“In his use of things man should regard the external goods
he legitimately owns not merely as exclusive to himself but com
mon to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well
The ownership of any property makes its holder a
steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and
communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family.
Goods of production—material or immaterial—such as land, fac
tories, practical or artistic skills, oblige their possessors to employ them in
ways that will benefit the greatest number. Those who hold goods for use
and consumption should use them with moderation, reserving the better
part for guests, for the sick and the poor.
has the right and duty to regulate the
legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the
In economic matters, respect for human dignity requires
the practice of the virtue of
so as to moderate attach
ment to this world’s goods; the practice of the virtue of
preserve our neighbor’s rights and render himwhat is his due; and
the practice of
in accordance with the golden rule and in
keeping with the generosity of the Lord, who “though he was rich,
yet for your sake . . . became poor so that by his poverty, you might
Respect for the goods of others
The seventh commandment forbids
that is, usurping
another’s property against the reasonable will of the owner. There
is no theft if consent can be presumed or if refusal is contrary to
reason and the universal destination of goods. This is the case in
obvious and urgent necessity when the only way to provide for
immediate, essential needs (food, shelter, clothing . . .) is to put at
one’s disposal and use the property of others.
69 § 1.
71 § 4;
69 § 1.