QUESTION 62: OF RESTITUTION
We must now consider restitution, under which head there are eight
points of inquiry:
(1) of what is it an act?
(2) Whether it is always of necessity for salvation to restore what one
has taken away?
(3) Whether it is necessary to restore more than has been taken away?
(4) Whether it is necessary to restore what one has not taken away?
(5) Whether it is necessary to make restitution to the person from whom
something has been taken?
(6) Whether the person who has taken something away is bound to restore
(7) Whether any other person is bound to restitution?
(8) Whether one is bound to restore at once?
Article 1: Whether restitution is an act of commutative justice?
Objection 1: It would seem that restitution is not an act of commutative
justice. For justice regards the notion of what is due. Now one may
restore, even as one may give, that which is not due. Therefore
restitution is not the act of any part of justice.
Objection 2: Further, that which has passed away and is no more cannot be
restored. Now justice and injustice are about certain actions and
passions, which are unenduring and transitory. Therefore restitution
would not seem to be the act of a part of justice.
Objection 3: Further, restitution is repayment of something taken away. Now
something may be taken away from a man not only in commutation, but also
in distribution, as when, in distributing, one gives a man less than his
due. Therefore restitution is not more an act of commutative than of
On the contrary, Restitution is opposed to taking away. Now it is an act
of commutative injustice to take away what belongs to another. Therefore
to restore it is an act of that justice which directs commutations.
I answer that, To restore is seemingly the same as to reinstate a person
in the possession or dominion of his thing, so that in restitution we
consider the equality of justice attending the payment of one thing for
another, and this belongs to commutative justice. Hence restitution is an
act of commutative justice, occasioned by one person having what belongs
to another, either with his consent, for instance on loan or deposit, or
against his will, as in robbery or theft.
Reply to Objection 1: That which is not due to another is not his properly
speaking, although it may have been his at some time: wherefore it is a
mere gift rather than a restitution, when anyone renders to another what
is not due to him. It is however somewhat like a restitution, since the
thing itself is materially the same; yet it is not the same in respect of
the formal aspect of justice, which considers that thing as belonging to
this particular man: and so it is not restitution properly so called.
Reply to Objection 2: In so far as the word restitution denotes something done
over again, it implies identity of object. Hence it would seem originally
to have applied chiefly to external things, which can pass from one
person to another, since they remain the same both substantially and in
respect of the right of dominion. But, even as the term "commutation" has
passed from such like things to those actions and passions which confer
reverence or injury, harm or profit on another person, so too the term
"restitution" is applied, to things which though they be transitory in
reality, yet remain in their effect; whether this touch his body, as when
the body is hurt by being struck, or his reputation, as when a man
remains defamed or dishonored by injurious words.
Reply to Objection 3: Compensation is made by the distributor to the man to whom
less was given than his due, by comparison of thing with thing, when the
latter receives so much the more according as he received less than his
due: and consequently it pertains to commutative justice.
Article 2: Whether restitution of what has been taken away is necessary for salvation?
Objection 1: It would seem that it is not necessary to restore what has been
taken away. For that which is impossible is not necessary for salvation.
But sometimes it is impossible to restore what has been taken, as when a
man has taken limb or life. Therefore it does not seem necessary for
salvation to restore what one has taken from another.
Objection 2: Further, the commission of a sin is not necessary for salvation,
for then a man would be in a dilemma. But sometimes it is impossible,
without sin, to restore what has been taken, as when one has taken away
another's good name by telling the truth. Therefore it is not necessary
for salvation to restore what one has taken from another.
Objection 3: Further, what is done cannot be undone. Now sometimes a man loses
his personal honor by being unjustly insulted. Therefore that which has
been taken from him cannot be restored to him: so that it is not
necessary for salvation to restore what one has taken.
Objection 4: Further, to prevent a person from obtaining a good thing is
seemingly the same as to take it away from him, since "to lack little is
almost the same as to lack nothing at all," as the Philosopher says
(Phys. ii, 5). Now when anyone prevents a man from obtaining a benefice
or the like, seemingly he is not bound to restore the benefice, since
this would be sometimes impossible. Therefore it is not necessary for
salvation to restore what one has taken.
On the contrary, Augustine says (Ep. ad Maced. cxliii): "Unless a man
restore what he has purloined, his sin is not forgiven."
