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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • SECOND PART
    • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[1] Out. Para. 1/4 - SECOND PART OF THE SECOND PART (SS) (QQ[1]-189)
      • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] Out. Para. 1/2 - OF THEFT AND ROBBERY (NINE ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] Out. Para. 1/2 - OF THEFT AND ROBBERY (NINE ARTICLES)

We must now consider the sins opposed to justice, whereby a man injures
his neighbor in his belongings; namely theft and robbery.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] Out. Para. 2/2

Under this head there are nine points of inquiry:

(1) Whether it is natural to man to possess external things?

(2) Whether it is lawful for a man to possess something as his own?

(3) Whether theft is the secret taking of another's property?

(4) Whether robbery is a species of sin distinct from theft?

(5) Whether every theft is a sin?

(6) Whether theft is a mortal sin?

(7) Whether it is lawful to thieve in a case of necessity?

(8) Whether every robbery is a mortal sin?

(9) Whether robbery is a more grievous sin than theft?


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether it is natural for man to possess external things?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that it is not natural for man to possess external
things. For no man should ascribe to himself that which is God's. Now the
dominion over all creatures is proper to God, according to Ps. 23:1, "The
earth is the Lord's," etc. Therefore it is not natural for man to possess
external things.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Basil in expounding the words of the rich man (Lk.
12:18), "I will gather all things that are grown to me, and my goods,"
says [*Hom. in Luc. xii, 18]: "Tell me: which are thine? where did you
take them from and bring them into being?" Now whatever man possesses
naturally, he can fittingly call his own. Therefore man does not
naturally possess external things.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, according to Ambrose (De Trin. i [*De Fide, ad
Gratianum, i, 1]) "dominion denotes power." But man has no power over
external things, since he can work no change in their nature. Therefore
the possession of external things is not natural to man.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Ps. 8:8): "Thou hast subjected all
things under his feet."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, External things can be considered in two ways. First, as
regards their nature, and this is not subject to the power of man, but
only to the power of God Whose mere will all things obey. Secondly, as
regards their use, and in this way, man has a natural dominion over
external things, because, by his reason and will, he is able to use them
for his own profit, as they were made on his account: for the imperfect
is always for the sake of the perfect, as stated above (Q[64], A[1]). It
is by this argument that the Philosopher proves (Polit. i, 3) that the
possession of external things is natural to man. Moreover, this natural
dominion of man over other creatures, which is competent to man in
respect of his reason wherein God's image resides, is shown forth in
man's creation (Gn. 1:26) by the words: "Let us make man to our image and
likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea," etc.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: God has sovereign dominion over all things: and He,
according to His providence, directed certain things to the sustenance of
man's body. For this reason man has a natural dominion over things, as
regards the power to make use of them.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The rich man is reproved for deeming external things to
belong to him principally, as though he had not received them from
another, namely from God.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: This argument considers the dominion over external things
as regards their nature. Such a dominion belongs to God alone, as stated
above.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether it is lawful for a man to possess a thing as his own?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1
OBJ 1: It would seem unlawful for a man to possess a thing as his own.
For whatever is contrary to the natural law is unlawful. Now according to
the natural law all things are common property: and the possession of
property is contrary to this community of goods. Therefore it is unlawful
for any man to appropriate any external thing to himself.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Basil in expounding the words of the rich man quoted
above (A[1], OBJ[2]), says: "The rich who deem as their own property the
common goods they have seized upon, are like to those who by going
beforehand to the play prevent others from coming, and appropriate to
themselves what is intended for common use." Now it would be unlawful to prevent others from obtaining possession of common goods. Therefore it is
unlawful to appropriate to oneself what belongs to the community.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Ambrose says [*Serm. lxiv, de temp.], and his words are
quoted in the Decretals [*Dist. xlvii., Can. Sicut hi.]: "Let no man call
his own that which is common property": and by "common" he means external
things, as is clear from the context. Therefore it seems unlawful for a
man to appropriate an external thing to himself.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Haeres., haer. 40): "The
'Apostolici' are those who with extreme arrogance have given themselves
that name, because they do not admit into their communion persons who are
married or possess anything of their own, such as both monks and clerics
who in considerable number are to be found in the Catholic Church." Now
the reason why these people are heretics was because severing themselves
from the Church, they think that those who enjoy the use of the above
things, which they themselves lack, have no hope of salvation. Therefore
it is erroneous to maintain that it is unlawful for a man to possess
property.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[2] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, Two things are competent to man in respect of exterior
things. One is the power to procure and dispense them, and in this regard
it is lawful for man to possess property. Moreover this is necessary to
human life for three reasons. First because every man is more careful to
procure what is for himself alone than that which is common to many or to
all: since each one would shirk the labor and leave to another that which
concerns the community, as happens where there is a great number of
servants. Secondly, because human affairs are conducted in more orderly
fashion if each man is charged with taking care of some particular thing
himself, whereas there would be confusion if everyone had to look after
any one thing indeterminately. Thirdly, because a more peaceful state is
ensured to man if each one is contented with his own. Hence it is to be
observed that quarrels arise more frequently where there is no division
of the things possessed.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[2] Body Para. 2/2

