By Malcolm Moore in Rome

Failing to recycle plastic bags could find you spending eternity in Hell, the Vatican said after drawing up a list of seven deadly sins for our times.

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The seven, which include polluting the environment, were announced by Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, a close ally of the Pope and the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, one of the Roman Curia’s main court.

Polluting the environment by failing to recycle is one of the new seven deadly sins

The “sins of yesteryear” – sloth, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath and pride – have a “rather individualistic dimension”, he told the Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper.

The new seven deadly, or mortal, sins are designed to make worshippers realise that their vices have an effect on others as well.

“The sins of today have a social resonance as well as an individual one,” said Mgr Girotti. “In effect, it is more important than ever to pay attention to your sins.”

According to Roman Catholic doctrine, mortal sins are a “grave violation of God’s law” and bring about “eternal death” if unrepented by the act of confession.

They are far more serious than venial sins, which impede a soul’s progress in the exercise of virtue and moral good.

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Mgr Girotti said genetic modification, carrying out experiments on humans, polluting the environment, causing social injustice, causing poverty, becoming obscenely wealthy and taking drugs were all mortal sins.