An Anglican vicar has provoked fury after advising less well off parishoners to steal from multiple retailers.

Father Tim Jones, vicar at the Church of St Lawrence in York, made the comments in his Sunday sermon. “My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift,” he reportedly said. “I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses but from large national businesses,” he added.

He said the advice did not break the Ten Commandments “because God’s love for the poor and despised outweighs the property rights of the rich.”

The British Retail Consortium reacted furiously to the vicar’s comments. “Shoplifting is wrong and it is not more or less wrong depending on who the victim is,” a spokesman said.