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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 1. What is the tenth Commandment and what are the sins against it?

A. 1. The tenth Commandment is, “You shall not covet your neighbour's goods.”

What is forbidden by the Tenth Commandment? It is forbidden to envy the good fortune of another, and to desire seriously to have what belongs to another.

Envy is sadness at the sight of another's goods and the immoderate desire to have them for oneself. It is a capital sin. (C.C.C. # 2553)

The sensitive appetite leads us to desire pleasant things we do not have, e.g., the desire to eat when we are hungry or to warm ourselves when we are cold. These desires are good in themselves; but often they exceed the limits of reason and drive us to covet unjustly what is not ours and belongs to another or is owed to him. (C.C.C. # 2535)

The tenth commandment forbids greed and the desire to amass earthly goods without limit. It forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power. It also forbids the desire to commit injustice by harming our neighbor in his temporal goods. (C.C.C. # 2536)

Does the Tenth Commandment forbid other things? Yes.

- It forbids merchants from desiring a shortage of a certain supply so their selling price may rise.

- It forbids wishing that someone will become poor so that his belongings can be purchased at a very low price because of the poor person's need for money.

- It forbids doctors from wishing that disease will spread.

- It forbids lawyers who are eager for many important cases and trials. (C.C.C. # 2537)

While the Ninth and Tenth Commandments appear to repeat the Sixth and Seventh Commandments, they refer to thoughts rather than to one’s actions.

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