London, December 22 (ANI): A vicar has created controversy by encouraging the poor to steal.
Father Tim Jones insisted in his Christmas sermon at St Lawrence Church, York, that the only way the destitute can survive at present time was by shoplifting.
"God's love for the poor and despised outweighs the property rights of the rich," the Sun quoted him as saying.
He added: "My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift. I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither.
"I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses but from large, national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices.
"I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need.
"I offer the advice with a heavy heart and wish society would recognise that bureaucratic ineptitude and systematic delay has created an invitation and incentive to crime for people struggling to cope."
Jones asserted that his advice was not against Bible.
He said: "My advice does not contradict the Bible's eighth commandment (Thou Shalt Not Steal) because God's love for the poor and despised outweighs the property rights of the rich."
Meanwhile, shop owners have been baffled by the religious head's comments.
Stephen Alambritis, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "We are appalled by the remarks from Father Jones. It is outrageous."
However, the Archdeacon of York, the Venerable Richard Seed, clarified: "The Church of England does not advise anyone to break the law in any way.
"Father Jones is raising important issues about the difficulties people face when benefits are not forthcoming, but shoplifting is not the way to overcome these difficulties."
Also, a spokesman for North Yorks Police said: "Shoplifting is a criminal offence and to justify this course of action under any circumstances is highly irresponsible." (ANI)