Catholics/Online piracy?


What are the church's thoughts on online piracy. ? Downloading software, ebooks, movies without paying for them?

Is it stealing ? Is it a mortal sin?

Whenever we take something we do not have a right to take without paying for the item that is stealing.  It does not matter if the object in question is a computer program, or a computer file.  

If you download software that you have no right to and you do not pay for it that would be stealing.

The best way, I think to tell if what you are doing is stealing is simply to look at the law.  Sometimes you can legally download programs for free, or software for free.  Sometimes you can view things on youtube for free.

I would suggest in this case if what you are downloading is illegal, you are stealing.  If what you are downloading is legal, you are not stealing.

I grant the law cannot tell us what is moral or immoral, but sometimes it can help.  In this case I think the law would help us distinguish between what is considered stealing and what is not.


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Father Dave Bechtel


I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.


I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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