. I was referring to the tag line on your web site. Yeah, I am just trying to cause trouble. Clearly logging ancient forests protects them. Give me a break.

  4. Stan,
    Answer this one question in a short, straight forward manner with no personal attacks and I shall forever leave your forum in peace:

    How does FSC certified logging of primary and old-growth forests “protect endangered forests”?

    I have asked this question repeatedly of RAN, as have several thousand others, and you nor any of your fellow ancient forest sell-outs has provided and ecologically grounded, logically consistent response. In fact, you have not answered this at all. Here’s your chance Stan the Man. Put this attention grabbing political ecologist with 20 years studying this issue and a phd on this very topic in his place!

  5. Stan says:

    Challenge accepted. Here it is, a short and straight-forward answer with no attacks.

    “Simply, FSC certification isn’t the ultimate protection for endangered forests, but it is a vastly superior alternative to standard industrial logging. In forests that would otherwise be logged without third party oversight, FSC promotes practices that preserve ecosystem functions (like habitat and water quality) and safeguards the most ecologically valuable areas.”

    Thanks for the work you do, I hope this means we can work together on this and other important issues in the future.

  6. Simon Counsell says:

    FSC “is a vastly superior alternative to standard industrial logging. In forests that would otherwise be logged without third party oversight, FSC promotes practices that preserve ecosystem functions (like habitat and water quality) and safeguards the most ecologically valuable areas.”

    Readers might like to see the latest posting on FSC-Watch,, which shows numerous pictures of what FSC certified logging operations actually look like on the ground (or from space).

    Readers might like to try and identify where exactly the “preservation of ecosystem functions like habitat and water quality” is supposedly taking place.

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