Vatican Makes Drug Use A Deadly Sin

With Pope Benedict XVI currently visiting the United States, many American Catholics are wondering: Could their ?innocent? drug use be putting their mortal souls at risk?

With Pope Benedict XVI currently visiting the United States, many American Catholics are wondering: Could their ?innocent? drug use be putting their mortal souls at risk?

Yes, it could, according the Vatican, which recently added seven new offenses to its list of deadly sins?among them, genetic modification, polluting the environment and taking drugs.

?I don?t think this is going to help anyone,? says Stephen Della Valle, author of the new addiction and recovery memoir Rising Above the Influence. ?Addicts already feel hopeless and worthless. With the Pope now telling them that they?re eternally damned, and that there?s nothing they can do about it, how likely will they be to seek help??

The Catholic Church has not updated its list of deadly sins in 1,500 years. This current modification, which also lists ?contributing to the widening divide between the rich and poor? and ??morally dubious? experiments such as stem cell research,? seeks to address today?s more secular world and what the Pope has referred to as our ?decreasing sense of sin.?

Today, there?s no doubt that drug use is an international epidemic. Surveys have shown disturbing addiction trends in nations around the world, including:
? Mexico: marijuana, cocaine and inhalants reported as the most-used drugs
? East and South Asia: heroin is the number-one choice; cannabis comes in second
? Australia: while marijuana and amphetamines remain most popular, heroin is becoming more widely available
? Various European countries: heroin and other opiates continue to top the list
? Canada: marijuana is most widely used, but heroin is a growing problem, and cocaine is considered a major health issue

?I understand where the Vatican is coming from on this,? says Mr. Della Valle. ?Drug abuse is a serious problem in many countries. But I?d be more impressed if they created a Church-based recovery program to help the drug and alcohol abusers of the world, instead of condemning them.?

Stephen Della Valle is president of the board of directors at Turning Point rehabilitation center in Verona, New Jersey. Currently celebrating twenty years of sobriety, he lives in Oak Ridge, New Jersey, with his wife, Donna. He has three children.

Rising Above the Influence is available now (ISBN: 0-9801776-0-X; softcover; Oak Ridge Press) on,,, and at fine bookstores everywhere.


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by Olga Vladi (few years ago!)

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