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Jack Kennedy wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have quite a tough question.

In the past I have broken copyright laws downloading items that didn't belong to me. I repented and later on found out I need to make restitution for the stolen goods. I asked a priest about this and he said I should just do an act of charity while another priest said you can't really make restitution for that. I personally don't know how much I owe for everything but am sure I can't pay everything back, even though I've destroyed all the items I once kept.

It's confusing for me because I've heard in audio sermons that you need to pay back in full what you took.

  • Do I have to pay everything back in full, or
  • Should I just be obedient and do as the priest told me to do, (not paying everything back)?

I'm worried that I'm obliged to God to pay the full amount but don't entirely know how to make restitution for something I don't know the total cost of. One other question:

  • If I used programs that where pirated and (produced work with those programs), do I need to destroy the work I did to fulfill the justice of the law?

Again, I've heard you can't keep it in audio sermons but the priest who heard my Confession told me it's OK to keep the work provided I'm not making a profit.

Thank you,

Jack

  { Do I have to pay everything back in full or should I just be obedient to what the priest told me? }

Mike replied:

Hi Jack,

Thanks for the question.

I would echo what Mary Ann said in a similar question:

Your Confessor is the Judge; his decision is accepted by God.

You should follow the counsel of the first priest who heard your Confession. We always have to strive to make a firm purpose of amendment not to commit any sin again, but if one did commit the same sin again, one would follow the counsel of the Confessor that heard your second Confession, even if the counsel is different from what the first Confessor told you.

While not directly related to the questions you have asked, I thought you would be interested in similar web postings I found in our knowledge base:

You said:

  • If I used programs that where pirated and produced work with those programs, do I need to destroy the work I did to fulfill the justice of the law?

Not necessarily but you would have to make the appropriate restitution to the person or company who you pirated the work from.

Due to the nuances of each situation, it's best to bring any unique issue like this to Confession and let the priest decide.

I hope this helps,

Mike

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