I answer that, Restitution as stated above (Article ) is an act of
commutative justice, and this demands a certain equality. Wherefore
restitution denotes the return of the thing unjustly taken; since it is
by giving it back that equality is reestablished. If, however, it be
taken away justly, there will be equality, and so there will be no need
for restitution, for justice consists in equality. Since therefore the
safeguarding of justice is necessary for salvation, it follows that it is
necessary for salvation to restore what has been taken unjustly.
Reply to Objection 1: When it is impossible to repay the equivalent, it suffices
to repay what one can, as in the case of honor due to God and our
parents, as the Philosopher states (Ethic. viii, 14). Wherefore when that
which has been taken cannot be restored in equivalent, compensation
should be made as far as possible: for instance if one man has deprived
another of a limb, he must make compensation either in money or in honor,
the condition of either party being duly considered according to the
judgment of a good man.
Reply to Objection 2: There are three ways in which one may take away another's
good name. First, by saying what is true, and this justly, as when a man
reveals another's sin, while observing the right order of so doing, and
then he is not bound to restitution. Secondly, by saying what is untrue
and unjustly, and then he is bound to restore that man's good name, by
confessing that he told an untruth. Thirdly, by saying what is true, but
unjustly, as when a man reveals another's sin contrarily to the right
order of so doing, and then he is bound to restore his good name as far
as he can, and yet without telling an untruth; for instance by saying
that he spoke ill, or that he defamed him unjustly; or if he be unable to
restore his good name, he must compensate him otherwise, the same as in
other cases, as stated above (ad 1).
Reply to Objection 3: The action of the man who has defamed another cannot be
undone, but it is possible, by showing him deference, to undo its effect,
viz. the lowering of the other man's personal dignity in the opinion of
Reply to Objection 4: There are several ways of preventing a man from obtaining a
benefice. First, justly: for instance, if having in view the honor of God
or the good of the Church, one procures its being conferred on a more
worthy subject, and then there is no obligation whatever to make
restitution or compensation. Secondly, unjustly, if the intention is to
injure the person whom one hinders, through hatred, revenge or the like.
In this case, if before the benefice has been definitely assigned to
anyone, one prevents its being conferred on a worthy subject by
counseling that it be not conferred on him, one is bound to make some
compensation, after taking account of the circumstances of persons and
things according to the judgment of a prudent person: but one is not
bound in equivalent, because that man had not obtained the benefice and
might have been prevented in many ways from obtaining it. If, on the
other hand, the benefice had already been assigned to a certain person,
and someone, for some undue cause procures its revocation, it is the same
as though he had deprived a man of what he already possessed, and
consequently he would be bound to compensation in equivalent, in
proportion, however, to his means.
Article 3: Whether it suffices to restore the exact amount taken?
Objection 1: It would seem that it is not sufficient to restore the exact
amount taken. For it is written (Ex. 22:1): "If a man shall steal an ox
or a sheep and kill or sell it, he shall restore five oxen for one ox,
and four sheep for one sheep." Now everyone is bound to keep the
commandments of the Divine law. Therefore a thief is bound to restore
four- or fivefold.
Objection 2: Further, "What things soever were written, were written for our
learning" (Rm. 15:4). Now Zachaeus said (Lk. 19:8) to our Lord: "If I
have wronged any man of any thing, I restore him fourfold." Therefore a
man is bound to restore several times over the amount he has taken
Objection 3: Further, no one can be unjustly deprived of what he is not bound
to give. Now a judge justly deprives a thief of more than the amount of
his theft, under the head of damages. Therefore a man is bound to pay it,
and consequently it is not sufficient to restore the exact amount.
On the contrary, Restitution re-establishes equality where an unjust
taking has caused inequality. Now equality is restored by repaying the
exact amount taken. Therefore there is no obligation to restore more than
the exact amount taken.
I answer that, When a man takes another's thing unjustly, two things
must be considered. One is the inequality on the part of the thing, which
inequality is sometimes void of injustice, as is the case in loans. The
other is the sin of injustice, which is consistent with equality on the
part of the thing, as when a person intends to use violence but fails.
As regards the first, the remedy is applied by making restitution, since
thereby equality is re-established; and for this it is enough that a man
restore just so much as he has belonging to another. But as regards the
sin, the remedy is applied by punishment, the infliction of which belongs
to the judge: and so, until a man is condemned by the judge, he is not
bound to restore more than he took, but when once he is condemned, he is
bound to pay the penalty.