The second thing that is competent to man with regard to external things
is their use. In this respect man ought to possess external things, not
as his own, but as common, so that, to wit, he is ready to communicate
them to others in their need. Hence the Apostle says (1 Tim. 6:17,18):
"Charge the rich of this world . . . to give easily, to communicate to
others," etc.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Community of goods is ascribed to the natural law, not that
the natural law dictates that all things should be possessed in common
and that nothing should be possessed as one's own: but because the
division of possessions is not according to the natural law, but rather
arose from human agreement which belongs to positive law, as stated above
(Q[57], AA[2],3). Hence the ownership of possessions is not contrary to
the natural law, but an addition thereto devised by human reason.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: A man would not act unlawfully if by going beforehand to
the play he prepared the way for others: but he acts unlawfully if by so
doing he hinders others from going. In like manner a rich man does not
act unlawfully if he anticipates someone in taking possession of
something which at first was common property, and gives others a share:
but he sins if he excludes others indiscriminately from using it. Hence
Basil says (Hom. in Luc. xii, 18): "Why are you rich while another is
poor, unless it be that you may have the merit of a good stewardship, and
he the reward of patience?"

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: When Ambrose says: "Let no man call his own that which is
common," he is speaking of ownership as regards use, wherefore he adds:
"He who spends too much is a robber."


