Vatican Says: “Men and Women Sin in Different Ways”

A new report out of the Vatican states that men and women sin differently. And how might the Catholic Church’s notions of what count as sins get divided up among gender lines?  Well seeing their other views on gender roles, the answer should surprise none of us.

A Catholic survey found that the most common sin for women was pride, while for men, the urge for food was only surpassed by the urge for sex.

The report was based on a study of confessions carried out by Fr Roberto Busa, a 95-year-old Jesuit scholar.

The Pope’s personal theologian backed up the report in the Vatican newspaper.

“Men and women sin in different ways,” Msgr Wojciech Giertych, theologian to the papal household, wrote in L’Osservatore Romano.

“When you look at vices from the point of view of the difficulties they create you find that men experiment in a different way from women.”

Msgr Giertych said the most difficult sin for men to face was lust, followed by gluttony, sloth, anger, pride, envy and greed.

For women, the most dangerous sins were pride, envy, anger, lust, and sloth, he added.

Well it’s good to know that we’re not reinforcing any stereotypes about men having insatiable sexual appetites and women being needlessly stubborn and intent on bringing down other people. Actually, I’m fairly surprised that gluttony didn’t make it higher up on the list of Top Female Sins. You know how us ladies love the chocolate, after all.

26 comments for “Vatican Says: “Men and Women Sin in Different Ways”

  1. platon20
    February 21, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Do you really think the average male sexual drive/appetitite is the same as the average female?

    I disagree, based upon both biological and social grounds.

  2. February 21, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I don’t know anything about “average” men and women, Planton — like I imagine you do, I know only about the men and women with whom I personally interact.

    And based on that anecdotal evidence from my personal life? Yes.

  3. Axiomatic
    February 21, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    So, for women, the most dangerous sins are almost the entirety of the list of deadly sins. Hell, apparently greed and gluttony are the only two deadly sins not dangerous to women.

    I am glad to hear that men are practically immune to greed, as are women too.

  4. February 21, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    They have SO much pride, they refuse to ordain women. And they claim women have too much pride? (((rolls eyes))) Remember, if women were running the Vatican, you wouldn’t be hearing this shit!

    (Yes, still hoping for ordination. Maybe when I am 99, I can be a priest and get in the local newspaper and everything. But I am sure generations of women hoped in vain for the same.)

  5. Keezee3
    February 21, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Since these results so obviously mirror general social stereotypes about the sexes, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Vatican is behind the so-called study. This ‘survey’ accurately follows the beliefs of the Catholic Church, but if the ‘survey’ didn’t, I don’t think it would have been published.

    One major drawback to me is that there is no data to support the conclusions, and no inclusion of how the data was obtained.

  6. Lynn
    February 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Keezee: I believe this was a result of recorded confessions.

    So, those that believe in the church framework enough to participate in confession (which is generally a very small/older minority) tend to at least report to their confessor in ways the confessor expects.

    …I wonder if those people knew their confessions were being documented for posterity? That would definitely affect how people responded.

  7. Nicole
    February 21, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    What the Vatican reports may be true. I do not know if the data was held to rigourous scientific methods and even then it would need to replicated by an independent investigator to be considered fact. But assuming these criteria were met it would only mean men and women CONFESS, not SIN in different ways. Since what lynn says is true. And even then it would not show some inherent difference in men and women since it is impossible to separate cultural influence in the small scope of this study.

  8. evil_fizz
    February 21, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    From the article:

    The revised list included seven modern sins it said were becoming prevalent during an era of “unstoppable globalisation”.

    These included: genetic modification, experiments on the person, environmental pollution, taking or selling illegal drugs, social injustice, causing poverty and financial greed.

    Is financial greed now distinguished from just plain ol’ greed? Curious.

    I also find it curious that the Vatican assumes that what is confessed is an actual cross sample of sin itself.

  9. February 21, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    it would only mean men and women CONFESS, not SIN in different ways.

    Or that the priest is hearing it that way.

    He hears that the guy is confessing lust, but *really* he is bragging about all the women he has had. (pride)

    A perceptive priest can nail you on that in two seconds. But probably not while he is transcribing everything you say! Good lord!