Hence it is clear how to answer the First Objection: because this law
fixes the punishment to be inflicted by the judge. Nor is this
commandment to be kept now, because since the coming of Christ no man is
bound to keep the judicial precepts, as stated above (FS, Question , Article ).
Nevertheless the same might be determined by human law, and then the same
answer would apply.
Reply to Objection 2: Zachaeus said this being willing to do more than he was
bound to do; hence he had said already: "Behold . . . the half of my
goods I give to the poor."
Reply to Objection 3: By condemning the man justly, the judge can exact more by
way of damages; and yet this was not due before the sentence.
Article 4: Whether a man is bound to restore what he has not taken?
Objection 1: It would seem that a man is bound to restore what he has not
taken. For he that has inflicted a loss on a man is bound to remove that
loss. Now it happens sometimes that the loss sustained is greater than
the thing taken: for instance, if you dig up a man's seeds, you inflict
on the sower a loss equal to the coming harvest, and thus you would seem
to be bound to make restitution accordingly. Therefore a man is bound to
restore what he has not taken.
Objection 2: Further, he who retains his creditor's money beyond the stated
time, would seem to occasion his loss of all his possible profits from
that money, and yet he does not really take them. Therefore it seems that
a man is bound to restore what he did not take.
Objection 3: Further, human justice is derived from Divine justice. Now a man
is bound to restore to God more than he has received from Him, according
to Mt. 25:26, "Thou knewest that I reap where I sow not, and gather where
I have not strewed." Therefore it is just that one should restore to a
man also, something that one has not taken.
On the contrary, Restitution belongs to justice, because it
re-establishes equality. But if one were to restore what one did not
take, there would not be equality. Therefore it is not just to make such
I answer that, Whoever brings a loss upon another person, seemingly,
takes from him the amount of the loss, since, according to the
Philosopher (Ethic. v, 4) loss is so called from a man having "less"*
than his due. [*The derivation is more apparent in English than in Latin,
where 'damnum' stands for 'loss,' and 'minus' for 'less.' Aristotle
merely says that to have more than your own is called 'gain,' and to
have less than you started with is called 'loss.'] Therefore a man is
bound to make restitution according to the loss he has brought upon
Now a man suffers a loss in two ways. First, by being deprived of what
he actually has; and a loss of this kind is always to be made good by
repayment in equivalent: for instance if a man damnifies another by
destroying his house he is bound to pay him the value of the house.
Secondly, a man may damnify another by preventing him from obtaining what
he was on the way to obtain. A loss of this kind need not be made good in
equivalent; because to have a thing virtually is less than to have it
actually, and to be on the way to obtain a thing is to have it merely
virtually or potentially, and so were he to be indemnified by receiving
the thing actually, he would be paid, not the exact value taken from him,
but more, and this is not necessary for salvation, as stated above.
However he is bound to make some compensation, according to the condition
of persons and things.
From this we see how to answer the First and Second Objections: because
the sower of the seed in the field, has the harvest, not actually but
only virtually. In like manner he that has money has the profit not yet
actually but only virtually: and both may be hindered in many ways.
Reply to Objection 3: God requires nothing from us but what He Himself has sown
in us. Hence this saying is to be understood as expressing either the
shameful thought of the lazy servant, who deemed that he had received
nothing from the other, or the fact that God expects from us the fruit of
His gifts, which fruit is from Him and from us, although the gifts
themselves are from God without us.
Article 5: Whether restitution must always be made to the person from whom a thing has been taken?
Objection 1: It would seem that restitution need not always be made to the
person from whom a thing has been taken. For it is not lawful to injure
anyone. Now it would sometimes be injurious to the man himself, or to
others, were one to restore to him what has been taken from him; if, for
instance, one were to return a madman his sword. Therefore restitution
need not always be made to the person from whom a thing has been taken.
Objection 2: Further, if a man has given a thing unlawfully, he does not
deserve to recover it. Now sometimes a man gives unlawfully that which
another accepts unlawfully, as in the case of the giver and receiver who
are guilty of simony. Therefore it is not always necessary to make
restitution to the person from whom one has taken something.
Objection 3: Further, no man is bound to do what is impossible. Now it is
sometimes impossible to make restitution to the person from whom a thing
has been taken, either because he is dead, or because he is too far
away, or because he is unknown to us. Therefore restitution need not
always be made to the person from whom a thing has been taken.
