Theft also consists in unjustly keeping someone else’s things from them

November 9, 2021 • 1 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 341

Section II.

Against the unjust Detention of Another’s Goods.

In connection with the evil of which we are treating let us say a few words on the sin of retaining the goods of another.

Theft consists not only in unjustly taking what belongs to another, but also in unlawfully retaining it against the owner’s will.

Our intention to restore it later will not suffice if we are able to do it at once, for we are obliged to make restitution as soon as possible.

Inability to make immediate restitution justifies us in deferring it; while continued poverty, if so great as to afford us no means, excuses us entirely, for God does not require what is impossible.

We cannot better explain this doctrine than by the words of St. Gregory: “Remember that the riches you have unlawfully acquired remain in this world, but the sins you committed in obtaining them will accompany you into the next. How great is your folly, then, to leave your profit here and to take only your loss with you—to afford others gratification in this world while you endure everlasting sufferings in the world to come!” [Epist. ad Just. II.]

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