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the essence of theft consists in taking another's thing secretly?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that it is not essential to theft to take another's
thing secretly. For that which diminishes a sin, does not, apparently,
belong to the essence of a sin. Now to sin secretly tends to diminish a
sin, just as, on the contrary, it is written as indicating an aggravating
circumstance of the sin of some (Is. 3:9): "They have proclaimed abroad
their sin as Sodom, and they have not hid it." Therefore it is not
essential to theft that it should consist in taking another's thing
secretly.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Ambrose says [*Serm. lxiv, de temp., A[2], OBJ[3], Can.
Sicut hi.]: and his words are embodied in the Decretals [*Dist. xlvii]:
"It is no less a crime to take from him that has, than to refuse to
succor the needy when you can and are well off." Therefore just as theft
consists in taking another's thing, so does it consist in keeping it
back.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, a man may take by stealth from another, even that which
is his own, for instance a thing that he has deposited with another, or
that has been taken away from him unjustly. Therefore it is not essential
to theft that it should consist in taking another's thing secretly.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Isidore says (Etym. x): "'Fur' [thief] is derived from
'furvus' and so from 'fuscus' [dark], because he takes advantage of the
night."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[3] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Three things combine together to constitute theft. The
first belongs to theft as being contrary to justice, which gives to each
one that which is his, so that it belongs to theft to take possession of
what is another's. The second thing belongs to theft as distinct from
those sins which are committed against the person, such as murder and
adultery, and in this respect it belongs to theft to be about a thing
possessed: for if a man takes what is another's not as a possession but
as a part (for instance, if he amputates a limb), or as a person
connected with him (for instance, if he carry off his daughter or his
wife), it is not strictly speaking a case of theft. The third difference
is that which completes the nature of theft, and consists in a thing
being taken secretly: and in this respect it belongs properly to theft
that it consists in "taking another's thing secretly."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Secrecy is sometimes a cause of sin, as when a man employs
secrecy in order to commit a sin, for instance in fraud and guile. In
this way it does not diminish sin, but constitutes a species of sin: and
thus it is in theft. In another way secrecy is merely a circumstance of
sin, and thus it diminishes sin, both because it is a sign of shame, and
because it removes scandal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: To keep back what is due to another, inflicts the same kind
of injury as taking a thing unjustly: wherefore an unjust detention is
included in an unjust taking.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Nothing prevents that which belongs to one person simply,
from belonging to another in some respect: thus a deposit belongs simply
to the depositor, but with regard to its custody it is the depositary's,
and the thing stolen is the thief's, not simply, but as regards its
custody.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether theft and robbery are sins of different species?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that theft and robbery are not sins of different
species. For theft and robbery differ as "secret" and "manifest": because
theft is taking something secretly, while robbery is to take something
violently and openly. Now in the other kinds of sins, the secret and the
manifest do not differ specifically. Therefore theft and robbery are not
different species of sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, moral actions take their species from the end, as stated
above (FS, Q[1], A[3]; Q[18], A[6]). Now theft and robbery are directed
to the same end, viz. the possession of another's property. Therefore
they do not differ specifically.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, just as a thing is taken by force for the sake of
possession, so is a woman taken by force for pleasure: wherefore Isidore
says (Etym. x) that "he who commits a rape is called a corrupter, and the
victim of the rape is said to be corrupted." Now it is a case of rape
whether the woman be carried off publicly or secretly. Therefore the
thing appropriated is said to be taken by force, whether it be done
secretly or publicly. Therefore theft and robbery do not differ.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The Philosopher (Ethic. v, 2) distinguishes theft from
robbery, and states that theft is done in secret, but that robbery is
done openly.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Theft and robbery are vices contrary to justice, in as
much as one man does another an injustice. Now "no man suffers an
injustice willingly," as stated in Ethic. v, 9. Wherefore theft and
robbery derive their sinful nature, through the taking being involuntary
on the part of the person from whom something is taken. Now the
involuntary is twofold, namely, through violence and through ignorance,
as stated in Ethic. iii, 1. Therefore the sinful aspect of robbery
differs from that of theft: and consequently they differ specifically.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: In the other kinds of sin the sinful nature is not derived
from something involuntary, as in the sins opposed to justice: and so
where there is a different kind of involuntary, there is a different