Objection 4: Further, we owe more compensation to one from whom we have
received a greater favor. Now we have received greater favors from others
(our parents for instance) than from a lender or depositor. Therefore
sometimes we ought to succor some other person rather than make
restitution to one from whom we have taken something.
Objection 5: Further, it is useless to restore a thing which reverts to the
restorer by being restored. Now if a prelate has unjustly taken something
from the Church and makes restitution to the Church, it reverts into his
hands, since he is the guardian of the Church's property. Therefore he
ought not to restore to the Church from whom he has taken: and so
restitution should not always be made to the person from whom something
has been taken away
On the contrary, It is written (Rm. 13:7): "Render . . . to all men
their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom."
I answer that, Restitution re-establishes the equality of commutative
justice, which equality consists in the equalizing of thing to thing, as
stated above (Article ; Question , Article ). Now this equalizing of things is
impossible, unless he that has less than his due receive what is lacking
to him: and for this to be done, restitution must be made to the person
from whom a thing has been taken.
Reply to Objection 1: When the thing to be restored appears to be grievously
injurious to the person to whom it is to be restored, or to some other,
it should not be restored to him there and then, because restitution is
directed to the good of the person to whom it is made, since all
possessions come under the head of the useful. Yet he who retains
another's property must not appropriate it, but must either reserve it,
that he may restore it at a fitting time, or hand it over to another to
keep it more securely.
Reply to Objection 2: A person may give a thing unlawfully in two ways. First
through the giving itself being illicit and against the law, as is the
case when a man gives a thing simoniacally. Such a man deserves to lose
what he gave, wherefore restitution should not be made to him: and, since
the receiver acted against the law in receiving, he must not retain the
price, but must use it for some pious object. Secondly a man gives
unlawfully, through giving for an unlawful purpose, albeit the giving
itself is not unlawful, as when a woman receives payment for fornication:
wherefore she may keep what she has received. If, however, she has
extorted overmuch by fraud or deceit, she would be bound to restitution.
Reply to Objection 3: If the person to whom restitution is due is unknown
altogether, restitution must be made as far as possible, for instance by
giving an alms for his spiritual welfare (whether he be dead or living):
but not without previously making a careful inquiry about his person. If
the person to whom restitution is due be dead, restitution should be made
to his heir, who is looked upon as one with him. If he be very far away,
what is due to him should be sent to him, especially if it be of great
value and can easily be sent: else it should be deposited in a safe place
to be kept for him, and the owner should be advised of the fact.
Reply to Objection 4: A man is bound, out of his own property, to succor his
parents, or those from whom he has received greater benefits; but he
ought not to compensate a benefactor out of what belongs to others; and
he would be doing this if he were to compensate one with what is due to
another. Exception must be made in cases of extreme need, for then he
could and should even take what belongs to another in order to succor a
Reply to Objection 5: There are three ways in which a prelate can rob the Church
of her property. First by laying hands on Church property which is
committed, not to him but to another; for instance, if a bishop
appropriates the property of the chapter. In such a case it is clear that
he is bound to restitution, by handing it over to those who are its
lawful owners. Secondly by transferring to another person (for instance a
relative or a friend) Church property committed to himself: in which case
he must make restitution to the Church, and have it under his own care,
so as to hand it over to his successor. Thirdly, a prelate may lay hands
on Church property, merely in intention, when, to wit, he begins to have
a mind to hold it as his own and not in the name of the Church: in which
case he must make restitution by renouncing his intention.
Article 6: Whether he that has taken a thing is always bound to restitution?
Objection 1: It would seem that he who has taken a thing is not always bound
to restore it. Restitution re-establishes the equality of justice, by
taking away from him that has more and giving to him that has less. Now
it happens sometimes that he who has taken that which belongs to another,
no longer has it, through its having passed into another's hands.
Therefore it should be restored, not by the person that took it, but by
the one that has it.
Objection 2: Further, no man is bound to reveal his own crime. But by making
restitution a man would sometimes reveal his crime, as in the case of
theft. Therefore he that has taken a thing is not always bound to
Objection 3: Further, the same thing should not be restored several times. Now
sometimes several persons take a thing at the same time, and one of them
restores it in its entirety. Therefore he that takes a thing is not
always bound to restitution.
On the contrary, He that has sinned is bound to satisfaction. Now
restitution belongs to satisfaction. Therefore he that has taken a thing
is bound to restore it.
