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Year of Faith Series 11

Posted on : 02-10-2013 | By : TAG | In : Faith Series


(Ref. CCC Part 3, Section 2, Chapter 2, Articles 7 & 10)


The Seventh Commandment: YOU SHALL NOT STEAL.


By these two commandments God ordains respect for the goods of others. The seventh commandment regulates our external acts in relation to the goods of others and the tenth regulates our interior acts in their regard.

Violations of the seventh commandment will be grave or venial according to the amount stolen or the harm caused by the action. In the event of grave sins, there is an obligation to return the goods or their equivalent value. These sins cannot be forgiven without at least the intention of making restitution in so far as it is possible to do so.

Wealth and Poverty

Like the others, the 7th and 10th commandments have a positive purpose. What is required is the detachment from material possessions. We have come into this world without them and we shall leave without them. Material possessions are not the goal of this life but only the means by which we take care of our own temporal needs and those of others. What we should really be more concerned is the state of our soul because it is the one which will last forever; let us not forget the resurrection of the body on the last day amidst the new heaven and the new earth.

The virtue of poverty is precisely detachment from material things. Holy Scripture tells us “if wealth abound, set not your heart upon it”. It is not the possession of material goods that is forbidden but the attachment to them, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be.

This virtue is interior and consists in poverty of spirit whether or not we have material possessions. Thus it is possible for wealthy people to be poor if they view themselves as administrators of their goods and make proper use of them. Likewise, it is possible for impoverished people to be rich if they have a disorderly desire for possessions.

When we realize that the goal of life transcends this world, we easily appreciate the fact that the possession or lack of wealth is a circumstance of relative importance. Those who possess wealth should use it to accomplish as much good as possible. They will have to render an account to God for the way they have used their wealth (St.James 5:1-6). Those who lack wealth should realize that they do not need it to be able to please God and that the lack of it should make it easier for them to be detached.

The Social Meaning of Private Property

The right to private ownership is only a relative right and is directed toward the common good of society; it may be limited by public authority in a reasonable way when sufficient motives exist. Excessive accumulation of wealth with consequent power over other people which could endanger their freedom and the stability of society may rightly motivate social legislation to regulate such wealth.

Private ownership is not the sole form of possession. In view of man’s social nature it is fitting that some possessions be held as common property which is administered by the public authority (e.g. public parks and roads).


The virtue of justice inclines a person to give each man his due, not just in material possessions. Each person has a God given right to life, to nourishment, to a dwelling place, to freedom, to education, to honor and respect and to other basic material and spiritual goods.

Justice requires respect for these rights and for the lawfully acquired rights of each individual within the family, at work and in public life. Justice tends primarily toward the fulfillment of the individual’s duties towards others, be they matrimonial, parental, filial, professional, contractual or social.

Social justice encompasses those duties of justice which are directed toward society. The payment of taxes and respect for public property fall into this category. The passage of just legislation, its enforcement and judicial application also fall under this category.

It would be a mistake to limit justice to the realm of economic goods. Justice is much broader than social justice and social justice itself is much broader than economic justice. What a poor idea of justice there is if we reduce it to mere redistribution of material goods. This implies the notion that the worst evil is a lack of material possessions.

The Christian must be concerned and should contribute to the extent of his possibilities to a more just social order by his advocacy of better laws which will protect those in need and lessen the scope of injustices. Evidently man’s efforts to achieve a better social order are subject to moral law. In this area, too, the end does not justify evil means. The means used must foster good will and friendship among members of society with a spirit of mutual cooperation. Strive sincerely to be Catholics not in words or with tongue but with works and in truth.

The Church and Social Justice

The Church, which carries on the mission of Christ, has not been established to promote social justice in this world although faithfulness to the Church’s moral teaching most certainly provides a strong support for social justice. The Church teaches that we must go further than justice demands because charity has to be the basic motivation of or conduct. The dignity of man, who is a son of God, requires much more. Our motive in everything we do should be the love of God.

God gave man a social nature, such that man achieves his perfection in society together with other men. The proper goal of the State is the promotion of the common spiritual and material good of society. It can and should establish laws which govern the behavior of individuals within the society. They must never be opposed to natural moral law. If that were to happen, even though approved by most citizens, they would not be truly laws. The majority opinion is not a valid basis for the judgment of good and evil, just as the majority opinion does not determine the truth or falsity of a matter. Truth and goodness are objective and do not depend on human whim.

In our own times, it is not uncommon for countries to pass laws contrary to natural law. In this regard, it is important to distinguish between what is permitted by civil law (what is legal) and what is morally good (what is right). An action contrary to natural moral law such as abortion is never licit, even if it is permitted by civil law.

(Ref. CCC Part 3, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 8)


The ability of man to communicate his thoughts and intentions through words is a characteristic property of his rational nature. Because words by their nature express what is in a person’s mind, man has a natural duty to speak truthfully. Man tends by nature toward the truth. Indirectly a man’s words express the way things are. There are two impediments in the way of a truthful expression of reality. The first is the difficulty that we sometimes face in knowing how things are; the second lies in the temptation to speak contrary to our thought in order to avoid some real or imagined harm. The eighth commandment commands us to reject this latter impediment.

The obligation to speak truthfully is also a duty of justice since we must respect the right of others to know the truth. It is also a pre-requisite to the well being of society, since men could not live in peace and harmony if they could not trust one another.

The truthfulness required by the 8th commandment is conformity of our words and mind. The lack of such conformity is a lie. When the lack of conformity extends even to deeds it is called simulation and when it becomes habitual it is called hypocrisy.



Love for Truth and Information

We should acquire the prudence and maturity to avoid hasty judgments about people and events on the basis of superficial information. Such prudence requires a critical attitude toward information received from newspapers, television and second or third reports, since the sources may have an ax to grind or may be biased in their view or incomplete in reporting their facts.

Love for truth should lead us to defend truth when attacked. This should be done not only in case of those truths that are naturally knowable to anyone but also in the case of the more important supernatural truths which can only be known with the aid of God’s grace. Our convictions should be manifested firmly but peacefully, offering an explanation for what we hold.

The Christian should at all times defend the truth in a charitable manner. If criticism of another is required, it should be directed at the mistaken assertions and not at the person or at his intentions. It should be dispassionate and moderate and should have a positive direction.

Love for truth should also lead us toward the humility of correcting our opinions as soon as we realize that we have been mistaken. It should also make us ready to re-assess our judgments as soon as new facts come to light which may have a bearing on them.

October 02, 2013, feast of the Guardian Angels

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