A Gesture of Overcoming

Dear Sir: We are returning to you a check for $3,579.39 which represents interest on the $68,700 which we were awarded by the city as a payment for the property at 223 Chrystie Street which we owned and lived [in] for almost 10 years, and used as a community for the poor. We did not voluntarily give up the property—it was taken from us by the right of eminent domain for the extension of the subway which the city deemed necessary. ... Property owning having been made impossible for us by city regulations, we are now renting and continuing our work.

We are returning the interest on the money we have recently received because we do not believe in “money lending” at interest. As Catholics we are acquainted with the early teaching of the Church. All the early councils forbade it, declaring it reprehensible to make money by lending it out at interest. Canon law of the Middle Ages forbade it and in various decrees ordered that profit so obtained was to be restored. In the Christian emphasis on the duty of charity, we are commanded to lend gratuitously, to give freely, even in the case of confiscation, as in our own case—not to resist but to accept cheerfully.

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Sojourners Magazine May 2008
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