I answer that, With regard to a man who has taken another's property,
two points must be considered: the thing taken, and the taking. By reason
of the thing taken, he is bound to restore it as long as he has it in his
possession, since the thing that he has in addition to what is his,
should be taken away from him, and given to him who lacks it according to
the form of commutative justice. On the other hand, the taking of the
thing that is another's property, may be threefold. For sometimes it is
injurious, i.e. against the will of the owner, as in theft and robbery:
in which case the thief is bound to restitution not only by reason of the
thing, but also by reason of the injurious action, even though the thing
is no longer in his possession. For just as a man who strikes another,
though he gain nothing thereby, is bound to compensate the injured
person, so too he that is guilty of theft or robbery, is bound to make
compensation for the loss incurred, although he be no better off; and in
addition he must be punished for the injustice committed. Secondly, a man
takes another's property for his own profit but without committing an
injury, i.e. with the consent of the owner, as in the case of a loan: and
then, the taker is bound to restitution, not only by reason of the thing,
but also by reason of the taking, even if he has lost the thing: for he
is bound to compensate the person who has done him a favor, and he would
not be doing so if the latter were to lose thereby. Thirdly, a man takes
another's property without injury to the latter or profit to himself, as
in the case of a deposit; wherefore he that takes a thing thus, incurs no
obligation on account of the taking, in fact by taking he grants a favor;
but he is bound to restitution on account of the thing taken.
Consequently if this thing be taken from him without any fault on his
part, he is not bound to restitution, although he would be, if he were to
lose the thing through a grievous fault on his part.
Reply to Objection 1: The chief end of restitution is, not that he who has more
than his due may cease to have it, but that he who has less than his due
may be compensated. Wherefore there is no place for restitution in those
things which one man may receive from another without loss to the latter,
as when a person takes a light from another's candle. Consequently
although he that has taken something from another, may have ceased to
have what he took, through having transferred it to another, yet since
that other is deprived of what is his, both are bound to restitution, he
that took the thing, on account of the injurious taking, and he that has
it, on account of the thing.
Reply to Objection 2: Although a man is not bound to reveal his crime to other
men, yet is he bound to reveal it to God in confession; and so he may
make restitution of another's property through the priest to whom he
Reply to Objection 3: Since restitution is chiefly directed to the compensation
for the loss incurred by the person from whom a thing has been taken
unjustly, it stands to reason that when he has received sufficient
compensation from one, the others are not bound to any further
restitution in his regard: rather ought they to refund the person who has
made restitution, who, nevertheless, may excuse them from so doing.
Article 7: Whether restitution is binding on those who have not taken?
Objection 1: It would seem that restitution is not binding on those who have
not taken. For restitution is a punishment of the taker. Now none should
be punished except the one who sinned. Therefore none are bound to
restitution save the one who has taken.
Objection 2: Further, justice does not bind one to increase another's
property. Now if restitution were binding not only on the man who takes a
thing but also on all those who cooperate with him in any way whatever,
the person from whom the thing was taken would be the gainer, both
because he would receive restitution many times over, and because
sometimes a person cooperates towards a thing being taken away from
someone, without its being taken away in effect. Therefore the others are
not bound to restitution.
Objection 3: Further, no man is bound to expose himself to danger, in order to
safeguard another's property. Now sometimes a man would expose himself to
the danger of death, were he to betray a thief, or withstand him.
Therefore one is not bound to restitution, through not betraying or
withstanding a thief.
On the contrary, It is written (Rm. 1:32): "They who do such things are
worthy of death, and not only they that do them, but also they that
consent to them that do them." Therefore in like manner they that consent
are bound to restitution.
I answer that, As stated above (Article ), a person is bound to restitution
not only on account of someone else's property which he has taken, but
also on account of the injurious taking. Hence whoever is cause of an
unjust taking is bound to restitution. This happens in two ways, directly
and indirectly. Directly, when a man induces another to take, and this in
three ways. First, on the part of the taking, by moving a man to take,
either by express command, counsel, or consent, or by praising a man for
his courage in thieving. Secondly, on the part of the taker, by giving
him shelter or any other kind of assistance. Thirdly, on the part of the
thing taken, by taking part in the theft or robbery, as a fellow
evil-doer. Indirectly, when a man does not prevent another from
evil-doing (provided he be able and bound to prevent him), either by
omitting the command or counsel which would hinder him from thieving or
robbing, or by omitting to do what would have hindered him, or by
sheltering him after the deed. All these are expressed as follows:
"By command, by counsel, by consent, by flattery, by receiving, by
participation, by silence, by not preventing, by not denouncing."
