9:30am Monday 21st December 2009
By Gavin Aitchison
WORSHIPPERS at one York church got a shock when their parish priest used the last Sunday before Christmas to advocate shoplifting.
Father Tim Jones, parish priest of St Lawrence and St Hilda, broke off from the traditional Nativity story yesterday, and said stealing from large national chains was sometimes the best option many vulnerable people had.
He told the congregation: “My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift. I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither.
“I would ask that they do not steal from small, family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices. I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need.”
He said he offered the advice “with a heavy heart”, and wished society would recognise that bureaucratic ineptitude and systemic delay had created an “invitation and incentive to crime for people struggling to cope”.
Father Jones said society had failed many needy people, and said it was far better that they shoplift than turn to more degrading or violent options such as prostitution, mugging or burglary. He cited an example of an ex-prisoner who had received less than £100, including a crisis loan, in the six weeks since his release.
He said his advice did not contradict the Bible’s eighth commandment, not to steal, saying God’s love for the poor and despised outweighed the property rights of the rich.
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Full transcript of the sermon linked at the source