The seven deadly sins got their name not from the Bible but from ancients of the church. These early Christians listed sins that were at the head (caput) of a column, sins from which others flowed. We translate that concept as “capital sins.” The capital-deadly sins are indeed deadly, and deserve attention.
We do not have to take them as they are, however. W. C. Fields once said he’d been studying the Bible for years, looking for a loophole. The French have recently begun to set a precedent for loophole-seeking, or at least lessening the brunt of the deadly sins. The French? Mainly a set of French people who have formed De la Question Gourmande (New York Times, March 6), devoted to the cause of getting the Vatican to remove from the sin list what is in English, “gluttony,” in French, “la gourmandise.” The secretary-general of the group says “the pope was not unsympathetic.”