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Sherry Ann wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • If a person owed a lot in restitution for stolen things and had to make restitution little by little, would it be OK to spent some money on unnecessary things while still paying all the restitution that was owed?
  • Would this be a mortal sin since, instead of making restitution with the money, they spent it on unnecessary things?
  • Should we make total restitution for what we owed and avoid all unnecessary spending or can we still go to the movies, etc.

Sherry Ann

  { Can one make restitution bit by bit for stolen things or should they make full restitution? }

Mike replied:

Dear Sherry Ann,

Thanks for the question.

The answer will vary from situation to situation and there are probably nuances in your situation that you want to share with a local priest. His opinion would be the best opinion.

Generally, one should make full restitution as soon as one can, otherwise there may be no true repentance present and there can be a great temptation to delay full restitution. Any agreement to make partial restitution assumes the offended party agrees to this.

As to the matter of mortal sin, a mortal sin requires:
  1. that it is a grave matter
  2. done with full consent of the will, and
  3. with full knowledge.

I hope this helps,


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