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DISCIPLESHIP: MISSION TOWARDS TRANSFORMING HUMANITY

What Does The Commandment "You Shall Not Steal" Mean?

"The Lord opened the understanding of my unbelieving heart, so that I should recall my sins." - Saint Patrick

Theft is the lawful appropriation of goods belonging to another. Therefore, appropriating someone else's goods unjustly is a sin against the Seventh Commandment even if the act cannot be indicted under civil law. What is unjust in God's sight is unjust. The Seventh Commandment, of course, applies not only to stealing, but also to the unfair withholding of a just wage, the keeping of found items that one could give back, and defrauding in general.

The Seventh Commandment also pertains to the following: setting employees to work in inhumane conditions, not abiding by contracts into which one has entered, wasting profits without any consideration for social obligations, artificially driving prices up or down, endangering the jobs of colleagues for whom one is responsible, bribery and corruption, misleading dependent co-workers into illegal actions, doing shoddy work or demanding inappropriate remuneration, wasting or negligently managing public property, counterfeiting or falsifying accounting records, or tax evasion.

The Seventh Commandment not only forbids taking something away from another person, it also requires the just management and distribution of the earth's goods; it regulates the question of private property and the distribution of the proceeds from human work. The unjust distribution of raw materials is also indicted in this commandment. In the first place, the Seventh Commandment actually forbids only taking someone else's property unlawfully. However, it also addresses the human endeavour to make just social arrangements in the world and to plan for its beneficial. development. The Seventh Commandment says that we are obliged in faith to advocate the protection of the environment as part of creation and to conserve the earth's natural resources.


In What Other Ways Do We Go Against The Seventh Commandment?

If you would enter life, keep the commandments.- Jesus Christ (Mt. 19:17)


Intellectual Property: The misappropriation of intellectual property is theft also. Not just plagiarism is theft. The theft of intellectual property begins with copying other students' work in school, continues in the illegal taking of materials from the Internet, applies to the making of unauthorized copies or trafficking in pirated copies in various media, and extends to business dealings in stolen concepts and ideas. Every acquisition of someone else's intellectual property demands the free consent and appropriate remuneration of the author or inventor.

Tax Evasion: Inventiveness in dealing with complex systems of taxation is morally unobjectionable. It is immoral to evade taxes or to commit tax fraud, in other words, to falsify, fail to report; or conceal facts so as to prevent a correct assessment of taxes due. By paying taxes, citizens contribute, each according to his ability, so that the State can fulfill its duties. Therefore tax evasion is not a petty infraction. Taxes should be just and proportionate and should be levied by law.

Abuse of the Environment: We fulfill God's commission with regard to creation when we care for the earth, with its biological laws, its variety of species, its natural beauty, and its dwindling resources, as a living space and preserve it, so that future generations also can live well on earth. In the book of Genesis, God says, "Having "dominion over the earth" does not mean having an absolute right to dispose arbitrarily of animate and inanimate nature, animals and plants. Because man is created in God's image, he should care for God's creation as a shepherd and steward.

Treatment of Animals: Animals are our fellow creatures, which we should care for and in which we should delight, just as God delights in their existence. Animals, too, are sentient creatures of God. It is a sin to torture them, to allow them to suffer, or to kill them uselessly. Nevertheless, man may not place love of animals above love of man.


Why Does The Catholic Church Have Her Own Social Teaching?

Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own. - Blessed Mother Teresa


As children of God, all men and women possess a unique dignity; the Church with her social teaching is committed to defending and promoting this human dignity for all men in the social sphere. She is not trying to pre-empt the legitimate freedom of politics or of the economy. When human dignity is violated in politics or economic practices, however, the Church must intervene.

"The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the men of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well" (Second Vatican Council, GS). In her social teaching, the Church makes this statement specific. And she asks: How can we take responsibility for the well-being and the just treatment of all, even of non-Christians? What is a just organization of human society, of political, economic, and social institutions supposed to look like? In her commitment to justice, the Church is guided by a love that emulates Christ's love for mankind.

Historically, the Catholic Social Teaching was a response to the economic problems of the nineteenth century. Whereas  industrialization had led to an increase in prosperity, the ones who profited from it were primarily factory owners, while many people sank into poverty as labourers with practically no rights. The Church advocated a just balance between the interests of the labourers and those of the factory owners.

The Church recommended that not only a few but everyone should benefit from the prosperity recently made possible by industrialization and competition. She therefore supported the development of labour unions and advocated protecting labourers from exploitations through legislation and government assurances and insuring them and their families against sickness and emergencies.


What Does The Church Says About Democracy And Capitalism?

Peace is built on the foundation of justice. - Pope Leo Xlll

History teaches that even democracy offers no absolute protection from violations of human dignity and human rights. It always runs the risk of becoming a tyranny of the majority over a minority. That is why Christians in particular must make sure that the values indispensable to a democracy are not undermined.

Everyone has the right of economic initiative; everyone should make legitimate use of his talents to contribute to the abundance that wilt benefit all and to harvest the just fruits of his labour. He should seek to observe regulations issued by legitimate authority for the sake of the common good. That is why any form of capitalism that is not embedded in an established system of law runs the risk of detaching itself from the common good and becoming a mere means for individuals to make profits. The Church rejects that decisively.

On the other hand, she supports a free-market system which is at the service of man, prevents monopolies, and ensures that all are supplied with employment and vitally necessary goods. Catholic Social Teaching evaluates all societal arrangements according to whether they serve the common good, which means: to the extent that they enable "men, families, and associations more adequately and readily [to] attain their own perfection" (Vatican ll, Gaudiumetspes). This is also true of commerce, which in the first place should be at the service of man.
 

 

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