Stealing not always a sin?
#1
In the book "The Dogma of Hell" in the "How to avoid Hell" section it says that in the case where a man has no income and has a family to support if he steals food from a shop because the owner wouldn't give him any food it wouldn't be a sin because the only other outcome would be the sickness and possible death of him and his family. However, he would be obliged to pay for the food he took if he was able at some later time.

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#2
I remember something similar being explained to me at catechism. The priest said that if a starving child stole food from a stall, it was not a sin because otherwise he would have died. I guess it would be better to ask for food (charity) but if you're refused and still take it anyway, does that make it a sin?
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#3
See the whole question on Theft and Robbery in the Summa Theologiae. Among other interesting things, rich men who store up superabundance are guilty of theft, and the unilateral appropriation of goods in cases of urgent need (including hunger) does not count as theft. All in all it's very fascinating reading.
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#4
Excuses for Stealing Refuted

As there are not wanting those who would even excuse their thefts, these 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.

-Roman Catechism
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#5
It's always a sin. The severity of the personal effect upon your spiritual state and your relationship with God (sin) may vary upon your intention or lack thereof, however the act is still 'hamartia'.
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#6
It's not a sin if it's not stealing.

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P8B.HTM
the Catechism of the Catholic Church Wrote:2408 The seventh commandment forbids theft, 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.

If you would have been given it if you asked (presuming that you would have asked if you could have asked), then it is not stealing.

Further, if the person with food denies you food because he is a jerk, then he has less right to that food than you (assuming you'd starve and die without it).

So stealing is a sin.  But not all that looks like stealing is actually stealing.
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#7
During the winter of 1946-47, one of the worst in Europe for decades, amid the devastation of the immediate aftermath of the 1939-45 war, His Eminence Josef, Cardinal Frings, Archbishop of Cologne, commented on this question:

Wikipedia Wrote:Cardinal Frings is eternalised in the Kölsch language with the word "fringsen" (verb, literally translates as "to Frings") which became synonymous for "stealing food" and other low-value consumables out of need. The expression dates back on his New year's Eve sermon which he held on December 31, 1946 in the St. Engelbert church in Cologne-Riehl, in which he referred to the looting of coal trains and the bad supply situation in the grim winter:

We live in times where the single individual, in his need, ought to be allowed to take what he needs to preserve his life and health, if he cannot obtain it through other means, work or bidding.
Accordingly the term "fringsen" refers to obtaining food and fuel for the winter among Cologne citizens. However, it is often overlooked that Cardinal Frings, in the very next sentence, also put the onus of returning the goods or repaying the original owner as soon as possible on whoever would appropriate consumables in this fashion:

But I think that in many cases, this was grossly overdone. And then there is only one way: Promptly return unlawful gains, or there will be no forgiveness with God.
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#8
(05-31-2011, 01:09 PM)UnamSanctam Wrote: Excuses for Stealing Refuted

As there are not wanting those who would even excuse their thefts, these 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.

-Roman Catechism

This refers to those who justify their sin.  But it does not address those who do not sin.  Taking what appears to be someone else's is not always stealing.  It is taking what is lawfully another's which constitutes stealing.

If I am starving (literally starving) and I ask a rich man for bread and he could give me some but doesn't, I don't steal by taking that bread to survive, for the rich man does not really lawfully own that bread.  He is the one stealing it, and I am using it appropriately.
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#9
(05-31-2011, 02:31 PM)newyorkcatholic Wrote:
(05-31-2011, 01:09 PM)UnamSanctam Wrote: Excuses for Stealing Refuted

As there are not wanting those who would even excuse their thefts, these 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.

-Roman Catechism

This refers to those who justify their sin.  But it does not address those who do not sin.  Taking what appears to be someone else's is not always stealing.  It is taking what is lawfully another's which constitutes stealing.

If I am starving (literally starving) and I ask a rich man for bread and he could give me some but doesn't, I don't steal by taking that bread to survive, for the rich man does not really lawfully own that bread.  He is the one stealing it, and I am using it appropriately.

No one lawfully owns anything.
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#10
(05-31-2011, 02:35 PM)UnamSanctam Wrote:
(05-31-2011, 02:31 PM)newyorkcatholic Wrote:
(05-31-2011, 01:09 PM)UnamSanctam Wrote: Excuses for Stealing Refuted

As there are not wanting those who would even excuse their thefts, these 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.

-Roman Catechism

This refers to those who justify their sin.  But it does not address those who do not sin.  Taking what appears to be someone else's is not always stealing.  It is taking what is lawfully another's which constitutes stealing.

If I am starving (literally starving) and I ask a rich man for bread and he could give me some but doesn't, I don't steal by taking that bread to survive, for the rich man does not really lawfully own that bread.  He is the one stealing it, and I am using it appropriately.

No one lawfully owns anything.

Then why is there a commandment against stealing?  You don't believe in private property?

Of course everything is God's, but that doesn't mean there is no lawful ownership under God.
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