Daily Series on the Catechism


Section Two:  The Ten Commandments

Chapter 2:  “You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself” (cont’d)

Article 7,  The Seventh Commandment

  • “You shall not steal” (Ex 20:15; Deut 5:19; Mt 19:18).

§ 2401  The Seventh Commandment forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one’s neighbor and wronging him in any way with respect to his goods. It commands justice and charity in the care of earthly goods and the fruits of men’s labor. For the sake of the common good, it requires respect for the universal destination of goods and respect for the right to private property. Christian life strives to order this world’s goods to God and to fraternal charity.

I.  The Universal Destination and the Private Ownership of Goods

§ 2402  In the beginning, God entrusted the Earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits (cf. Gen 1:26-29). The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. However, the Earth is divided up among men to assure the security of their lives, endangered by poverty and threatened by violence. The appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons and for helping each of them to meet his basic needs and the needs of those in his charge. It should allow for a natural solidarity [harmony/friendship] to develop between men.

§ 2403  The right to private property, acquired or received in a just way, does not do away with the original gift of the Earth to the whole of mankind. The universal destination of goods remains primordial [ancient], even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise.

§ 2404  “In his use of things, man should regard the external goods he legitimately owns not merely as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself” (GS 69 § 1). The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family.

§ 2405  Goods of production – material or immaterial – such as land, factories, practical or artistic skills, oblige their possessors to employ them in ways that will benefit the greatest number. Those who hold goods for use and consumption should use them with moderation, reserving the better part for guests, for the sick and the poor.

§ 2406  Political authority has the right and duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good (cf. GS 71 § 4; SRS 42; CA 40; 48).

Tomorrow – Respect for Persons and Their Goods

(Part III, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 7 – to be continued)

[Editor’s Note:  The abbreviations in today’s posting are noted below.]

  • “CA” – Pope St. John Paul II (May 1991), “Centesimus Annus [Hundredth Year Anniversary of ‘Rerum Novarum’ (Of Revolutionary Change)]”
  • “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”
  • “GS” – “Gaudium et Spes [Joy and Hope]”, Vatican Council II
  • “SRS” – Pope St. John Paul II (Dec 1987), “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis [The Care of the Social Needs]”
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