“Res clamat ad dominum.” This well known Latin maxim simply means that something cries, seeks or longs for its rightful owner. This ethical principle is squarely premised on the basic demand of restorative justice. In other words, as stealing is categorically frowned upon and wherefore forbidden not only by moral norm but also by civil law, anything stolen must be given back to its legitimate owner. In few words, all thieves are strictly bound to restitution.
The basic and elementary mandate of “You should not steal.” Has the necessary collateral imperative of “Give back what you stole.” The conclusions drawn from this composite normative provision founded on fundamental justice and a minimum requirement of societal peace, are rather relevant—particularly during these times in the country when graft and corruption have become shamefully endemic and practically incarnate in the psyche of the present government.
- It is definitely not enough for thieves to be sorry and feel contrite, to shed tears and promise not to indulge in thievery again.
- It is certainly neither enough for thieves to be accordingly accused, brought to trial and undergo imprisonment for stealing.
- It is most emphatically not enough for thieves in reality to be pronounced not guilty by law simply for lack of evidence of a likewise dishonest court.
What is emphatically demanded by truth and unequivocally required by justice is restitution whereby anything and everything stolen be given back to its owner according to both natural and positive laws. When something is stolen from the government such as pocketing of public funds—any and all these usurped goods must be given back wherefrom they are unjustly taken. Far be it for thieves to “donate” to the Church or to “give to the poor” what they stole—and thereafter probably feel even good and righteous about it. A thief is surely not at liberty to give what he or she stole to anybody else—except its rightful owner.
No thief is absolved from his or her thievery simply by going to confession and expressing sorry yet in fact keeping what is stolen. The truth is that no amount of silent and/or loud prayers, fervent devotions plus long processions under the auspices of any church or temple, religion or sect could condone thievery without restitution. No amount of tears and no kind of self-amendment could cleanse dirty money, could justify thievery.
Thieves specially those occupying powerful positions in the government as well as those in the private sector while exercising big influence over public agenda, better remember well the standing imperative of restitution. This has special significance for those who feel proud for being products of exclusive Catholic colleges. They must know better and are thus more accountable before God and His People.
10 October 2007