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Chapter 31. Seventh Commandment: Do Not Steal—Act Justly • 419


The seventh Commandment forbids theft. Theft is the

usurpation of another’s goods against the reasonable

will of the owner. . . . Every manner of taking and using

another’s property unjustly is contrary to the seventh

commandment. The injustice committed requires repa-

ration. Commutative justice requires the restitution of

stolen goods.

—CCC, nos. 2453-2454

The Seventh Commandment forbids stealing or theft, which involves

taking someone’s money or property “against the reasonable will of the

owner.” Theft includes not only robbery but also actions such as embez-

zlement, computer theft, counterfeit money, fraud, identity theft, copy-

right violations (including pirating things such as music or computer

software), and mail scams.

To keep this Commandment, we need to acquire the virtues of mod-

eration in our possessions, justice in our treatment of others, respect for

their human dignity, and solidarity with all peoples. Moderation curbs

our attachment to worldly goods and restrains our appetite for consum-

erism. Justice helps us respect our neighbor’s rights and be interested in

their human well-being. Solidarity opens our hearts to identifying with

the whole human family, reminding us of our common humanity.

We should not steal from each other, pay unfair salaries, cheat

in business, or exploit people’s weaknesses to make money. Promises

should be kept and contracts honored to the extent that the issues are

morally just (cf. CCC, no. 2410). We need to safeguard property rights,

pay our debts, and fulfill obligations freely incurred. The government

has the right and duty to safeguard legitimate ownership of money and

property and to protect people from robbery and injury.