species of sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The remote end of robbery and theft is the same. But this
is not enough for identity of species, because there is a difference of
proximate ends, since the robber wishes to take a thing by his own power,
but the thief, by cunning.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The robbery of a woman cannot be secret on the part of the
woman who is taken: wherefore even if it be secret as regards the others
from whom she is taken, the nature of robbery remains on the part of the
woman to whom violence is done.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[5] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether theft is always a sin?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[5] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that theft is not always a sin. For no sin is
commanded by God, since it is written (Ecclus. 15:21): "He hath commanded
no man to do wickedly." Yet we find that God commanded theft, for it is
written (Ex. 12:35,36): "And the children of Israel did as the Lord had
commanded Moses [Vulg.: 'as Moses had commanded']. . . and they stripped
the Egyptians." Therefore theft is not always a sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[5] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, if a man finds a thing that is not his and takes it, he
seems to commit a theft, for he takes another's property. Yet this seems
lawful according to natural equity, as the jurists hold. [*See loc. cit.
in Reply.] Therefore it seems that theft is not always a sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[5] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, he that takes what is his own does not seem to sin,
because he does not act against justice, since he does not destroy its
equality. Yet a man commits a theft even if he secretly take his own
property that is detained by or in the safe-keeping of another. Therefore
it seems that theft is not always a sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[5] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Ex. 20:15): "Thou shalt not steal."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[5] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, If anyone consider what is meant by theft, he will find
that it is sinful on two counts. First, because of its opposition to
justice, which gives to each one what is his, so that for this reason
theft is contrary to justice, through being a taking of what belongs to
another. Secondly, because of the guile or fraud committed by the thief,
by laying hands on another's property secretly and cunningly. Wherefore
it is evident that every theft is a sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[5] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: It is no theft for a man to take another's property either
secretly or openly by order of a judge who has commanded him to do so,
because it becomes his due by the very fact that it is adjudicated to him
by the sentence of the court. Hence still less was it a theft for the
Israelites to take away the spoils of the Egyptians at the command of the
Lord, Who ordered this to be done on account of the ill-treatment
accorded to them by the Egyptians without any cause: wherefore it is
written significantly (Wis. 10:19): "The just took the spoils of the
wicked."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[5] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: With regard to treasure-trove a distinction must be made.
For some there are that were never in anyone's possession, for instance
precious stones and jewels, found on the seashore, and such the finder is
allowed to keep [*Dig. I, viii, De divis. rerum: Inst. II, i, De rerum
divis.]. The same applies to treasure hidden underground long since and
belonging to no man, except that according to civil law the finder is
bound to give half to the owner of the land, if the treasure trove be in
the land of another person [*Inst. II, i, 39: Cod. X, xv, De Thesauris].
Hence in the parable of the Gospel (Mt. 13:44) it is said of the finder
of the treasure hidden in a field that he bought the field, as though he
purposed thus to acquire the right of possessing the whole treasure. On
the other Land the treasure-trove may be nearly in someone's possession:
and then if anyone take it with the intention, not of keeping it but of
returning it to the owner who does not look upon such things as
unappropriated, he is not guilty of theft. In like manner if the thing
found appears to be unappropriated, and if the finder believes it to be
so, although he keep it, he does not commit a theft [*Inst. II, i, 47].
In any other case the sin of theft is committed [*Dig. XLI, i, De
acquirend, rerum dominio, 9: Inst. II, i, 48]: wherefore Augustine says
in a homily (Serm. clxxviii; De Verb. Apost.): "If thou hast found a
thing and not returned it, thou hast stolen it" (Dig. xiv, 5, can. Si
quid invenisti).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[5] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: He who by stealth takes his own property which is deposited
with another man burdens the depositary, who is bound either to
restitution, or to prove himself innocent. Hence he is clearly guilty of
sin, and is bound to ease the depositary of his burden. On the other hand
he who, by stealth, takes his own property, if this be unjustly detained
by another, he sins indeed; yet not because he burdens the retainer, and
so he is not bound to restitution or compensation: but he sins against
general justice by disregarding the order of justice and usurping
judgment concerning his own property. Hence he must make satisfaction to
God and endeavor to allay whatever scandal he may have given his neighbor
by acting this way.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[6] Out. Para. 1/1

