Shoplifting priests

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So a priest says to his congregation that, in Christian ethics, it’s preferable to steal than to starve, and there’s outrage from Christian commentators. I too am outraged: did this commentators sleep through their Church history courses? Because you know what, that priest is correct and this is a pretty settled case in Christian ethics.

The original concept came from pikuach nefesh (saving life) in Jewish jurisprudence, but the issue whether stealing was allowed to preserve life is debated amongst the rabbis - some thought it obviously is, others thought it dependened on circumstances. However, within Christian ethics, the Catechism of the Catholic Church picks up the case and makes the point quite explicitly:

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.

Even if our dear former Archbishop slept through that particular lecture, the idea was played with in Les Misérables, although he can be excused for sleeping through that.