Daily Series on the Catechism

PART  III:  LIFE IN CHRIST

Section Two:  The Ten Commandments

Chapter 2:  “You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself”

Article 7,  The Seventh Commandment (cont’d)

II.  Respect for Persons and Their Goods

§ 2407  In economic matters, respect for human dignity requires the practice of the virtue of temperance, so as to moderate attachment to this world’s goods; the practice of the virtue of justice, to preserve our neighbor’s rights and render him what is his due; and the practice of solidarity, in accordance with the “golden rule” and in keeping with the generosity of the Lord, who “though he was rich, yet for your sake…became poor so that by his poverty, you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

[Editorial Note: The “golden rule” – “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12a).]

Respect for the goods of others

§ 2408  The Seventh Commandment forbids theft, that is, usurping another’s property against the reasonable will of the owner. There is no theft if consent can be presumed or if refusal is contrary to reason and the universal destination of goods. This is the case in obvious and urgent necessity when the only way to provide for immediate, essential needs (food, shelter, clothing…) is to put at one’s disposal and use the property of others (cf. GS 69 § 1).

§ 2409  Even if it does not contradict the provisions of civil law, any form of unjustly taking and keeping the property of others is against the Seventh Commandment: thus, deliberate retention of goods lent [borrowed] or of objects lost; business fraud; paying unjust wages; forcing up prices by taking advantage of the ignorance or hardship of another (cf. Deuteronomy 25:13-16. 24:14-15; James 5:4; Amos 8:4-6).

The following are also morally illicit: speculation in which one contrives to manipulate the price of goods artificially in order to gain an advantage to the detriment of others; corruption in which one influences the judgment of those who must make decisions according to law; appropriation and use for private purposes of the common goods of an enterprise; work poorly done; tax evasion; forgery of checks and invoices; excessive expenses and waste. Willfully damaging private or public property is contrary to the moral law and requires reparation.

§ 2410  Promises must be kept and contracts strictly observed to the extent that the commitments made in them are morally just. A significant part of economic and social life depends on the honoring of contracts between physical or moral persons – commercial contracts of purchase or sale, rental or labor contracts. All contracts must be agreed to and executed in good faith.

Tomorrow – Respect for the goods of others (to be continued)

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

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

  • “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”
  • “GS” – “Gaudium et Spes [Joy and Hope]”, Vatican Council II
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