Is accepting stolen goods always a mortal sin? Or is it dependant on the value of the stolen item? If it is always a mortal sin, then wouldn’t accepting a small amount money (say, less than $10) known to be stolen be as bad as accepting $1000 known to he stolen?
My examination of conscience, while very good in most places, lists accepting stolen goods as a mortal sin.
I don’t see why accepting stolen goods is automatically a sin, even if it is done knowingly. For example, you might accept the stolen goods so that you could return them to their rightful owner. That would not be a sin. Here is how it could be a sin: if you accept stolen goods under conditions that normally result in your doing something in return for the goods, then that could encourage the thief in stealing. That would be a sin because you would be a partner in crime. But if your friend comes to you and says “Please take this off my hands. I stole it and I feel terrible about it.”, then why not take it and help your friend make reparation?
I was at the movies today and two people I knew bought child tickets to ‘save’ money when I told them it was wrong to do so and that they were older than the limit. I’m pretty sure the person issuing tickets heard me, but she didn’t do anything if she did. So, those two people effectively stole about 3 or 4 or 5 dollars each.
Then, we went to buy food. I went a little over what I had, so I asked those two people I was with for some extra money. They gave me some. Then they bought their own food. As I was asking them for money, I knew I was basically accepting a stolen good. I handled this situation wrongly, I admit. But did I commit a mortal sin?
At the time, I knew accepting stolen goods was wrong. I thought it was venial, but my examination of conscience pdf said it was mortal (and I thought it got that idea wrong), so I don’t know where I stand on full knowledge… Is it even mortal? The first poster thinks so, and so does my examination of conscience pdf… So I’m confused.
The OP’s post is clearly about accepting stolen goods and keeping them. The thread is not about accepting them in order to return them. Anyone who accepts and keeps stolen goods is committing a grave sin as well as the person who did the stealing.
A person knowingly accepting stolen goods cannot keep them.
CCC 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.” 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.
Sometimes the police have to dispose of stolen goods that cannot be returned because they don’t know who they were stolen from. Are those goods forever off-limits for any moral use? What if the police hold a property sale to dispose of the goods and my neighbor buys something there and makes it a gift to me? It would not be a sin to accept those stolen goods, would it? I think the line of responsibility has to be a little more direct than that.
Just my opinion, but I don’t see how that’s accepting a stolen good. The stolen good in question here is the movie ticket (or the portion of it), not the money saved from it. Therefore, I don’t think you are in any way accepting a stolen good by asking them for money.
Also, I’m pretty sure stealing or possessing a stolen good is not necessarily a mortal sin - it depends on the value of the good in question. I’d recommend consulting your local parish priest for a good guideline.
Since they basically stole their tickets, weren’t they stealing money that should rightfully be the theater’s? Or does the stealing just apply to the tickets?
Also, those two people would still have had extra money if they paid the full price. When I asked for extra money, would I have been accepting stolen money in the first place? Wouldn’t they basically giving me money they didn’t steal (money they would’ve had if they paid full price) and they bought their food with stolen money?
The police try to return any stolen property to its rightful owner. Its only auctioned if the owners cannot be found. Totally different scenario from the one I am talking about and you know that but are trying to digress. Let’s make it simple for you to understand.
Example: You have a friend. You know he has broken into a house and stolen money and other items. You were not a party to the actual theft. He gives you some of the money or other items that you know have been stolen. If you accept them and keep them you have committed a grave sin.
Just as in the act of theft itself…the acceptance of what is stolen too admits of parvity (smallness) of matter.
If a friend steals an ink pen from say some grocery store when he was writing a check and later gives it to me to use…such is not going to be grave matter. (not that we should treat venial matter as not important…for we should seek to avoid such deliberate sins …but it is not simply a grave matter cause it is accepting a stolen item.
Well, look at it this way. The money the people saved by buying cheaper tickets belonged rightly to the theater. By using that money to buy wildly overpriced food and drink, you returned it to the theater.
Yes. But in the OP’s dilemma, money was not stolen. Movie tickets were acquired at less than the proper price. It was a sin for those the cheated the theater, but that does not suddenly make the spare change in their pockets turn into stolen goods. If it did then anything the cheater gave to anyone for the rest of his life might be considered “the money he saved by stealing”, which is nonsense.
If there was any fault of the OP, it was not in accepting money for snacks. It was in consenting to join in the mutual activity of enjoying the movie along with the cheats. This has nothing to do with accepting stolen goods. This is really about going along with cheating.
As for digressing, I was merely responding to your generalization in post #2. I would also point out that the specificity of the OP’s dilemma was not revealed until post #5. And it is quite common in CAF for a specific question to generate discussion that generalizes the original question.
can you think of an instance where if money was stolen in an amount and in circumstances to make it a mortal sin, it would not also be a mortal sin to knowingly accept that money? It is certainly a crime in civil law. Can you give an example where it would not be sinful? and no, accepting it to make restitution to the owner is not an example because OP did not mention that contingency. The question implies accepting the money for your own use.
then it would be venial sin
what if you only took $10 from the results of a million dollar bank heist in which a guard was killed? would you still call it a venial sin? If the circumstances surrounding the original theft made it a mortal sin, to accept any of it for your own use would also be a mortal sin (and very often as I say a crime).
Who said anything about movie tickets? But the same thing applies to any stolen property. In the story about the people getting into the movie for half price, unless the person accepted one of those tickets he did not steal simply by accepting money from them. If he did accept a $2 off ticket it would indeed be a venial sin. OP seems to want to change the story every time, so I will stick with my answer to the original question.