“Ask a Priest: Is It OK to Sue Over Financial Losses?”

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Q: Is it ever “right,” appropriate in the eyes of our faith and Church, to file a lawsuit against an individual, business or company for financial losses for the purpose of recovering part of the investment loss? -L.G.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: In principle it is morally OK to try to be prudent with resources, especially if you are responsible for financially supporting a family or you have others (such as employees) under your care.

There are various factors to take into account regarding lawsuits. Although something might be legal, it might be good to ask what the law of Christian charity would demand. “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you,” Jesus said (Matthew 7:12). Put yourself in the shoes of the one you are thinking about suing, and ask how you would like to be treated.

Another factor to consider is the risk that you voluntarily took on when you made your investment. If you knew that the risk was high, then you could ask yourself whether you showed prudence and responsibility in the first place.

Even if the target of the lawsuit has deep pockets, it might be good to consider your own motives. Is it to win justifiable compensation? Or is it feeding an unhealthy desire for money?

These are questions only you can answer. It might be good to take all this to prayer and see where the Holy Spirit is leading you. It might be good, too, to read up on Church social doctrine, such as the kind reflected in Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate. I hope this helps.

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