Choose a topic from Part 2B:

66. Theft and Robbery

1. External goods can be lawfully owned by aperson. Man has a natural need for such things, and for their use,and thus he has a natural right to acquire dominion over them.

2. Since man has a natural need to procure, to dispense,and to use material goods, it is lawful for him to possess suchgoods as his own. But in the use of such goods, man must be willingto give or share, according to reason and justice, to a neighbor inneed.

3. Theft is the secret and unlawful taking ofwhat belongs to another.

4. Robbery differs specifically from theft, forit is the open and forceful taking of another's goods.

5. Theft is a sin directly contrary to the divinecommandment, "Thoushalt not steal." Theft isopposed to justice directly, and also by the fact that it involvesguile or fraud.

6. Theft, in its kind or genus, is a grave sin,for it opposes commutative justice and also opposes charity whichis the spiritual life of the soul. For charity imposes the duty ofloving one's neighbor, and theft is injury to one'sneighbor. Yet the full and grave nature of theft as sin is notfound in the taking of trifling things, unless, indeed, the thiefintends serious injury by his stealing. Small thievingsare, in themselves, venial sins.

7. When a person is in extreme need of material things,and there is no way of emerging from his extremity but by takingwhat belongs to another, the surplus which anotherpossesses becomes common property, and the taker is not guilty oftheft. Thus a starving man, or one whose dependents are starving,may take, openly or secretly, the food that will save human life.This, of course, is on condition that the taker of the food has noother means of getting it, and that he does not leave the personfrom whom he takes the food in as desperate a situation as hisown.

8. Robbery involves two offenses against both justice andcharity, namely, the taking of goods unlawfully, and the inflictingof violence or coercion on the victim. Robbery is, therefore,always sinful. When public authority forcefully takes overproperty, either as lawful penalty, or for use in an emergency suchas war or public calamity, there is no robbery in the act.

9. It seems that robbery is a more grievous wrong thantheft. It takes a man's goods and adds injury or ignominy tohis person. Thus, it is more noticeably oppressive to a man thantheft with its sly guile or fraud.

"A single act of uniformity with the divine will suffices to make a saint."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"As the flesh is nourished by food, so is man supported by prayers"
St Augustine

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"Spiritual persons ought to be equally ready to experience sweetness and consolation in the things of God, or to suffer and keep their ground in drynesses of spirit and devotion, and for as long as God pleases, without their making any complaint about it."
St Philip Neri

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