Is it wrong to enter an amusment park without paying the admission fee?


Is it ethical to enter an amusement park by a backwoods trail without paying the admission fee? Shouldn’t the park block the path? If they don’t doesn’t that give you permission to come in this way. How about if you only do it once or twice?


To knowingly (and/or stealthily) enter an amusement park without paying the admission fee is a form of theft. To take another’s goods unjustly and against the owner’s will…when he has every reason and right to be unwilling to be deprived of them, is stealing (Catechism of Pius X). Such an injustice causes the owner to lose monies that are rightfully his. To take and use another’s property unjustly is contrary to the seventh commandment: You shall not steal (Ex. 20:15; Deut 5:19; Mt 19:18, CCC 2454).

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, “theft is committed in a number of ways. First, by taking stealthily: “If the Goodman of the house knew at what hour the thief would come.” (Matt. 24:43). This is an act wholly blameworthy because it is a form of treachery, “Confusion…is upon the thief.” Ecclus., v.17. Summa Theologica (II-II, Q. cxxii, Art. 6)

The fact that the amusement park owners didn’t block access to the path doesn’t give anyone license to enter without paying. There is no excuse for such behavior. “For the proverb is well known: Those who are not thieves are made so by opportunity. Such persons are to be disabused of their wicked idea by reminding them that it is our duty to resist every evil propensity. If we yield instant obedience to every inordinate impulse, what measure, what limits will there be to crime and disorder? Such an excuse, therefore, is of the lowest character, or rather is an avowal of a complete want of restraint and justice” (Catechism of Trent).

No one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man (Catechism 1860). And, those who excuse their thefts “are to be admonished that God will accept no excuse for sin; and that their excuses, far from extenuating, serve only greatly to aggravate their guilt” (Catechism of Trent).

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