Whether theft is a mortal sin?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[6] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that theft is not a mortal sin. For it is written
(Prov. 6:30): "The fault is not so great when a man hath stolen." But
every mortal sin is a great fault. Therefore theft is not a mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[6] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, mortal sin deserves to be punished with death. But in
the Law theft is punished not by death but by indemnity, according to Ex.
22:1, "If any man steal an ox or a sheep . . . he shall restore have oxen
for one ox, and four sheep for one sheep." Therefore theft is not a
mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[6] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, theft can be committed in small even as in great things.
But it seems unreasonable for a man to be punished with eternal death for
the theft of a small thing such as a needle or a quill. Therefore theft
is not a mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[6] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, No man is condemned by the Divine judgment save for a
mortal sin. Yet a man is condemned for theft, according to Zach. 5:3,
"This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the earth; for every
thief shall be judged as is there written." Therefore theft is a mortal
sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[6] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As stated above (Q[59], A[4]; FS, Q[72], A[5]), a mortal
sin is one that is contrary to charity as the spiritual life of the soul.
Now charity consists principally in the love of God, and secondarily in
the love of our neighbor, which is shown in our wishing and doing him
well. But theft is a means of doing harm to our neighbor in his
belongings; and if men were to rob one another habitually, human society
would be undone. Therefore theft, as being opposed to charity, is a
mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[6] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The statement that theft is not a great fault is in view of
two cases. First, when a person is led to thieve through necessity. This
necessity diminishes or entirely removes sin, as we shall show further on
(A[7]). Hence the text continues: "For he stealeth to fill his hungry
soul." Secondly, theft is stated not to be a great fault in comparison
with the guilt of adultery, which is punished with death. Hence the text
goes on to say of the thief that "if he be taken, he shall restore
sevenfold . . . but he that is an adulterer . . . shall destroy his own
soul."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[6] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The punishments of this life are medicinal rather than
retributive. For retribution is reserved to the Divine judgment which is
pronounced against sinners "according to truth" (Rm. 2:2). Wherefore,
according to the judgment of the present life the death punishment is
inflicted, not for every mortal sin, but only for such as inflict an
irreparable harm, or again for such as contain some horrible deformity.
Hence according to the present judgment the pain of death is not
inflicted for theft which does not inflict an irreparable harm, except
when it is aggravated by some grave circumstance, as in the case of
sacrilege which is the theft of a sacred thing, of peculation, which is
theft of common property, as Augustine states (Tract. 1, Super Joan.),
and of kidnaping which is stealing a man, for which the pain of death is
inflicted (Ex. 21:16).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[6] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Reason accounts as nothing that which is little: so that a
man does not consider himself injured in very little matters: and the
person who takes such things can presume that this is not against the
will of the owner. And if a person take such like very little things, he
may be proportionately excused from mortal sin. Yet if his intention is
to rob and injure his neighbor, there may be a mortal sin even in these
very little things, even as there may be through consent in a mere
thought.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[7] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether it is lawful to steal through stress of need?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[7] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem unlawful to steal through stress of need. For
penance is not imposed except on one who has sinned. Now it is stated
(Extra, De furtis, Cap. Si quis): "If anyone, through stress of hunger or
nakedness, steal food, clothing or beast, he shall do penance for three
weeks." Therefore it is not lawful to steal through stress of need.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[7] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. ii, 6) that "there are some
actions whose very name implies wickedness," and among these he reckons
theft. Now that which is wicked in itself may not be done for a good end.
Therefore a man cannot lawfully steal in order to remedy a need.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[7] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, a man should love his neighbor as himself. Now,
according to Augustine (Contra Mendac. vii), it is unlawful to steal in
order to succor one's neighbor by giving him an alms. Therefore neither
is it lawful to steal in order to remedy one's own needs.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[7] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, In cases of need all things are common property, so
that there would seem to be no sin in taking another's property, for need
has made it common.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[7] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, Things which are of human right cannot derogate from
natural right or Divine right. Now according to the natural order
established by Divine Providence, inferior things are ordained for the
purpose of succoring man's needs by their means. Wherefore the division
and appropriation of things which are based on human law, do not preclude
the fact that man's needs have to be remedied by means of these very
things. Hence whatever certain people have in superabundance is due, by
natural law, to the purpose of succoring the poor. For this reason
Ambrose [*Loc. cit., A[2], OBJ[3]] says, and his words are embodied in
the Decretals (Dist. xlvii, can. Sicut ii): "It is the hungry man's bread
that you withhold, the naked man's cloak that you store away, the money
that you bury in the earth is the price of the poor man's ransom and
freedom."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[7] Body Para. 2/2

