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Life in Christ

579

2409

Even if it does not contradict the provisions of civil law,

any form of unjustly taking and keeping the property of others is

against the seventh commandment: thus, deliberate retention of

goods lent or of objects lost; business fraud; paying unjust wages;

forcing up prices by taking advantage of the ignorance or hardship

of another.

192

The following are also morally illicit: speculation in which one

contrives to manipulate the price of goods artificially in order to gain an

advantage to the detriment of others; corruption in which one influences

the judgment of those who must make decisions according to law; appro­

priation and use for private purposes of the common goods of an enter­

prise; work poorly done; tax evasion; forgery of checks and invoices;

excessive expenses and waste. Willfully damaging private or public prop­

erty is contrary to the moral law and requires reparation.

2410

Promises

must be kept and

contracts

strictly observed to the

extent that the commitments made in them are morally just. A

significant part of economic and social life depends on the honoring

of contracts between physical or moral persons—commercial con­

tracts of purchase or sale, rental or labor contracts. All contracts

must be agreed to and executed in good faith.

2411

Contracts are subject to

commutative justice

which regulates

exchanges between persons and between institutions in accor­

dance with a strict respect for their rights. Commutative justice

obliges strictly; it requires safeguarding property rights, paying

debts, and fulfilling obligations freely contracted. Without commu­

tative justice, no other form of justice is possible.

One distinguishes

commutative

justice from

legal

justice which

concerns what the citizen owes in fairness to the community, and from

distributive

justice which regulates what the community owes its citizens

in proportion to their contributions and needs.

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.”

193

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.

192 Cf.

Deut

25:13-16. 24:14-15;

Jas

5:4;

Am

8:4-6.

193

Lk

19:8.

1867

2101

1807

1459

2487