Private property has become an idol in the United States and other capitalist ambiences. Although it is good that each person has some property to be able to live with enough, private property is not an absolute right. This is clear from the writings of the early church fathers as well as from the encyclicals of recent popes, especially Pope John Paul II.
But the message is also found in the writings of mystics, like St. Teresa of Avila, Spanish nun and doctor of the church who died on October 15, 1582. Instrumental in reforming the Carmelites, she was an insightful spiritual writer. In her Conceptions of the Love of God, II, 8, she wrote:
“Some people have all they need and a good sum of money shut up in their safe as well. Because they avoid serious sins, they think they have done their duty, They enjoy their riches and give an occasional alms, yet never consider that their property is not their own, but that God has entrusted it to them to share with the poor. . . . We have no concern with this except to ask God to enlighten such people. . . and to thank him for making us poor, which we should hold as a special favor on his part.”