  10. MikeF
    February 21, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    But assuming these criteria were met it would only mean men and women CONFESS, not SIN in different ways.

    Right – it’s measuring what people feel guilty (or think they should feel guilty) about, specifically in the context of their Catholic faith. So if the church generally teaches that men’s “lust” and women’s “pride” are serious problems, then obviously they will be over-represented in the confessional booth. It’s a very self-reinforcing study.

  11. Titanis walleri
    February 21, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    “One major drawback to me is that there is no data to support the conclusions, and no inclusion of how the data was obtained.”
    Lack of objective proof? From a religion? Shocking!

  12. Kristen J.
    February 21, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    pride, envy, anger, lust, and sloth

    So you mean having pride in your accomplishments, envying your SOs talent in the kitchen, being angry when some asshole makes generalizations about your gender, thinking about the evening ahead and sitting on my sofa playing video games are all SINS? Shit. That was pretty much my entire Saturday.

  13. lilacsigil
    February 21, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Who says the Vatican never changes? It used to all be about those scary, lustful women dragging innocent men into sin with their wretched sinful bodies and uncontrollable appetites.

  14. Ellen
    February 21, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    You can tell I have spent too much time in school when my first response is to question the Vatican’s methods and wonder how in the hell that study could ever get through an IRB.

  15. Gina
    February 21, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Using heard confessions in a survey like this strikes me as extremely unethical.

  16. Ellen
    February 21, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    I wonder if they had every confessor sign a consent form.

  17. mustelid
    February 22, 2009 at 6:02 am

    Heh. So much for the sanctity of the confessional.

  18. Morningstar
    February 22, 2009 at 9:18 am

    “The report was based on a study of confessions carried out by Fr Roberto Busa, a 95-year-old Jesuit scholar.”

    that’s some real rigorous research standards there…

  19. Ellen
    February 22, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Just the fact that they reported men and women sinning differently, rather than men and women at this certain church confess different types of sins, should tell you something, about their knowledge of conducting research, and their egos.

  20. Jill D
    February 22, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Wow. I can’t but help think of Foucault! History of Sexuality.

    Gender construction through confession, yet again. Priests help identify what your sins are, in a co-constructed process through discourse. Through this process, Foucault argued that confession created western european gendered identities and family structures. It’s amazing that it is still going on today!

  21. rob
    February 23, 2009 at 8:04 am

    I think sloth is probably the safest sin. I might be biased, since it is my favorite. But all the other sins take effort, so sloth keeps ya safe from em.

  22. Featherstone, QC
    February 23, 2009 at 10:34 am


    I ask this in good faith in order to understand your theory of gender – do you know of science which demonstrates significant differences in the brain architecture of men and women? If so, do you reject this science and/or its application to gender altogether, or do you reject the implication that the physical differences yield differences in behavior?

    “And based on that anecdotal evidence from my personal life? Yes.”

    Are many of these men vegans or vegetarians? Do they consume significant quantities of soy or soy products?

  23. February 23, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Um, no Featherstone, I do not reject the idea that there are physical differences between men and women; I also don’t even reject the idea that some of those physical differences can cause some differences in behavior that tend to generally fall along gender lines! I just think that social factors tend to play a hell of a lot bigger role.

    Are many of these men vegans or vegetarians? Do they consume significant quantities of soy or soy products?

    No, but the women are all rabid meat-eaters! And also filthy sluts. Obviously.

  24. Ali
    February 23, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Hey! I’m not filthy!

    (I also don’t know you in the real world but that’s neither here nor there.)

  25. Keezee3
    March 14, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    I think it’s a little ironic that the study was carried out by a “95-year old Jesuit scholar”. This study also seems to be very geographically based, as in only a small portion of people were taken into account, which does not account for diversity. So saying that these traits are indicitive of men or women does not mean it applies to the rest of the world. If studies were done in more than one country, it might be a little more credible, but having a small sample size just denounces the findings, even if the findings are ridiculous in the first place.

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