THE OBLIGATION OF REPARATION AND OF RESTITUTION OF STOLEN GOODS:
THE NEED TO RETURN WHAT WAS STOLEN IN ORDER TO BE FORGIVEN.
Dear brethren in Christ, God’s mercy is infinite and any sin could be forgiven in the Sacrament of Confession as long as we are repentant. However, God’s forgiveness cannot be separated from our duty to correct the wrong we have done. Besides, reparation and restitution are signs of true contrition and the presence of purpose of amendment, which are necessary elements of the sacrament of Confession.
In the case of offenses against the virtue of justice, one has the obligation to repair the injustice done and return the stolen goods to the owner. This obligation of reparation also applies to the offenses committed against the honor, fame or integrity of a person, as in the case of lies, calumny, false witness, defamation, etc.
Below you have some quotes of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compedium regarding the matter. A great day ahead and God bless! Fr. Rolly Arjonillo
- Catechism 2450: “You shall not steal” (Ex 20:15; Deut 5:19). “Neither thieves, nor the greedy…, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:10).
- Catechism 2412: In virtue of commutative justice, reparation for injustice committed requires the restitution of stolen goods to their owner:
Jesus blesses Zacchaeus for his pledge: “If I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”192 Those who, directly or indirectly, have taken possession of the goods of another, are obliged to make restitution of them, or to return the equivalent in kind or in money, if the goods have disappeared, as well as the profit or advantages their owner would have legitimately obtained from them. Likewise, all who in some manner have taken part in a theft or who have knowingly benefited from it – for example, those who ordered it, assisted in it, or received the stolen goods – are obliged to make restitution in proportion to their responsibility and to their share of what was stolen.
- Catechism 2454: Every manner of taking and using another’s property unjustly is contrary to the seventh commandment. The injustice committed requires reparation. Commutative justice requires the restitution of stolen goods.
- Compendium 506. What does the seventh commandment require?
The seventh commandment requires respect for the goods of others through the practice of justice and charity, temperance and solidarity. In particular, it requires respect for promises made and contracts agreed to, reparation for injustice committed and restitution of stolen goods, and respect for the integrity of creation by the prudent and moderate use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe with special attention to those species which are in danger of extinction.