It must be observed, however, that in five of these cases the cooperator
is always bound to restitution. First, in the case of command: because he
that commands is the chief mover, wherefore he is bound to restitution
principally. Secondly, in the case of consent; namely of one without
whose consent the robbery cannot take place. Thirdly, in the case of
receiving; when, to wit, a man is a receiver of thieves, and gives them
assistance. Fourthly, in the case of participation; when a man takes part
in the theft and in the booty. Fifthly, he who does not prevent the
theft, whereas he is bound to do so; for instance, persons in authority
who are bound to safeguard justice on earth, are bound to restitution, if
by their neglect thieves prosper, because their salary is given to them
in payment of their preserving justice here below.
In the other cases mentioned above, a man is not always bound to
restitution: because counsel and flattery are not always the efficacious
cause of robbery. Hence the counsellor or flatterer is bound to
restitution, only when it may be judged with probability that the unjust
taking resulted from such causes.
Reply to Objection 1: Not only is he bound to restitution who commits the sin,
but also he who is in any way cause of the sin, whether by counselling,
or by commanding, or in any other way whatever.
Reply to Objection 2: He is bound chiefly to restitution, who is the principal in
the deed; first of all, the "commander"; secondly, the "executor," and in
due sequence, the others: yet so that, if one of them make restitution,
another is not bound to make restitution to the same person. Yet those
who are principals in the deed, and who took possession of the thing, are
bound to compensate those who have already made restitution. When a man
commands an unjust taking that does not follow, no restitution has to be
made, since its end is chiefly to restore the property of the person who
has been unjustly injured.
Reply to Objection 3: He that fails to denounce a thief or does not withstand or
reprehend him is not always bound to restitution, but only when he is
obliged, in virtue of his office, to do so: as in the case of earthly
princes who do not incur any great danger thereby; for they are invested
with public authority, in order that they may maintain justice.
Article 8: Whether a man is bound to immediate restitution, or may he put it off?
Objection 1: It would seem that a man is not bound to immediate restitution,
and can lawfully delay to restore. For affirmative precepts do not bind
for always. Now the necessity of making restitution is binding through an
affirmative precept. Therefore a man is not bound to immediate
Objection 2: Further, no man is bound to do what is impossible. But it is
sometimes impossible to make restitution at once. Therefore no man is
bound to immediate restitution.
Objection 3: Further, restitution is an act of virtue, viz. of justice. Now
time is one of the circumstances requisite for virtuous acts. Since then
the other circumstances are not determinate for acts of virtue, but are
determinable according to the dictate of prudence, it seems that neither
in restitution is there any fixed time, so that a man be bound to restore
On the contrary, All matters of restitution seem to come under one head.
Now a man who hires the services of a wage-earner, must not delay
compensation, as appears from Lev. 19:13, "The wages of him that hath
been hired by thee shall not abide with thee until the morning."
Therefore neither is it lawful, in other cases of restitution, to delay,
and restitution should be made at once.
I answer that, Even as it is a sin against justice to take another's
property, so also is it to withhold it, since, to withhold the property
of another against the owner's will, is to deprive him of the use of what
belongs to him, and to do him an injury. Now it is clear that it is wrong
to remain in sin even for a short time; and one is bound to renounce
one's sin at once, according to Ecclus. 21:2, "Flee from sin as from the
face of a serpent." Consequently one is bound to immediate restitution,
if possible, or to ask for a respite from the person who is empowered to
grant the use of the thing.
Reply to Objection 1: Although the precept about the making of restitution is
affirmative in form, it implies a negative precept forbidding us to
withhold another's property.
Reply to Objection 2: When one is unable to restore at once, this very inability
excuses one from immediate restitution: even as a person is altogether
excused from making restitution if he is altogether unable to make it. He
is, however, bound either himself or through another to ask the person to
whom he owes compensation to grant him a remission or a respite.
Reply to Objection 3: Whenever the omission of a circumstance is contrary to
virtue that circumstance must be looked upon as determinate, and we are
bound to observe it: and since delay of restitution involves a sin of
unjust detention which is opposed to just detention, it stands to reason
that the time is determinate in the point of restitution being immediate.