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Mortal or Venial Sin
Question from Anon on 10/6/2013:

Dr.,

If an employee of a large orchard gave another employee a bushel of apples that was not his to give, would the employee who took the apples knowing this be guilty of mortal sin or venial sin?

Thanks,

Answer by Richard Geraghty on 11/2/2013:

Dear Anon,

To commit a mortal sin the matter must be serious. Now a bushel of apples does not amount to a great deal of money. So stealing then would be a venial sin. And even here there might be no sin at all but rather an act of Charity. St. Thomas quite sensibly maintains that the human being's need for food trumps the right of private property. The idea behind the right to private property is to insure that owners have the resources to take care of themselves and their families. Sometimes it happens that a few owners own most of the private property and many others are left with a little. They cannot support themselves and their families. In this desperate situation stealing a bushel of apples from a great orchard would not be a sin. The right to private property is not an absolute. That human beings be able to feed themselves is. This is not socialism. It is common sense.

Dr. Geraghty

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