Since, however, there are many who are in need, while it is impossible
for all to be succored by means of the same thing, each one is entrusted
with the stewardship of his own things, so that out of them he may come
to the aid of those who are in need. Nevertheless, if the need be so
manifest and urgent, that it is evident that the present need must be
remedied by whatever means be at hand (for instance when a person is in some imminent danger, and there is no other possible remedy), then it is
lawful for a man to succor his own need by means of another's property,
by taking it either openly or secretly: nor is this properly speaking
theft or robbery.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[7] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: This decretal considers cases where there is no urgent need.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[7] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: It is not theft, properly speaking, to take secretly and
use another's property in a case of extreme need: because that which he
takes for the support of his life becomes his own property by reason of
that need.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[7] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: In a case of a like need a man may also take secretly
another's property in order to succor his neighbor in need.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[8] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether robbery may be committed without sin?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[8] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that robbery may be committed without sin. For
spoils are taken by violence, and this seems to belong to the essence of
robbery, according to what has been said (A[4]). Now it is lawful to take
spoils from the enemy; for Ambrose says (De Patriarch. 4 [*De Abraham i,
3]): "When the conqueror has taken possession of the spoils, military
discipline demands that all should be reserved for the sovereign," in
order, to wit, that he may distribute them. Therefore in certain cases
robbery is lawful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[8] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, it is lawful to take from a man what is not his. Now the
things which unbelievers have are not theirs, for Augustine says (Ep. ad
Vincent. Donat. xciii.): "You falsely call things your own, for you do
not possess them justly, and according to the laws of earthly kings you
are commanded to forfeit them." Therefore it seems that one may lawfully
rob unbelievers.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[8] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, earthly princes violently extort many things from their
subjects: and this seems to savor of robbery. Now it would seem a
grievous matter to say that they sin in acting thus, for in that case
nearly every prince would be damned. Therefore in some cases robbery is
lawful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[8] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Whatever is taken lawfully may be offered to God in
sacrifice and oblation. Now this cannot be done with the proceeds of
robbery, according to Is. 61:8, "I am the Lord that love judgment, and
hate robbery in a holocaust." Therefore it is not lawful to take anything
by robbery.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[8] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Robbery implies a certain violence and coercion employed
in taking unjustly from a man that which is his. Now in human society no
man can exercise coercion except through public authority: and,
consequently, if a private individual not having public authority takes
another's property by violence, he acts unlawfully and commits a robbery,
as burglars do. As regards princes, the public power is entrusted to them
that they may be the guardians of justice: hence it is unlawful for them
to use violence or coercion, save within the bounds of justice - either
by fighting against the enemy, or against the citizens, by punishing
evil-doers: and whatever is taken by violence of this kind is not the
spoils of robbery, since it is not contrary to justice. On the other hand
to take other people's property violently and against justice, in the
exercise of public authority, is to act unlawfully and to be guilty of
robbery; and whoever does so is bound to restitution.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[8] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: A distinction must be made in the matter of spoils. For if
they who take spoils from the enemy, are waging a just war, such things
as they seize in the war become their own property. This is no robbery,
so that they are not bound to restitution. Nevertheless even they who are
engaged in a just war may sin in taking spoils through cupidity arising
from an evil intention, if, to wit, they fight chiefly not for justice
but for spoil. For Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. xix; Serm. lxxxii) that
"it is a sin to fight for booty." If, however, those who take the spoil,
are waging an unjust war, they are guilty of robbery, and are bound to
restitution.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[8] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Unbelievers possess their goods unjustly in so far as they
are ordered by the laws of earthly princes to forfeit those goods. Hence
these may be taken violently from them, not by private but by public
authority.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[8] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: It is no robbery if princes exact from their subjects that
which is due to them for the safe-guarding of the common good, even if
they use violence in so doing: but if they extort something unduly by
means of violence, it is robbery even as burglary is. Hence Augustine
says (De Civ. Dei iv, 4): "If justice be disregarded, what is a king but
a mighty robber? since what is a robber but a little king?" And it is
written (Ezech. 22:27): "Her princes in the midst of her, are like wolves
ravening the prey." Wherefore they are bound to restitution, just as
robbers are, and by so much do they sin more grievously than robbers, as
their actions are fraught with greater and more universal danger to
public justice whose wardens they are.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[9] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether theft is a more grievous sin than robbery?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[9] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that theft is a more grievous sin than robbery. For
theft adds fraud and guile to the taking of another's property: and these
things are not found in robbery. Now fraud and guile are sinful in
themselves, as stated above (Q[55], AA[4],5). Therefore theft is a more
grievous sin than robbery.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[9] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, shame is fear about a wicked deed, as stated in Ethic.
iv, 9. Now men are more ashamed of theft than of robbery. Therefore theft
is more wicked than robbery.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[9] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the more persons a sin injures the more grievous it
would seem to be. Now the great and the lowly may be injured by theft:
whereas only the weak can be injured by robbery, since it is possible to
use violence towards them. Therefore the sin of theft seems to be more
grievous than the sin of robbery.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[9] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, According to the laws robbery is more severely punished
than theft.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[9] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Robbery and theft are sinful, as stated above (AA[4],6),
on account of the involuntariness on the part of the person from whom
something is taken: yet so that in theft the involuntariness is due to
ignorance, whereas in robbery it is due to violence. Now a thing is more
involuntary through violence than through ignorance, because violence is
more directly opposed to the will than ignorance. Therefore robbery is a
more grievous sin than theft. There is also another reason, since robbery
not only inflicts a loss on a person in his things, but also conduces to
the ignominy and injury of his person, and this is of graver import than
fraud or guile which belong to theft. Hence the Reply to the First
Objection is evident.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[9] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Men who adhere to sensible things think more of external
strength which is evidenced in robbery, than of internal virtue which is
forfeit through sin: wherefore they are less ashamed of robbery than of
theft.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[66] A[9] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Although more persons may be injured by theft than by
robbery, yet more grievous injuries may be inflicted by robbery than by
theft: for which reason also robbery is more odious.





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