Different Sins For Different Sexes According to a new study, Roman Catholic men and women sin differently. The study was based on confessions taken by a Jesuit scholar and supported by the Vatican.
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Different Sins For Different Sexes

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Different Sins For Different Sexes

Different Sins For Different Sexes

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Coming up, modern-day Indiana Joneses hunting not for lost treasure but soon-to-be lost languages.

But first, libraries of books have been written about the alleged differences between men and women. Here's an interesting addition. According to a new study, Roman Catholic men and women sin differently. The study was based on confessions taken by a 95-year-old Jesuit scholar, and the results were supported by the Vatican.

Father James Martin joins us now. He is a Jesuit, but not nearly 95. He's an associate editor at America, the Catholic weekly magazine, and joins us from New York.

Thank so much for being with us.

Father JAMES MARTIN (America Magazine): My pleasure.

SIMON: So according to this study, how do men and women sin differently?

Father MARTIN: Well, according to the study, men's first sin in terms of the Seven Deadly Sins is lust, and women's is pride. Although it's interesting, you read the survey, and you could also interpret it as those are the sins that they confess more, which may not mean that they're actually sinning in that way. But those are the sins that they confess most often to confessors.

SIMON: I was not surprised to see the list, and see that up there at number two and three for men is gluttony and sloth.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Father MARTIN: Are you speaking from personal experience or…

SIMON: I'll make the jokes here, Father.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Well, let's just say for women, it was envy and anger.

Father MARTIN: Well, it's interesting. You know, I spoke with some women today and I said, what do you think about the pride, number one? And they said, well, interestingly, according to them - and I don't want to generalize - but you know, women may be more encouraged when they're young not to be proud. Right? And be more self-effacing.

And so they actually may be more attentive to the sin of pride than men would be. But that may not mean that they're, you know, any more proud than men are but just that they confess it more.

SIMON: That's very similar to my thinking. I wondered if what women would identify as the sin of pride, men would identify as just, you know, a little bit of swagger and self-confidence.

Father MARTIN: Well, right. And I mean, you know, in the male world, I think, you know, the ego is more celebrated. In fact, I was reading a book on women's spirituality that said just that - that you know, in sort of prayer experiences, men might be drawn to kind of sublimate their ego, where women actually may be invited to actually celebrate themselves more.

So this study actually makes sense, as much as we don't want to generalize about the sexes. But you know, I don't want to argue with a 95-year-old Jesuit scholar.

SIMON: Does it correlate with your own experience as a clergyman?

Father MARTIN: Yeah, in general, men do confess sexual sins much more frequently than women. One thing I was surprised on this survey - you know, it's done according to the Seven Deadly Sins. But the sin I hear a lot from women, without breaking the seal of the confessional, is gossip; that comes up quite frequently in women's confessions, whereas men are more likely to turn to the sexual sins first.

SIMON: Is gossip identified under the umbrella of envy or something?

Father MARTIN: No, I don't think so. I mean that's, that could be the eighth deadly sin.

SIMON: Father, do you mind telling us your favorite guy-goes-into-a-confessional joke?

Father MARTIN: Oh, yeah. I have a great one. A young boy who's about 12 years old walks into a confessional. And he sits down with a priest and he says, you know, Father, I am in junior high school, and I kissed a girl. And the priest, who, of course, is Irish, says, oh, that's horrible. He says, you know, you're much too young for something like that. And he says, was it Mary? And the boy says, no, it wasn't, Father. He says, was it Ann? And the boy says, no, it wasn't. He says, was it Elizabeth, then? And the boy says, No.

He says, well, you know, it's not really a sin, but you know, I really think you should straighten up and fly right. So the kid goes outside, and he sees another friend and his friend says, did you get a tough penance? And he says, No, but I got three good tips.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Well, Father James Martin, associate editor of America, thanks so much for being with us.

Father MARTIN: My pleasure.

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