Whenever I come upon a headline on an online news source, particularly when the story deals with a priest, Bishop or religious, I take the headline with a grain of salt.
Too many times I'll see a story about, say Pope Benedict, do a bit of research on the story and find that both the headline and the story are exactly the opposite of what the Pope actually said or did.
So, when I came across the news report about the English vicar giving the OK to shoplifting [Priest advises congregation to shoplift. - It's OK to shoplift.] I knew I'd need to go further into the story.
I tracked down the complete transcript of the priest sermon from this past Sunday.[Transcript.]
It doesn't look good for the Vicar.
"Let my words not be misrepresented as a simplistic call for people to shoplift. The observation that shoplifting is the best option that some people are left with is a grim indictment of who we are. Rather, this is a call for our society no longer to treat its most vulnerable people with indifference and contempt. When people are released from prison, or find themselves suddenly without work or family support, then to leave them for weeks and weeks with inadequate or clumsy social support is monumental, catastrophic folly. We create a situation which leaves some people little option but crime."
He advises, however, that one shoplifts from "from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices" and not small Mom & Pop businesses.
The police in York have taken a dim view, naturally, of the vicar's sermon.
According to one source,
" A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said: ' First and foremost, shoplifting is a criminal offence and to justify this course of action under any circumstances is highly irresponsible.Turning or returning to crime will only make matters worse, that is a guarantee.' ”
I agree that "social support" for the unfortunate can often be "inadequate" or "clumsy" but, I can't see how spending Christmas in jail can help matters.